The military lifestyle is what many consider to be an extrovert’s world. The season of military balls and holiday parties around the corner brings the exciting opportunity to meet the spouse’s coworkers and make new friends.
For the rest of us, the introverts, it brings an obligatory sense of socializing with the requirement to accept an invitation to an event that we aren’t mentally prepared to attend.
I have no problem with admitting to being an introvert; it’s part of what makes me who I am. However, being an introvert and a military spouse is probably not the best combination. I enjoy the new adventures that come with moving every so often. However, there are always the dreaded first impressions and first conversations to deal with in every move. Even as someone who enjoys public speaking, events such as meeting my husband’s coworkers, job interviews and seasonal parties can be a challenge.
And though it is hard to attend such events as an introverted person, there are benefits in trying to be social at least every now and then, because getting to know people and making new friends is usually good. I have experimented enough times to see the benefits of pushing through my comfort zone to develop genuine connections and I usually walk away tired, but with a new friendship that will last a lifetime.
So, prepare for an evening of getting to know the people in your military community with three easy tips:
First, skip past the small talk and delve into who people are. Learn to ask questions that go deeper than inquiring about the weather or the latest event in pop culture. Most people enjoy speaking about themselves, and, with intriguing questions, you can have a genuine conversation where you get to know someone, versus the small talk with the awkward pauses and fake laughs. This will also help you to determine if this is a friendly conversation with someone that can develop into a relationship that can last.
Second, it’s OK to play the extrovert for just one event. The worst that could happen is the conversation or the situation gets terribly awkward, because you don’t know what to say and then it’s over. But don’t worry, because most likely you or they are moving sooner or later …
And last, accept that you are an introvert and show it! The faster people realize what type of person you are, the faster you can get comfortable. So go out there and be confident in your ability to re-energize with solitude after the party is done.
Being an introverted military spouse can be a real struggle, but in our military lifestyle that is focused on unity, community and making friends, we have to learn how to adapt. And we can adapt — the same way we do every day, no matter where we are stationed.
— LaPora Lindsey is a professional resumé writer. She and her Navy officer husband have two children and live in Silverdale. She has a master’s degree in administration and a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications from the University of West Florida. She enjoys volunteering in her free time. Contact her at email@example.com.