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  • Writer's pictureChi Nguyen

How to find “your people”? Fun fact, they don’t have to be that similar to you!

Thanks to my trip to Portland with other members of the National Millennial and Gen Z (NMC/GenZ) community, I had the opportunity to connect with business leaders from different organizations such as Intel and Tillamook as well as forming great friendships with intelligent young professionals from NMC/Gen Z.

As an international student from Boise, Idaho, I first saw this trip solely as a professional development opportunity. I could not imagine how this trip would have brought me joyful memories with my peers who I had not met or only met through Zoom conference meetings. Despite coming from different backgrounds varied from business administration to public relations, we shared common values such as respect, growth, and diversity. I realized that I found my people and my community where I could truly belong. This is honestly not always easy, at least for me as a Vietnamese international student who studies in Western education. I thus want to share my observations and insights on what was done and could have been done better to help me find “my people.”

1. Be confident at what you can bring to the table:

Coming from a different background, not having enough experience, or simply not as well-spoken as others, all of these reasons can make one feel awkward among others. It might sound cliche, but your experiences matter. No one has lived the exact same life as you or see things the way you see them. Find the opportunities to input your opinions, feel in the gap of knowledge, or simply initiate a conversation. If you don’t see yourself the way you want to be seen, you can’t expect others to do the same.

2. Be respectful and open-minded:

There are so many things that you can learn from others, especially your peers. They understand how to navigate the world being at your age, how to stay motivated and informed, as well as how to succeed by involving in different areas. A respectful and open conversation can be thought-provoking and insightful. You don’t need to agree with everyone, and not everyone needs to agree with your opinion for them to be valid.

3. You don’t need to be super similar:

You don’t need to have similar hobbies and interest, share similar beliefs, or come from similar backgrounds to be best friends. The true connection, in my opinion, is formed through shared values and respect. Surrounding yourself with people with different perspectives helps you grow!

4. If you don’t feel belonged to, let it go:

I think it is impossible to fit in every community and resonate with everyone, nor I think we should try to fit in blindly. After you try and still don’t feel belonged, I think it is time to reassess and see what you can learn from the experience. It might be a sign for you to find the space where you can truly belong, and don’t take things personally.


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