How To Curate a Little Black Book of Connections + Community
I get by with a little help from my friends.
It's a lesson I keep learning. As someone who's naturally introverted, stubbornly independent, and marginally capable, I have a tendency to shy away from asking for advice or help for fear that I'll be burdening the people around me.
We all know that's bullshit, right?
I have never felt burdened when someone asked for my help and truly needed it. EVER. In fact, when someone asks for my help, I often feel grateful towards that person for seeing me and trusting me with their questions.
For a long time, I could count on one hand the people I felt comfortable asking for help. The smallness of that number felt inhibitive and restrictive. And instead of using my tiny community when I needed them, I felt that I could only ask for help when I really, really, really needed it, for fear that I'd make too many tallies on the imaginary ledger running between us—which would, again, make me be a nuisance to these few people I trusted so much.
Thank god I got over that.
Truth is, I went to a past life regression meditation that showed me what a whole life looked like (turns out, this 'not asking for help' thing is a theme for me) when I lived this way. SPOILER: It's pretty boring. I saw a past life that was fine, but not that fun. After that, I just decided to start asking for help as often as I could—and to offset my discomfort with this exercise, I started offering to help more often, too.
Say to say my whole life changed when I started living like this. Holy shit, am I grateful.
Maybe you already have a robust community of people who love you, support you, and help you. Or maybe you're a little like me, and that's challenging for you—but you'd love to grow your own personal tribe. Regardless, I hope you try the exercise below—it's pretty illuminating!
How to Curate A Little Black Book of Connections & Guides
Connections & Guides are people in your life who are experts in a certain dimension. We can't expect everyone in our inner circle to be an expert at everything—otherwise they wouldn't be experts. Likewise, we don't need to assume that our Connections & Guides need to be our best friends in the world. Connections & Guides can be acquaintances you trust, friends, co-workers, or even mentors or practitioners. They don't necessarily need to be someone that you'd sit down and get a drink with every day of the week—but they do need to be someone that you feel comfortable writing to or calling on the phone for advice. And in order to get to that place, you'll need to cultivate a relationship with them. I trust you'll intuit how to do this, as it varies per relationship : )
Step 1: The Categories List
Because we can't expect everyone to everything to us, it's helpful to silo off people as 'experts' in a certain category. Here's what my Little Black Book of Connections & Guides categories are:
- Health: All things to do with fitness, nutrition, herbalism, hormones. I have a few people in this category, and they're also who I chat mental health with.
- Relationships: Your Cancer friend / high EQ friend? THIS ONE!
- Life Advice: The person or people you can have big, philosophical, soul-nurturing, deep conversations with. Someone with a clear perspective.
- Fun: Low-brow fun and high-brow fun. Get you a guide who can do both.
- Inner Life: A guide for the spiritual side of you.
- Work: Career guidance and advice. Helpful to have a few people who are experts in different aspects of the work you do, as well as people who are in different stages of their careers. I like to talk to people who are going through the same things as I am in real time and talk to people who have already done it before and can encourage me to keep trodding forward.
Take a moment, and write these categories down in your journal. If there's an aspect of your life that you think is missing, add it. Then, write down at least two people in your life who could serve as connections or guides for you in every bullet. Try to have a varied list, and not too many repeat contacts.
Once you have your list, let each person you've written down know that you consider them a Connection or Guide, and that you value them. A quick text, IG message, or even telepathic thought will suffice. (But it's always nice to tell someone IRL, ya know?)
Can't think of anyone? That's OK. That's where the next part of the exercise comes in.
Step 2: Defining Your Expertise and Seeing How You Can Help Others
Here's the fun part. Take a few minutes and write down what you are an 'expert' in. It can be as light or as heavy as you'd like. For example, I'm super sensitive so I'm an expert in empathizing with people when they go through breakups, or, I'm amazing at figuring out what types of clothes look good on my friends, or, I'm a physical therapist, so I can answer anyone's questions about their bodies. I'm sure when you really think about it, you have so much to offer and share with others that you don't even realize.
Now you write down five people in your life that you are a guide or connection for, and what category or specialty you think you offer them, and how you do that. Huh? OK, here's an example from my list:
Mel : Low-brow and high-brow fun, because I send her hilarious memes all day long but I'm always up to explore museums and see performances and plays with her because I was an artist.
It's OK if it's difficult to think of five people you're a guide to. The odds are pretty good that you are someone's Connection or Guide in a way that you don't realize—hence, why I'm encouraging you to tell your Guides how valuable they are to you!
If you've made your lists, and you find them lacking, that's OK. They'll grow as you reach out more and consciously cultivate your community. I noticed that the more I offered to help others, without expecting anything in return, the more these special Guides started to show up in my life. Funny how life works like that, right?
Who are some of your most trusted, important Connections & Guides? Tag them in the comments section below!