Do you have all the support you need in each area of your life? If so, consider yourself lucky. Support from our family, friends, colleagues, spiritual advisors, and health and fitness teams helps us to be our best, to achieve our goals and to have satisfying relationships. If you have ever been supported in your goals, you know the difference it can make.
Sometimes, one of our support systems breaks down or is missing. Lack of support makes everything you do a little harder. For example, if you have ever had a boss who didn’t support you, you know how difficult it made your work life. Missing support in your fitness regime makes running or healthy eating tougher and you will be more likely to give up before reaching your goal.
We all need to find the people who can understand and support the different areas of our lives, our tribe. This has become clear to me as I have totally redesigned my life. In my past life, I was fortunate to have an amazing team of colleagues to share my professional world. When I quit my job and began life as a freelance writer, my professional support system vanished. It felt a little like floating, unanchored, in the water. I knew I needed to find new people who would understand my work and be part of a mutually supportive relationship.
In her book Live the Life You Love, Barbara Sher talks about the need for allies. Allies are people who believe in you and see the genius in you. Who wouldn’t want that? We often turn to our families as allies, but families aren’t always the best or only allies because they don’t always understand our inner selves. Other people often become allies, but in their absence, Sher suggests, that we can bridge the gap with imaginary allies.
Before you run away thinking that talking to imaginary people is crazy, consider this. What would you want allies to do for you? For me it is to encourage me, to lead by example and to understand and support my vision. I would like allies to inspire me and give me advice.
Imaginary allies can do that! Who are imaginary allies? Sher suggests choosing people from history, people from your childhood, book or fictional characters, and living or dead heroes from your adult years.
For example, one of my allies is Eleanor Roosevelt, my person from history. She was a great thinker, writer, and visionary. She defied social norms of the day to invent her own path and live life on her own terms. When I doubt myself, or think that I can’t do something, I think about what she accomplished. I read her writing and feel her passion. Her words, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” hang on the wall of my office.
I like to think of the fictional character of Anne Shirley from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables as an ally too. She is feisty and passionate and refuses to give up her dreams. I learned about kindred spirits from Anne. Your kindred spirits are not always the people you would expect, but people who somehow touch you deeply and understand your very soul. Your kindred spirits make you better.
The Celtic term Anam Cara has the same meaning, souls who connect and bond. Your Anam Cara understands you at your very core, helps you look at and understand the world differently, and empowers you to be your truest and best self. I have been fortunate to experience several kindred spirits in my life, and even though some of them are gone from my day to day world, thinking of them brings warmth, support and recommitment to my dreams.
I am slowly working on finding my new professional tribe. I found food bloggers to be a very friendly and accepting group, but quickly realized that I am not passionate about cooking and though we can certainly be friends, they are not my tribe. The crafty mom bloggers are young, bright and clever, but not my tribe either. I’ve had a lot of communication with Word Press and copywriter tech guys who were helpful in learning the technical parts of my business, but they are definitely not kindred spirits.
What I’ve learned as I move forward is that in order to find your tribe, you first need to understand who you really are. Though I am comfortable with my personal identity and my personal relationships, my understanding of who am I am as a writer is more tentative. Each time I write a blog or accept a writing job I am building an awareness of what kind of writing is right for me and who I am in this brave new world. Finding your tribe requires that you are open and vulnerable enough for people to know and understand you, and my writing does that.
I am confident that I’ve found where I belong. I know my people are out there somewhere, and I know that I will find them. When I do, I know that together we will accomplish bigger and more important things than we can do alone.
“When you get to know who you are, anything is possible.”