“Family.” That’s something I have heard my whole life.
“Family is everything.”
“Family will be there no matter what.”
“Friends will come and go, but your family will always be there.”
“You can always rely on family to come thru.”
The list can go on and on.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding – Have you seen it? Well if you haven’t, watch it. That is my family except not Greek but Italian. Secrets don’t just stay in your immediate family they move to your aunt, great aunt, grandma, second cousin, you get the point. For example, me and my younger sister (The Baby) had a fight a couple weeks back. The next day I saw my aunt and I was talking to her about a situation close to the fight and guess who already knew that we had a fight?! My aunt who lived in New Jersey (FYI that’s not a state any of us live in). News travels fast in this family. Don’t think of telling my parents anything because ALL of the family will know (sorry mom and dad, it’s true.) So my sisters and I have come up with a pact (after 20 plus years of experience) to finally keep secrets from them, or I like to say- to withhold stuff from them.
Out of all my sisters I probably had the closest group of girlfriends growing up. And to be honest, I have been burned so many times that when college hit, I really followed the my parent's advice and was glued to my sisters. College was a big turning point for me…I found my husband, grew more independent, and had specific guideline for finding friends. The criteria was pretty basic, you had to love and be loyal to me and my sisters. That was it. I didn’t think it was too hard. But I and we had only one close friend in college…Courtney. Writing this makes me warm inside because she was the absolute perfect friend for me and my sisters. We wanted another sister and she was willing to deal with all of us, so all in all, she was adopted into the family not only by my sisters but by my parents, aunt, grandma, etc. See, “Famalia!”
But… College killed my social skills.
I’m the middle; therefore, I had my sisters there no matter what year I was in at college. “Finding my tribe” wasn’t a thing for me. When I was home from college during breaks, most people were doing girl’s trips, being in weddings, and throwing surprise parties for their friends. Not me. Weekends included family and doing any girlie stuff with my sisters. Hello, “Built in best friends” as my parents would say. To me that was great, comfortable, and easy.
But when my husband moved us to Orlando, I didn’t have any family when I was in a jam. No family to celebrate holidays or birthdays. No family when I didn’t get any sleep from the baby. No family to go do girlie things with (only boys in my family). No family anywhere.
I thought I could do it alone.
I always kept my distance when it came to friends. I don’t really let them into my heart or even into my schedule. (Yes, I’m a scheduler!) I like not being tied down to anything because to me, it’s hard going to social events when you just don’t want to. I was never very good at saying “No” because I never had to since everything was a family event.
Six months after moving to Orlando, I was crying literal tears because of how much I hated being there. I didn’t know where anything was. The baby kept me home most of the day with naps, and I couldn’t remember the last time I had a one on one conversation with an adult (besides yelling at my husband).
I found this verse in my devotions one day, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Like I think I felt the brick hit me! “…For better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.”
And I decided to go. Go to every event I was invited to. Go to every mommy and me play date. Get season passes to local parks. I was going to embrace Orlando and the people in it!
It was hard for me, taking a less than one year old out to places I didn’t feel comfortable. It was hard to take my first-born child to play with other kids that I have no clue how their parents were. It was hard navigating my way around a big city and around tolls. It was hard opening my home up and having dinner parties with strangers.
But do you know what was the hardest for me?
Letting people into my life. I could go to everything and put a wall up with how deep of a relationship I was going to have with other women. But people are not naive, they can tell if I am not being real or keeping our relationship only on an acquaintance level. And to be honest, no one wants to continue to invite or even hang out with someone like that. The women I found wanted a community, and I needed that community more than anything at that time.
I needed help.
I needed help if my car broke. I needed help when I had questions about baby. I needed help when I was sick. I needed help with doctor appointments for me. I needed help navigating around Orlando. I needed help to steer through medical school. I needed help to keep my sanity.
And that’s what I did. It took close to a year to “Find my tribe,” and my life changed drastically. No longer was I crying, but I was going out to Disney for girl’s night. No longer was I trying to find something to do as a stay at home mom, but instead had a crazy schedule of things to do every week. No longer was I spending countless dollars on babysitters or tow trucks because I had a community of friend there to help.
I finally had my own community.
I am so grateful for the community that I had. They helped me in ways that my family could never have done for me then. And not only did they help me, but they knew my heart and haven’t crushed it yet. Who knew friends could do that? Only took me 20 something years to figure that out….all because my husband led us to Orlando.
Put yourself out there. Be real. Help others. Put down your pride and ask for help. And you will “Find your tribe.” We all need each other.
Now get out there,