Have you ever felt out of place? As though you’re the square peg surrounded by round holes and you just do not fit? You’re not fish, you’re not fowl — You are something in-between that has no place and no tribe of its own? What took me a while to discover was that we are all just searching for someone to meet us at our place of need.

I have felt this way often throughout my years. I just never seemed to completely belong anywhere that I was. As I got older only certain parts of me fit in. When I was goofy or fun to be around, I fit in. When I said nothing of substance, I fit in. I fit one specific role and when I deviated from that role, is when it became blatantly obvious that this was no longer my tribe. Every few months or so, I slipped away from view and found solace within my solitude, because there I could just be myself.

Are you the quiet one whose head is a mess of thoughts and ideas, past pain and worry? Are you the extrovert who when at home, just needs quiet time to do battle with all of the things inside of you that no one knows about? Are you the helper, the one who runs to everyone’s aide, but sits at home with unattended needs of your own? Are you the guy who shows endless consideration for all things alike and when you get home, no one is considering you?

The truth is, all of us are facing something that no one knows about. Sometimes not even the people within our four walls. How do these things that we tackle in quiet solace, translate into the masks that we wear? What if we all took off those masks and showed the world who we really were? What if our battles were completely visible to the world around us? Would we be understood any better if everyone could clearly see what we grapple with?

I post inspirational blogs because I know what it’s like to be searching for plain answers in a world that is seemingly speaking in code. I talk about my experiences so that someone who is facing what I have faced, will know that there is a better way through it. I talk about my feelings so that people sharing the same, know that they are not alone. Because I have felt the kind of loneliness that takes all of the good things in your life and feeds you the lie that you have nothing and no one. I help others because I know what it’s like to need help. I give advice because I know what it is to hear silence in the midst of my dilemma.

Everything that I do was first shaped into being, by all that I at one time needed. It’s not really going out on a limb to think that this is how the rest of the world operates, as well! We either withhold the things that were withheld from us, or we give it freely so that someone else isn’t left needing, in the same way that we were, at one time.

What if we were able to see the opposite of a person’s mask by watching what they give and don’t give? You’re always giving other people your time, you must need someone else’s time. You are always willing to help, you must have really needed help and had none. You are always giving sound advice to everyone who comes to you, you must have needed direction at one time and no one was there to show you the way.

What if we used what we see to decipher what we can’t see about a person and tailor our love to fit them in all of the places where they may be in need? What if you started helping the one who always helps others or randomly checked up on that friend who always checks up on you? What if you shower someone with affirmations in the same way they are always there to pat you on the back?

We think other’s needs are unspoken and unseen. That their battles are silent. But when we look at what all it is that they do for others, we can see their place of need the most — Just by looking at what they give of themselves.

It dawned on me that we deceive ourselves with looking for people who share similar interests when what we are really looking for, is people who meet us at our place of need. Thus making it all too understandable how we wind up with relationships that are not suited for us. Because we focused on the commonalities that will always be ever-changing. Finding your tribe applies to every area of life. We are all looking for a place to fit in, within our surroundings. Whether it be work, school, hobbies, friends, and family – Wherever we are, we start off searching the room looking for “our people.” We have it all wrong in this sense, because people change. Their thoughts and ideas, philosophies, identities, all change as what we want for our lives, change. As we change in one form or another, we then outgrow our surroundings and subsequently, our tribe.

My husband relentlessly showers me with compliments and it used to get under my skin in the beginning of our relationship, because I didn’t feel worthy of all the wonderful sentiments that he was speaking to me. I had no problem with complimenting others and telling them how remarkable I thought they were, but as soon as those compliments shifted back in my direction, I did not know how to receive them. Because I never had a solid self-image, he was meeting me at the place of my need, which I honestly didn’t know existed in me. That was until I received his affirmations so much where they began to change the image I once had of myself. Ten years later and the man still treats me this same way! He shows me that I am not alone and that I am loved for exactly who I am. Because of his willingness to be himself, I am equally willing to be my nonsensical, silly, happy, silent, irrational, self, around him because he meets me where my need is.

It took me a while to understand though, that his constant praise of me, spoke to his need to receive positive affirmation, himself. That his showering of affection, meant that he was in need of the same. His relentless willingness to help others, came from him having needed help and none was available to him. We give to others, what it is that we need to receive the most.

If we implement this truth into how we treat others, we could have relationships that never end — Because I am meeting you at your place of need and you are meeting me at mine.

As we receive that need and begin to feel secure in that area, our needs begin to change. As we grow able to see ourselves in a different light that same light then shines back on the tribe that we have surrounded ourselves with. And when that light magnifies the fact that the tribe we are in no longer matches what we know of ourselves, we feel out of place.

The longer I’m on this path, the more that I see where I thought I had it all figured out — I really knew nothing at all. Because my outside surroundings no longer mirrored the areas in which I was changing, on the inside. It’s one thing to have knowledge or wisdom, but to be able to reflect that in your actions, reactions, etc., that’s when what you were learning, has officially clicked. So many of us go on this same path of self-discovery and feel guilty when we are back around our tribe. We feel the urge to raise that former mask, back up over our faces, to keep what we’ve always had as we fall back into the roles which we’ve always comfortably played.

Many moons ago, while my husband and I were exclusively dating, our first round of holidays together came up and there I was, on the floor and in tears. For YEARS, the holidays were a very raw time of grief for me, after losing my son. And it wasn’t just the holidays, either. I had dates in my head that signaled to a specific time of heartbreak with my son, scattered throughout my internal calendar. The day that he died, his birthday, the dates that he underwent his open heart surgeries, when he was first put on the heart transplant list and the day when he had his massive heart attack in my arms and slipped into a coma. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hide this sadness in me for all of those many memories, because it was such a significant part of being in a life with me. These dates would always come back around each year and I would most likely be a total mess with each one.

Instead of being scared off by my unraveling, my husband (then boyfriend) wrapped his arms around me and cradled me on the floor where I sat. He let me cry and then… I felt his own tears, steadily dripping down my forehead. His tears weren’t from knowing my son or even knowing what it meant to lose a child – because neither were the case — But instead, because he had enough empathy to feel the sadness that I was feeling. He lovingly told me that we didn’t have to go anywhere and could just spend the day alone, together. I have fallen in love with my husband too many times to name, over the years, and this was definitely one of those times. He met me at my place of need without hesitation and accepted me right where I was, grief and all. Thus allowing me to grow.

This is the place where your tribe is supposed to meet you. Not so much within the commonalities, but within your areas of weakness. This is where we are supposed to collectively stand in the gap for each other. The things which bring you to your lowest point and you need someone to reach down and pull you out of, that’s where your tribe comes in. I knew in this moment, that the man that I had fallen in love with, had become my tribe. The place where I belonged. All of these years later and he still is. Not because we’re married – But because we’ve continued to learn, grow and change, together. Because we’ve never stopped being the greatest of friends to one another. We have continually been by each other’s sides, at our lowest points and at our best.

To that end, it is because of my husband’s ability to consistently meet me at my place of need, allowing me do the same, that caused me to realize over the years what it is that my tribe should look like. The standards set for myself as well as those that I surround myself with, became raised because of the bar that my husband unknowingly set so high, by being unyieldingly willing to always meet me at my place of need.

If you feel like a square peg, trying to find a place where you fit in, it is for a reason. You are not meant to perfectly belong just anywhere! Maybe it used to come easy and now it doesn’t, and you feel disoriented. That is only life’s way of telling you – This isn’t your tribe anymore!

Find the tribe that represents who it is that you strive to be, not what it is that you have always been. Find the tribe that uplifts you, even when you don’t realize that you need raising. We’re not meant to stay the same person for the rest of our lives, we are meant to continually grow. With that growth comes outgrowing our surroundings. Consider it as you have leveled up! Appreciate this, and then, go find the tribe that is meant for you!