On this week's Embracing Intensity Podcast, I talk about the Power of Community. I believe that growing up with supportive and accepting community is what gave me the foundation of support I needed to find or build my own community wherever I go.
Unfortunately, a lot of intense, gifted and creative people don't always have that foundation of people who "get" them, so it can be hard to even know where to begin the process of connecting with and/or creating community - at least community where you feel comfortable and at-ease.
I share a bit of my own journey and challenges making friends as an adult on the podcast, but I'd like to share here a few steps that I've found have consistently yielded bbetter connections for me.
Find an existing community. I assure you, there are people out there, the trick is figuring out where to find them. I talk a little bit about where I've found connection in the past in this post here, and since then I've also found networking groups for women to be an additional place to find connection since entrepreneurs tend to attract an intense crowd. I also frequently refer to this post from Paula Prober on where to "find your pips."
Invite people to connect 1:1. If you really want to connect, you can't just stop at attending events, you have to reach out beyond the event. Believe me, I know this can feel like asking someone out on a date, but once you break that barrier, the connections you make can get much more deep and rich. Nowadays, social media can help - as you interact with them more online it can make reaching out in person more comfortable. In fact, I connected with an amazing family through Facebook based on a page like and a gut feeling and all three of them got along fabulously with all three of us (the trifecta of family friendships!). I never would have known though if I hadn't reached out and asked. Remember that if you are feeling a need for deeper connections, there are people out there who are feeling that as well and are just as scared to reach out.
Don't take things personally. This is single handedly the most important part of making new connections without losing sanity. Not everyone is at the same place at the same time. Perhaps this person you feel you could deeply connect with has one too many things on their plate to add one more. Trust your gut in who to reach out to, but remember that if they say no, or don't have the time, it is not about you. I repeat this quote all of the time, but it especially rings true here - "You never know what someone else's motivation is, so you might as well assume the one that is best for you." (Paraphrased from The Charisma Myth) This pretty much sums up the way I try to live my life, and when I am successful I can truly see the power of assuming the best in others!
Manage your expectations. This goes back to seeing the best in others. As intense people, we hold ourselves to high expectations and can expect the same from others. This can be a recipe for dissapointment when no one person can meet our expectations. You may have different friends who meet different needs. One person can't always be everything to you, especially if you have complicated needs. Take time for gratitude and appreciate what the people in your life already have to offer. Express that gratitude often and your connection will grow.
Invite larger groups if you'd like. If you are an introvert and/or prefer only 1:1 interactions, this step might not be relevant. If you are like me, however, and thrive in a community that you had a hand in creating, this can go a long way. Once I had a couple of close friends in the area, I could start inviting people to events where I knew at least one other person would join. Having that solid foundation, I could reach out to more people and feel the sting less when they didn't respond. If they came on occasion, or continued to reply (even if they were too busy to join), I would keep inviting them. If they didn't respond at all, I would eventually stop reaching out. When I first started with my closest group of friends, I would send individual texts. Now that group is so tight-knit a group message usually will do, though there are those that I know prefer an individual reach-out.
On the note of creating community, I'm excited to announce that we are creating our first, hopefully annual, Embracing Intensity Unconference - a community of gifted women coming together to create their own educational learning experience in the PNW (near Portland Oregon). You can learn more and sign up on the event page here!