How to Find Your People
This summer, I volunteered for a youth group missions trip where I knew only one of 200+ students and was terrified to be around so many teenage strangers for a week. Turns out these kids weren't scary at all, but that's not the story.
A few hours into our drive home, I walked to the back of the giant bus to (ew) use the bathroom, and I overheard a voice say, "Well, Aragorn is way hotter." My fangirl antennae started beeping, and I immediately butted in on the conversation between these two girls I had never spoken to before. "Did I hear you say something about Aragorn?" Fast forward to an hour later and a mild leg cramp, I'm still squatting next to those girls talking about Middle Earth and Christian Bale and Breaking Bad. It was exhilarating. I'd found my people! Granted, we were minutes from home and these girls were about to leave for college, but who cares!
A month or so later, those same girls joined our family for dinner, and as we topped our chili with avocado and cheese, my five year-old randomly said, "Girls, just be yourself."
After we stopped crying with laughter because I'm sorry what?!, we talked about how he's right. That's the intellectual truth we know; just be yourself. But in reality, new places and new people can be horrifying as you figure out how much of yourself to actually share. Do I show all my crazy at once? What if no one likes me? These were real issues for these girls on the brink of living with strangers hundreds of miles from home, but I realized something about all of us.
We find our people by being the truest versions of who we are.
Our default around strangers is to blend in. Be normal and ordinary, and everyone will think only good things. Or think nothing at all.
But if we want to find our people, if we want to really be known, "normal and ordinary" won't work. If those girls hadn't been so passionately talking about Lord of the Rings and if I hadn't butted in like an idiot, we never would have met. That thought bums me out because, yes, they're 15 years younger than I am, but they're legit friends that I care about. They're my people, and I'm so glad I found them.
Be who you are. Have courage to say what you're interested in. Be brave enough to admit you don't know what someone else is talking about. Make your corny jokes knowing that not everyone will laugh. Chances are, there's someone who will, and they're looking for their people, too.
If you haven't really found your people yet, it might be because you're trying to be like everyone else. Try being yourself, and see what happens. The world needs you to be you. And your future friends need that, too.