She took her own life — a woman of high impact and tangible influence who worked hard and accomplished much and yet ended her own life. Isolation occurs in all kinds of places — with leaders, mothers, high performers, extroverts and introverts. When we find ourselves alone, we’ve landed in a dangerous spot. One of our absolute biggest needs is support.
My oldest son, a law student, is spending his summer on legal arguments that will assist an indigenous people group in returning to their homeland. My son sent this text immediately after landing halfway around the world to take on this assignment, “I feel so supported. Only the luckiest have a great family and get to help other people’s families.” He was clearly stating that when our need for support is met, we are freed up to support others — which is our destiny (it just looks different for each of us).
If you are one of the lucky ones, fully supported by your community, tribe, or family, get out there and find ways to fulfill your destiny. If you feel unsupported, your tribe, family, community exists. Not only do you need them but they need you. Keep searching for them.
The first step to finding your people is to show up as yourself. It seems so obvious but it’s much harder than we realize. Our desire to make good first impressions has us trying to act smarter, look more put together, and tell better jokes. When really, it’s our vulnerability, transparency, authenticity that will attract the people whom we enjoy and, conversely, enjoy us.
One of the practical and often uncomfortable steps to finding community is to keep showing up at the same places again and again. It takes time to be known and to know. I’ve been showing up in the same group of people every two weeks for almost a year. Last week someone introduced me as a character in a famous movie. (He’s green but definitely reflects my heart.) I immediately thought, “Ah, they DO know me!” Keep showing up.
A group of women in my world have coined the phrase “elephant friend.” When elephants give birth their fellow herd gathers around them protecting them from the dangers in the wild and celebrating by “trumpeting” when the baby drops. To us an elephant friend is someone who both protects and celebrates. To be that and to have that requires showing up consistently as completely yourself. All of us need elephant friends.
Connection takes courage. Isolation steals life.