Menu

5 Ways to Find Your People (The Ones Who Really Get You)

Friends

“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Unknown

For probably over thirty years—since I was old enough to know I needed them—I’ve been looking for my people.

You know the ones—the people who get you, somehow; who are on the same wavelength. Some might even say the people who share the same brand of quirky, crazy, or oddness that you do. The ones who understand why you do what you do, or if they don’t understand, they either ask or they just accept, and either way is fine.

It’s not that there was anything wrong with my family or my school or the few friends I had, or my neighborhood—not at all. We all had our ups and downs, but we moved on and through it and had good times and bad. But I just felt a deep sense that the people around me were aliens. Or I was.

At one point during childhood I even made up a story in my head about how I had been placed with my family as an experiment to see how someone would grow up with people who barely even shared the same language. I’m sure a lot of kids had similar thoughts.

As I grew up, I continued feeling this odd sense of never being at home, safe, or comfortable.

Sure, I had friends and close family, and ended up successful in my career, but there was a kind of connection I was missing. Something where my particular gifts were treasured, and my particular sort of oddness was accepted and cherished; and where I felt safe enough to cherish and embrace the odd gifts of those around me.

I looked for safety and comfort in lots of ways: in relationships, in books, in short-lived hobbies, in TV, in long nature hikes, in workshops on “finding your purpose” or “finding the love of your life,” in meditation, in yoga, in spontaneous road trips. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those, but it was when I got out of my comfort zone that I finally found what I had been looking for.

It happened when I followed my heart into the places that interested me.

At first, I joined a group of people that I wanted very much to like me. I tried to be likeable, to support them and to do the work that was required to make our projects successful, to help out when I could, and I attended every party and event. But something wasn’t right.

Though we shared a lot of interests, I felt like they never truly accepted me for who I was. There was a sense that they wanted me there to work and to even admire them, but few people seemed to be curious about me or to allow me in to become closer to them when I tried to become friends.

There was an odd sense of people always keeping me at arms’ length. For several years, I decided that there was something wrong with me, which was why they didn’t seem to truly accept me.

But one day, after camping with this group and feeling, again, that sense of not-belonging, I decided that it was neither me nor them. We simply weren’t a good match.

I kept looking, following my heart into another group within the same larger community. This time, they seemed to genuinely accept me, to like me, to respond to me, to open up to me, and to both value me and appreciate that I valued them. And I did value them—I do. They’re a bunch of amazing creative, smart, motivated, fun, and genuine people. And it was like night and day.

It’s not that everything’s perfect and that there are no conflicts or awkwardness, that everyone always gets along or that there aren’t moments of ambivalence where dynamics seem to shift.

But the people I’ve found more recently, after allowing the ones that didn’t seem to click to move out of my life, seem like they’re going to stick around. And I feel like making the effort to make sure that my friendship and support will keep these people in my life for a long time.

Here are some steps to finding those people who will love, support, challenge, and accept you:

1. Do what you like to do.

It doesn’t matter if you do it for work or do it for play, but do what you like to do. Sports, hobbies, hiking alone, travel, reading, collecting cigars, whatever it is, do it. You don’t even have to be super passionate about it, but if you enjoy it, do it.

For years I thought nothing was worth doing if I wasn’t Passionate-with-a-capital-P about it. But just enjoyment is enough. And spend the amount of time doing that thing that feel right to you.

2. Learn how to talk to strangers.

Every stranger is a potential friend, as they say. I’ve always been really shy, but when I focused on doing the things I enjoy, I started to get less shy, at least about those things.

It’s okay if you’re shy or feel like nobody understands you; just practice when you can. Learn that sometimes people don’t respond, and that’s okay. And sometimes you say something weird, and that’s okay. It really is.

3. Find other people who do what you like to do.

These days, with online social media and the Internet, you can pretty much find people who like to do anything you like to do. From knitting hats for cats to collecting particular kinds of rock, from listening to any kind of music to reading the collected works of obscure Romanian poets. If you like it, someone else likes it, I can almost guarantee it.

Find them, and introduce yourself. There is no rule that says “your people” have to live in the same town as you.

4. Participate, even if It’s scary.

Just because some people like what you like doesn’t mean they’re “your people.” You may have to keep exploring your interests for awhile, and keep exploring groups who share those interests. But when you find people who seem like they can handle you, step in and help out.

If it’s a group that meets in real life, volunteer your home for a meeting or offer to help out at an event; if it’s one person, invite him or her out to partake in the interest you share. You may feel awkward, but that’s okay. Awkward just means you’re stretching yourself.

5. Be honest and present.

Once you’ve met people that you feel you want to connect to, practice being brave enough to be open about that with them.

One of the first groups I thought were “my people” actually kind of intimidated me, and I never got up the nerve to be honest with people in the group about that. I ended up finding a related group that didn’t intimidate me as much, but I still wonder, if I had been willing to share my vulnerability with that earlier group, if I could have been able to connect with them more deeply.

Take up space with the people you think might be “your” people. Practice being open, saying what you feel, and being present with them. See how they react. The ones who stay with you in those moments of vulnerability, not judging you or criticizing you, are truly your people.

Photo by Vinoth Chandar

About Melissa Kirk

Melissa Kirk is an editor, writer, and blogger living in the SF bay area and attempting to go with the flow and roll with the punches as much as possible. She writes for Psychology Today and also has a personal blog.

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
  • Rochelle Spencer

    I love this post!

  • Talya Price

    I love this post too. Thank you. 🙂

  • Lisettica

    Wow I thought I was the only one still looking for ” my people” at the age of 41 and I really thought I was the one with the issues. Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • K K

    Comforting. Nice to know that SOMEONE gets it!
    I have been searching for “my tribe” my whole life. I have narrowed the issue to the fact that others who might get me (and I might get them) are also not comfortable seeking one another publicly.

  • Issy

    Wow I am not alone afterall…

  • Totally appropriate for me right now! Thank you.

  • This resonates on so many levels. Especially when you said that “your people” don’t have to be living near you. I met my best friend online (remember Xanga.com? Before blogging was a thing even!) and we have been through thick and thin for the past 10 years. Although we did live near one another for a good amount of time, we know how to keep the bond going no matter where we live, because that’s how we started! Also, I completely agree about doing your thing and the right people will come to you. In fact, my Monthly Mantra for April was “stop giving a shit about what other people may consider weird” (I wrote about it here – http://www.soultiply.com/april-2014-monthly-mantra/) You better bet MY PEOPLE understood me and were there for me no matter what! The others that judged – well, they were not my people! Thanks for such a lovely post! xo
    Best,
    Brittany Ritcher
    http://www.Soultiply.com

  • A Honest post! I love it:) I was looking for exactly this.

  • Aurea

    Thank you. This has been on my mind for quite some time. I recently developed hobbies that I like that none of my friends are interested in. I’ve been longing to meet people like me. Again, thank you for the advice!

  • Abi

    Love this article! I feel the same. I studied aboard for a while and felt so at home amongst the people I met, they accepted me, even when they didn’t understand they just accepted me and that was an amazing feeling, I really miss it

  • Noctu Sova

    As a young child I imagined I was an alien disguised as a human but I couldn’t turn back or go home.
    I still have similar feelings but realized I have been pushing people who want to talk to me away, ignoring them as I walk too fast or daydream.

    I’m improving now. But I have to go easy still or I get drained and beat myself up for still not having anyone close.

  • peb

    wait so was it the 2nd group who worked out? the ones who appreciated you? it seems like it, but then you wrote that is was like “night and day”

  • Octarin

    Absolutely me. Thanks for the advice cause I’m still looking here. I feel more connected to a few individual people I know who live far away from me than the vast majority of the people around me. What you said feeling like an alien? Yeah, hello from another alien. I’ve just about given up by now, given up trying, making any sort of effort, big or small. Thanks for that, thanks for somehow letting me know I don’t need a shrink cause of this. <3

  • I think one point that you touched and that’s really important is that after you leave college you really need to make an effort and be active, not passive, to get new friends, even if they’re “your people”. Call people out for drinks, to other events that might be outside your common interests, and yeah, be present. Even your people might not necessarily know you want to be their friend unless you make an effort.

  • JustMe

    Thanks for this. Came just at the right time when I was once again feeling so wrong for being different.

  • allison

    I really appreciate this post, I have felt this way alot in my life, and I feel like I’m just starting to understand finding my true group of friends. I have friends all over the world and they are truly my family. If I ever start to feel awkward about sharing something with them I immediately say it’s OK, these folks love you just the way you are. They know me well enough to understand how I love. As cliché as it may be, being yourself is all that’s needed. The people who love you, accept you for you, are the ones that will be there in the long run. This came at the right time for me. Thank You!!=)

  • SavvySenior

    I’ve felt lately like I was going through a transition from numerous friends to hardly anyone around, but with the feeling I’m moving into a new place where I will again connect with those who are like-minded. This article is timely and supporting what I am already feeling internally.

  • Christine

    33 and still haven’t found my people yet. I will keep trying. Thank you.

  • Amy222

    great article. I feel this way as well. I don’t like my family or current assortment of “friends”. I have tried to fit in with everyone at various times, but it is exhausting and I just end up feeling bad. They just move one…and it makes me feel even more that if its that easy to move on for them, then there was no real connection. I am also a super resource, so I have found that some like to “keep me around” because they know how helpful I am. I’m tired of being used. They don’t invite me to anything, or want to spend time with me unless I’m doing something for them.

  • Cynny

    Wow, reading this article makes me feel like I can release my truest self and will actually find someone who “gets” me. Too often I feel like I’m wearing a mask to blend in and the real me underneath is suffocating and dying.

  • Jr

    If your from Arizona close to or in phoenix…message me! We needa get together!

  • anon

    I’ve felt like this all my life. I always just assumed I would meet “my people” in the next place I went – next job, next location, whatever. I don’t really know what I mean by “my people” either – someone who I feel i could actually connect with, I guess. Someone like me.

    My revelation is a little different from yours. Because everyone is “obviously” already “too different” from me, I write them off immediately. I never try to make friends – why would I want to make friends with people who aren’t like me? The answer for me is to actually give people a chance.

  • barthalomew

    I try and be open to everyone and everything. i am just human though awkward… skeletons… regret.. not trying to sound mighty but to share .yaknow. i know when i get a bad feeling about who i am with or what they do or ultimately how im behaving and feeling,like most would generalize …if my judgement out weighs my acceptances its not positive and may bring me down and so there just not my people….i start with mutual respect. im always honest. AND SOMETIMES they just dont like me. because just as i make my judgement sometimes thats just how i am perceived,,some people wont like this comment,,but it makes me happier to try and discipline myself to go harder to not feed off it or each other.easier said. my people know what humans are and what its like to feel like an alien…sometimes you just do because among-st closer relations negativity forms. i like how this tied around. I try to be honest about my feelings have emotions put it out, im growing as i hope you are…takes so working on accepting judgement so you can express your own but hey ill love you for what i love and my kinda people love even when they cant we are raw, we love or we dont. honestys so imortaint to me idk,,
    im rollin nuts

  • Say

    You just said everything I had on my mind! It’s difficult not having found anyone who understands you

  • Ema

    I imagine i’m not alone in the room. or when i am with people i still imagine there is someone else. not like “i see imaginary people” just some presense around me to make me feel not alone. its not like people don’t wanna hang out with me. all sorts of people from middle school to college and work call me.. And they all lean on me and not on their family partners.. which is very wrong. But even when we make strong conections, after i while they seem like a mile away from me. They don’t get my thought process, my sense about the people and the world, and they are meaner then i think people should be. not mean to me, but to others, strangers, people they don’t conisder close friends.. they compare their lives to lives of others and are always measuring where are they on that scale and with that they deside how to act with someone. they are from my point 2 detached from anything that doesn’t serve them directly. and are always acting like selling themselves. (look at me i am smart look at me i have tits look at me i have a diploma look at me i know people) and these are adults. like 25 – 35 years old smart people. they just make me sad and more alone. i dunno. just cant find “my people”. no matter how we are old same sex people compete and different sex people sell.
    i got that it is part from a fact that i am older sister of 2 brothers that i protected my entire childhood, and kids on the streat bullied us a little, and i grow up with the boys – so i act a little bit like a boy and am very protective of other people, and society in our country is very patriarchy and competetive but that creates only superficial conflicts, after awhile they get used to me not functioning like a propper insecure girl, but still.. they wanna be my friend but i don’t think they get what a friend means. i see how they are in relationships and in my world that is not even a booty call. i get that i sound really judgy but the point is i am tired of keeping myself on minimum so i can feel once per year like someone got me. and when i let myself be me i just feel more alone and disconected. hope u can get what i am describing. i am sleepy and this is my second language and this sounds like a baby princess first world problems. fuck. i dunno.. just.. people make effort to hang out with me but they dont make effort to really connenct with anyone. they act like world and all in it is a gigant show that is just killing our time and boredrom, feeding and creating insecurities. like they are trying to connect a thingy to a thingy but things are still in wrappers. or they just compete all the time about everytihing with everyone in a very subtle way. even insecure people, who are delicate and have a lot in themselfs that shine, like all of us, when they get secure, they get competitive and mean like the rest.

  • Anon

    The problem here is that you assume that 1. Such people exist, and 2. That there are enough of them that you are likely to ever even encounter one. The best thing to do is to say: “If i find “my people” then great; if not, that’s fine.

  • Audrey Black

    Yep, lots of people have seen me as a means of entertainment and resourcefulness. I frequently used to hear from others that they love having me around (and when I probed enough it was for the previously mentioned reasons) but they never stopped to think if I loved being around them. And when I’d decline invitations, they’d pout, giving me their reasons for why I’m “wrong” and that I need to show up because they enjoy me.

    So then I thought to myself “nah, fuck off m8s” and went about my business. Lol.

  • Audrey Black

    Just because some people like what you like doesn’t mean they’re “your people.”

    This was key for me. I thought shared interests were the most important thing and wondered why people who liked some of the same things I did weren’t a match for me, until I realized it’s personal values and worldview that matter most. My journey continues.

    Really good post.

  • Audrey Black

    Bullshit. They definitely exist. The world is HUUUGGGGEEEE (and I mean in terms of people). Even geniuses, who are a tiny minority of the population and experience life tremendously different from the rest, manage to find people like themselves.

    It might be more difficult if you’re not the average person off the street, but you’re definitely not alone. Stop hiding. Live your life fully. Do what you like. A closed-off attitude will ensure your failure in finding people like you.