Thursday, December 4, 2008
Finding One’s Tribe
Due to the recent Thanksgiving dinners and the pending requisite holiday gatherings, I find myself thinking lately a lot about tribes. It seems to me that introverts are especially susceptible to needing to find their true tribe, and feeling like a square peg in a round hole when they haven’t.
Usually around the holidays, I am struck by how the family I grew up in is definitely not my tribe. As introverts—not to mention creative types—many of us were a puzzle to our parents, if not a downright thorn in their side. Where did they go wrong, they wondered? Why were we so quiet/shy/withdrawn? And how could we even begin to explain it to them?
So while we belonged to our family in a cursory way, it was easy to never really feel like we truly belonged or that they really understood us.
Consequently, one of my personal all time favorite fairy tales was that of the ugly duckling—the child who never fits in. I treasured it’s message: to hold on until others like myself showed up.
It is so important to find a tribe of like-minded people who don’t just tolerate us or are willing to put up with our introvert-ness, but who get it. Because the truth is, if viewed through an extroverted lens, we will always come up lacking. We are not extroverts. We are not even extrovert-lite. We will never get the same rush of well-filling energy from groups of people that they do. It is too easy then, to take a shaky step on over into feeling inferior, like something is wrong with us.
Which is why learning I was an introvert, an INFJ specifically, was such a boon to me. I was supposed to be that way. It was my official type, my psychological tribe, if you will. Granted, only 2% of people are INFJs, but that didn't matter; I would just have to work harder to find other, hidden tribe members.
Who knew they'd all be violet? :-]