Yet another mandatory family fun day and you’re feeling like it will be anything but fun. All those people that you just don’t know, loud music and friendly banter.
It sounds like a recipe for a terrible day for an introvert.
This is also the stereotypical picture of what it means to be a military spouse. Given how much we move, it can often seem like the best, and often only, way to make friends is to join in these large, loud events. Or to just show up with baked goods whenever a new neighbor moves in.
Here are ways to find friends and socialize when you’re a military spouse who’s an introvert.
Find Your Peeps Online
Military spouse networks are popping up like daisies online! From blogs to Facebook to Instagram, there are so many fun people and groups to join or follow.
First, check out your base-specific Facebook groups. Sometimes these are secret or closed, and you may need to be approved by an admin. However, these groups can help you to navigate your duty station or to make new friends. From school and restaurant recommendations to the dish on what all those sirens were, base groups will give you all the information.
Next, check out blogs and pages that are service specific. For new spouses, you can learn a lot about traditions and customs. “Seasoned” spouses can share knowledge and help others. Everyone can get info on different duty stations or events, and even job opportunities!
Beyond branch of service and duty stations, there are Facebook groups for professional military spouses, spouses who blog, spouses who are attorneys and spouses who (fill in the blank). There are also tons of blogs covering all aspects of military life, from helping parents with K-12 education to parenting to everyday military life. Check it out!
Connect Offline Too
Once you join a few online groups, try to keep track of other people that have similar interests or that you have interacted with. You could both be commenting on the same posts, asking the same questions or live in the same neighborhood.
Send a private message to someone that you think might be a good friend for you. Chat online until you (or your friend) feel comfortable bringing up meeting in real life. Get together for coffee or go do something that both of you enjoy. It could be anything from cosplay to riding horses to sitting on the beach.
Use Friends to Make Friends
Once you have a core group of friends at your current duty station, try to find new friends through them. It’s a small world in the military. Chances are good that your friends will know at least one person at your next hometown. When you get orders, ask your IRL or online friends to help you make connections.
Or your friends might be able to expand your friendship circle where you already live. Take a chance and invite a friend of a friend to join you for coffee or drinks.
If you have kids, you can even use them to make new connections. Reach out to the parents of a good friend of your own child and schedule a play date or playground meet-up. A play date will have a specific end time, and you can get to know the other parent(s) over coffee at home.
Playgrounds are neutral territory and you can make an easy exit if things aren’t going well.
Alternately, you could keep the fun going or schedule another get together easily.
Check Out Specialty Groups
What do you like? Check online and on base for like-minded groups. There are groups for runners, bloggers, people of all religious faiths, book clubs and the list goes on.
You could connect online at first and then check out a group meet-up later.
Getting to know other people who share your interests can help you to connect with the military and civilian population. Plus, there will likely be similar groups at many bases. When you move, reach out to the local chapter of your group. You’ll be able to make friends more quickly and easily!
Socialize on Your Terms
Sometimes typical military spouse tasks are unavoidable, but you can make them your own. Try to volunteer or participate on your terms.
Offer to help with the children’s corner, organize donated items or bring items for a potluck. You’ll be helping out the unit and meeting new people, just in smaller doses. You never know if you might bond over sharing apple pie recipes or figuring out the best way to get care packages to deployed troops for the holidays!
Take a Break
Being an introvert, you value your alone time. Honor your needs and take a break when you need one. You could duck outside at a party or take a walk during a family fun day. Plus, it is not unusual at all for people to use their smartphones, so don’t hesitate to escape into Facebook for a little while.
If you simply don’t want to take on a task or attend an event, decline graciously or suggest an alternative. You shouldn’t be afraid to say no!
No matter how you choose to make friends, having a strong support network can be key to making the most of military life!