By Julie Provost
For an introvert, the idea of walking into a room full of people–in hopes of making a new friend–is overwhelming. Social anxieties can make a PCS and new duty station even more challenging. But as milspouses, finding new friends is a must. So what can an introvert do to make friends at their new base?
Make it a goal
Make finding friends a goal of yours. If you do, you will be more likely to get out and meet people. Don’t stay in your house all of the time. Figure out ways to meet people and set a time frame for yourself.
Find fun things to do
If you like to read, find a book club. If you are into sports, look for an adult league. Find groups that do things you already like to do. That way, no matter who you meet or who you don’t, you will still be enjoying yourself. You will be able to meet people that you already know you have something in common with. That can help make friendship a little more possible.
Use your kids if you have them
Take your kids to playgroups, mommy groups, and to the park. Children need friends too, and they can force you out of your comfort zone. There are a lot of activities both on base and off to take your kids to and while there you can hopefully make some new friends.
Be open to new friends. Before you go anywhere, think about the possibilities of finding a friend. Even something like a trip to the commissary can result in a new friendship. As you go about your day, always be open to new friendships.
A smile can go a long way and doing so requires zero words. When you walk into a room, go to a new meeting, or just walk by someone, smile. This lets others know that you are open to getting to know them better and are a friendly person.
The internet can be your best bet for finding new friends as an introvert. There are many groups on Facebook based around your duty station, the branch your spouse is in, or even what you are interested in. Search and join a few. Look for meetups. Asking this online is easier than in person. Make sure your first meetup location is in a public place and use PERSEC.
Ask open-ended questions
When you are in a new group of people, the idea of small talk can be annoying. The best thing to do is come into the place with open-ended questions you can ask people like, “Where are you from? How old are your kids? What do you do for work? How long have you lived here?” If you do, you will open up the conversation, learn more about the people you meet, and find out what you might have in common.
At the end of the day, be yourself. When you are, you will be able to make friends with people who like you for who you are. This can be channeling sometimes when it feels like you don’t belong, but the truth is, most people feel that way, too.
Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.