A few weeks ago, I highlighted some of the common advantages of networking among people with fellow commonalities. Whenever anyone finds himself (or herself) living abroad, there may be many opportunities where socialising with fellow countrymen or even persons of one's own ethnicity will present itself. And while finding kindred spirits among our own kind can be refreshing, two things can be said: 1 ) common interests can also be well-received between two people who seemingly have nothing linking them; and 2) staying amongst people sharing a commonality (whether it be nationality, ethnicity, race) can have its downsides. Here are the top dark sides of networking among your own kind.
It can feel claustrophobic (especially when you're from a small country). Let's face it, some of us live abroad because we want freedom to be ourselves and/or find ourselves without a link (however direct or indirect) to the nosy neighbours back home.
Solidarity can be a breeding ground for jealousy (whether you work in other sectors or in the same sector or even same office). Some of us come just for a short time, others come with no timeline. Some come to stay in one place, others come to move forward. There's no shame in that but sometimes moving forward among your own kind makes others jealous.
Commonalities can lend itself to opposition, sometimes even enmity. Sometimes arguments, no matter with whom, can start out over a common ground; but somehow, over the course of the argument, friends end up on opposite sides of the argument and unfortunately these types of intense debates lead to deep-seated rifts that lend to long-term angst and emotional warfare.
Sometimes the community can be a place to hide, which is also not ideal. Let's be truthful: some people find a community to network and branch on, some find a community to fall back on, and some find a community to hide in. While nothing is wrong with any of these types of people, hiding in a community lends itself to suboptimal circumstances and a world of disappointment, especially if (and when) that community isn't there when one needs it most.
The truth is, sometimes your own people don't want a "home" community. While some of us love to meet new people and swap stories across nationalities and life paths, some people simply come to a new place in the world to get what they came for and get out - no questions answered, no friends to be made. And that's fine - that's how some people are.
Well, there you have it - the dark side of hanging among your own kind. For some people, it works just fine and for others, it will never happen willingly. Whatever choice you make is up to you.