Growth is something we all aspire for in our lives. Whether that’s growth in our professional or personal lives, and no matter the depth or intensity we all want to grow to a certain extent. But growth, much like most things in life, cannot be achieved alone.
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
This is something that I truly realized when I first moved to The Netherlands three and a half years ago with my husband and five children. My whole life changed. It turned upside down.
It was a very challenging time in my life and most of the time I was just overwhelmed. There was so much to do in settling in, so much to learn, so much to understand. Before our relocation, I had a business called Just Relish, a restaurant business, catering for almost all the oil companies in my city including the state government. Before then I was in a clothing business for five years. I had plans about my life and a vision of where I wanted to see my career go. But it was hard to think about that when I was trying to adjust to this new lifestyle, this new culture, and new language and worrying about how my children will do the same.
I saw my dreams slipping away. I almost lost my confidence; I was going into a depression.
And this wasn’t a phenomenon that was unique to myself. Expatriate depression is a very real thing that affects many individuals who decide to move abroad. Moving abroad seems like a great fantasy, and it is. But reality is when we move abroad it’s not just about adventures. We’re uprooting ourselves from a life we already know, may have already found the perfect balance too. And suddenly we’re thrown into a situation where we have to find our footing again and adjusting to a new life in a place we’re completely unfamiliar with can cause depression. And that can cause you to lose focus on all your plans, goals and dreams.
How do you manage all these new burdens, keep motivated and find the right resources you need to pick up your dreams again?
I found all the answers when I found my tribe. Joining a tribe of like-minded people helped inspire me, encourage me, and I also found a place where I can ask all my questions without feeling judgment, and receive helpful answers.
“When you hang with your tribe, you feel invigorated, recognized, and understood – you can’t underestimate the powerful effects of being fortified in that way. When you have your tribe on speed dial, you’ve got all the resources you need to fuel up, fly straight and head back out to face the world at large.” – Danielle LaPorte
It even helped reduce the stress I felt about moving into an entirely new country, and there’s science behind that. In a study by UCLA’s Dr. Laura Klein she states that “It seems that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect.”
And with that support I found it easier to find my footing and relentlessly go after my dreams and goals again. That’s why I want to encourage you never to give up on your ideas. You can pick up from where you stopped. If I could do it, anyone can do it. Today, I have my food business, where I teach cooking workshop and package spices. I also have my business mastermind and mentorship program. I feel fulfilled both in my personal and professional life.
Finding a community can be a challenge. I was part of many tribes including the Shell career community, Women Business Initiatives, BNI, BSN international reps which I led, to mention but a few. The first one I joined, I was the only one there who did not speak Dutch but at the very least they allowed me to address them in English and didn’t make me feel excluded even if they started speaking Dutch to each other. You just need to be proactive in looking for a tribe that resonates with you, share your goals and dreams and understand the challenges you are going through. You don’t even need to stick to just one but at the same time don’t overwhelm yourself with too many. I have communities I interact with on a consistent basis that include fellow entrepreneurs, fellow women leaders and fellow mothers.
But when you find your community, make sure that you get the most out of your new network through the following tips.
Establish your objectives
You won’t know if a tribe is a great fit for you if you don’t define your goals. Defining your goals will help you in selecting the right community to join.
Be present at all meetings, as this is a way for you to establish credibility and trust. When people don’t know you and don’t know what you’re seeking for, then you may not get the help you need.
We all have gifts and talents to share, so be generous with your own knowledge. You know about the law of attraction, what you give, you receive. When you’re willing to help others, you’ll receive that help right back.
Share! Share! Share!
In our tribe, we’re all in the same boat in one way or another. We all want to grow and we all want to succeed. Be open in receiving and sharing data and information that you come across in your daily life. You never know if information might be something valuable to someone in your group, even if it’s trivial for you.
Learn to Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Trust in your tribe to support you and not judge you when you need help. Be very open and honest about what is happening around you at that moment and you can be amazed how the group can come together to solve the problem. Talk about your goals. I have been in a group where everyone stands up and shares their challenges and every other person provide solutions instantly. That’s the power of a tribe. That’s the most important way to leverage it.
Share your failures and successes. If you need support, then you have to be upfront with what is going on, so people can rejoice with you or continue to find ways to help you or motivate you. Your tribe should be your second family. Don’t hurt in silence.
Have you found your tribe yet?
Ebere Akadiri is A Nigerian Food Entrepreneur who lives in The Hague. Her passion to inspire others to achieve their goals drove her to found Rise and Lead Women along with her co-founder, Poonam Barua. Their mission is to inspire women to take the lead in closing the gender gap in workplaces and in business.