The Introvert’s Guide to Finding Your Tribe

Making friends at each of your spouse’s new duty stations is already inherently difficult. How can you possibly hope to find your tribe of military spouse friends, when you’re an introvert? The answer, my friends, is quite simple. Just wait to be adopted by an extrovert!

But seriously, for many introverts, the prospect of becoming a military spouse is a daunting thought, and not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Each inevitable PCS/move has an added complication (besides the whole packing up your life every 2-3 years thing). The added complication is that with each move you must make an entirely new group of friends (or suffer in silence when you’re partner is absent and you’re craving adult company).

While I’m a self-described ambivert (meaning that I exhibit traits of both extroverts and introverts) I came across a post, written by Facebooker Audrey McCollum, and labeled “Understanding Introverts (Part 1), that – almost – perfectly described me. Here’s her list. Do any of these resonate with you?

Introverts = Do not care for clingy people; clinginess from a child is about as much as they can take 

Introverts = Enjoy being alone

Introverts = Mean no harm in being around a group of people and not saying a word 

Introverts = Don’t often like to be around large crowds (if they don’t have to be).

Introverts = Will stay at home and watch reruns, alone, with no care in the world

Introverts = When sleepy, they get very quiet, extremely irritable and/or act really silly 

Introverts = Don’t care to go out much, but will, at times 

Introverts = Don’t really care about a lot of things they can’t change; they’re more like “Aw, ok” [as they pull the covers back over their head and snuggle deeper into their bed sheets].

I’ll also add that sometimes, for introverts, the thought of mingling with others can be just plain anxiety-inducing.

If the shoe fits, you just may be an introvert. Claim your self-diagnosis with pride. Then, figure out how to conquer it – at least long enough to make a few friends who will understand your quirks and who may just become framily.

The Introvert’s Guide to Finding Your MilTribe

    First, define what “tribe” means to you? For me, a “tribe” doesn’t conjure up images of a huge group a people. Rather, it makes me think of a small, select group of people that I identify with in some way, want to support, genuinely enjoy being around and can see myself engaging with for years to come (or at least wanting to). Not to invoke a cliche here, but I’m an advocate for quality over quantity any day.
    Unfortunately, making new friends often necessitates that introverts engage in, horror of horrors, dreaded networking! Actually, when you’re properly armed, networking doesn’t have be as frightening (or tiring) as it seems.
    • Scour local publications, social media groups (especially those geared toward military spouses in your area), MeetUp groups, and your base’s event calendar to see what events are coming up.
    • After you’ve identified an event to attend, you’ll need to figure out where your anxiety/fear/trepidation stems from (if the thought of attending an event inspires those types of feelings in you). Understanding why you feel the way you do, then addressing that feeling in some way, can work wonders. Are you socially exhausted? Physically tired? Prepare to give yourself a mental push/pep talk.
    • Start prepping early.
      • Get plenty of rest the day before and enjoy a few moments of absolute solitude, if you can snag them.
      • Think about your goals/mission. What do you hope to gain from attending the event? Are you information gathering? Do you hope to make possible new friends? Make career connections? Just spend a couple of hours outside of your home?
      • Prepare at least five (5) questions to serve as conversation starters. Rotate your questions as you float from group to group.
      • Eat beforehand, even if refreshments will be served at the event. There’s nothing like being “hangry” and having to interact with other people. Take the edge off of your hunger first.
      • Have business cards? Make sure you take a few with you.
      • Commit to staying at the event for a certain amount of time – at least 45 minutes. Challenge yourself to stick to that timeframe, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. Your adoptive extrovert could be a conversation away.
      • Blast your favorite music or audio book on the drive/ride to the venue. Psyche yourself up with sound.
    Okay, so you may not have an event coming up, but you are trying to link up with new people. What’s the best way to tackle that?
    • Get up, get out and do something. Is there something you want to do? A castle you want to see or a restaurant you want to try? Go it alone and be your own company. You don’t have to wait for someone else and, if you allow yourself to genuinely have a good time, a new friend might approach you. If they don’t – you still had a good time and tried that new place.
    • Find opportunities to make friends as you run your daily errands. At the grocery store/commissary? As you peruse the aisles, give a stranger a random compliment. A quick “I love your shoes/hair/etc,” (without thinking too much about what you’re doing before you say it) has actually enabled me to meet some interesting people. And while we may not have exchanged numbers or developed lasting friendships, it serves as great practice, can build confidence and is an easy way to make someone else feel good. Sometimes, that type of interaction is all you need to tide you over.
    • I’ve actually seen a few military spouses do this next one: Join a milspouse social media group (a local one), then virtually introduce yourself to the members. Let them know you’re looking for an opportunity to get out/there’s a new coffeeshop you’ve been wanting to try, and ask for company. You’d be surprised at how welcoming everyone is. You may have a coffee date/play date before you know it.
    • Finally, remember, you pick your tribe. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a friendship that seemed promising at first, but ultimately isn’t. Protect your energy and space.

There are so many ways to make friends, that this list just scratches the surface. What tips and tricks do you have for someone hoping to find their own tribe?

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