Finding Your Tribe in the Most Unexpected Places

When we first moved to the San Antonio area, I desperately missed my old friends and craved a tribe of local ladies to call my own. I decided that the only thing to do was to dive into every PTA opportunity, YMCA class, and neighborhood social in an effort to try and find my people. But none of those attempts necessarily led me to my people. In fact, month after month of putting myself out there (which is difficult for an introvert like myself), I got so discouraged that I finally threw my hands in the air, headed back to bed, buried my head under the covers, and officially declared that I was done trying and that maybe I didn’t really need any friends.

I mean, I had my dog and my cats. That was enough. Right?

But a funny thing happened when I finally stopped trying so hard to find my people. My people found me in the most unlikely of places: the school bus stop.

Over the course of weeks, months, and many early morning and afternoon bus stop visits, I got to know the group of moms who were there dropping off and picking up their kids. As is to be expected, our exchanges started out as awkward small talk. Most of us didn’t even have kids in the same grades, but day after day of seeing one another and being present as life was happening right in front of us, knitted us together in the most effortless but powerfully authentic way.

If you think about it, the bus stop offers a glimpse of real life in action. At 6:26 A.M. in the blowing rain, there’s no hiding behind a cute outfit and perfect hair. You’re seeing everyone’s kids, grumpy and belligerent on Monday mornings, and jubilant and charming on Friday afternoons. You know what everyone is doing for dinner on any given night. You know when someone’s baby has been battling a cold and you take your collection of children’s cold remedies to offer her at the bus stop. You also know whose spouse is on someone’s VERY. LAST. NERVE.

When you ask, “How’s it going?” brace yourself, because you’ll get the real answer—not a rosy synopsis of the highlight reel. At our bus stop, we see each other every day—warts and all—and have made a real connection.

In this season of life, it’s hard to find time to meet up with friends. Schedules are hectic and confining, and everyone is constantly going in different directions. But our bus stop is our standing appointment—sometimes twice a day—to see each other and check in. We’re showing up every day to drop off and pick up our kids at the bus stop, but we’re also showing up every day for each other.

My kids now are at the age where they don’t even need me to take them or pick them up at the bus stop anymore, but I go anyway, because I crave the fellowship. Do I think that I got lucky, that my most favorite people happen to live within a quarter of a mile from my house and have kids who go to the same elementary school as mine? Absolutely. But, I also know that I might not have given these people a chance if it were not for the daily interactions that the bus stop has afforded us. We are all different ages, sometimes have different views on life, and grew up in different parts of the country—so you could say that we don’t have much in common, but these day-to-day interactions bond us.

Our bus stop fellowship offers us the interactions that many of us are missing these days. It’s so easy to hide behind our phones and “get to know” people via social media, but that’s not the only way to forge true friendships. I urge you not to be remiss in seeking out connections right at the end of your own block. Look around in your daily life. Let your guard down a little and let people in. Share with them your struggles and let them see you. You just might find that the people whom you might not think are “your people,” will absolutely become “your people” with a little time, transparency, and familiarity.

Jenny is a 40-something, married mother of two (Anna, 2007 and Jack, 2009), who migrated to the Hill Country after doing a 14 year stint in Houston. When Jenny isn’t walking her slightly neurotic (and completely beloved) rescued Weimaraner, she enjoys writing, making to-do lists, and folding laundry (and sarcasm). Jenny holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, and completed graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling. She is a freelance writer who writes a weekly pet column for a Houston newspaper, and is a contributor at Dog Friendly San Antonio, New Braunfels Monthly and San Antonio Woman, as well as assorted other publications. You can also find her on Instagram (introvertsguidetosobriety). Favorite Restaurant: Bohanan's Favorite Landmark: The Alamo (duh) Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Wurstfest (not technically SAT, but closer to Jenny's stomping grounds).