Finding your tribe and learning to let go

Find your place. Seek your tribe.

Last week marks eleven months since I moved abroad. For some people, that’s bastante – quite a long time. For others, it’s nothing. In general, when people here ask me, “¿Cuánto tiempo tiene en Costa Rica?” (How long have you been in Costa Rica, or literally, how much time do you have here?) My response is usually, “Ah, sólo tengo 11 meses.” (I ONLY have 11 months, with stress on how little time it is.)

However you define 11 months, it has been long enough for me to encounter some very strong feelings of otherness.

I have a theory that, when a person decides to travel long-term, she does so because she is looking for her tribe. She is seeking other people who “speak her language.” She may not think of it this way or consciously seek this. But many times, a traveler will discover that the people who best “speak her language” don’t even speak the traveler’s native tongue. I have found this to be true for myself.

A friend shared with me this letter. It’s beautifully written, especially this part: “How do I find the right words to tell you, to confess that it has been easier to pour my heart out to new friends on the road than to you in the many years I’ve known you? There are no right words to tell you that although they’re all a thousand miles away, they know me better than you do.” It was written from a woman to her lover, but I feel like it could be written from me to many of the people in my “former life.”

Change and evolution gives you wings.

One of the most incredible friendships I have ever had was found here in Costa Rica. This person launched rapidly into my heart. I have never been able to talk to anyone, ever, as well as I have him. He speaks my language. He is part of my tribe.

This is no comment on the quality of the friendships I had before, or the amazing people I used to hang around. They’re still wonderful, and I love them to death. This is not a rebuff of their worth. They shaped me, changed me, and our spirits danced together for a while, or for a long time. They were part of my tribe and they continue to mean a lot to me. They helped me through the hardest times I have ever gone through and I will never forget that. But as it turns out, they speak English, but in many cases now, they don’t speak my language. At least, not as well as they used to.

The truth is, after almost a year abroad, we don’t have as much in common anymore. Their lives have carried on, and my life has pirouetted and danced along its own path as well. The things that matter to us now are very, very different. I can’t talk about what is important to me, my dreams, my thoughts, my burning questions about life, my experiences, my observations, my SOUL, without sounding insincere.

The path is not always easy.

Other than my ex, there have been three people whom I have made a conscious choice to walk away from. For one reason or another, they are not good people to continue to be in my life, so I stopped interacting with them. It’s tough. Each time I made this choice, I questioned myself, worried that it was my fault, overanalyzed every interaction, even cried. Ultimately, though, it was the right decision. As someone who has struggled mightily with depression all my life, I can tell you with certitude that my life minus the most negative person I know equals about 80% less depression. Subtract the other three, and make that 90% less depression.

Be open to changing course. In fact, embrace it.

But what about the others? With a couple special people, nothing at all has changed. That’s great. But with the majority, I am generally less important to them. I am no longer their best friend (in some cases I never was), and I should not pretend to be. I still love and care about them and hope the best for them, but I can do that from this new distance that has nothing to do with terrestrial mileage. I can appreciate what we had, and what remains. I don’t have to pine away for what has changed. I chose this path, after all.

If you are human, you will evolve over time. If you are actively trying to change your life, like I am, this should happen rapidly. Often, this happens separately from the people around you. And that’s okay. You can still care and it doesn’t have to be the same as it was.

Even as you evolve and seek your tribe, even as you seek the people who sing to your soul, you can gently let go of the ones who sang to you previously, and always treasure their song in your memory. Their specialness does not fade as your paths diverge, even when others take up a more prominent residence in your heart.

Never stop moving forward along your road, whatever it may be and wherever it may lead.