So happy to have this guest post by Victoria on loneliness and what you can do about it during military life. Please email me at Julie@soldierswifecrazylife.com and let me know if you would like to write a guest post for Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life too.
“I’m having trouble fitting in around here.”
“How can I make friends at this new base?”
I see these comments or variations on many military spouse websites. And, of course, the pandemic didn’t help the feeling of loneliness and isolation. If you are a MilSpo, you have felt this at one time or another. You’ve just moved to a new location. You haven’t had time to explore your new community or meet the neighbors, what with unpacking boxes and enrolling the kids in their new school, and getting them settled.
When we moved to Oklahoma in 2009, my adult daughter was concerned because we had been there for a few months, and I wasn’t talking about any new friends yet. I’m uber extroverted, so for me not to be relating stories about all the new friends I’d made by now was disconcerting for her.
The problem was that we only had one car, and we didn’t live on base, so it was harder for me to get around and meet people. I assured her I was okay, and I had a lunch date with a group of women the next day. Life was good, although I was more than ready to get my social life going.
I’m afraid my advice for counteracting loneliness might not sit well with introverts. However, it is necessary if you want to get the most out of your military assignment.
Get Out: You have to get out of your house and introduce yourself to your neighbors—whether you live on base or post. People are busy, so the days when neighbors stopped by with a plate of cookies are rare, even though their intentions might be good. In Oklahoma, I made the cookies and took them to the neighbors to introduce myself.
Join In: Join, join, join anything that interests you: spouse clubs, chapel groups, the PTA at your children’s school. Anywhere you can find like-minded people. Spouse clubs usually have smaller clubs such as book clubs, Bunko, golf, bowling, Mahjong — just about anything you are interested in doing.
Volunteer: When you help out others, you are helping yourself as well. So many organizations on base can use your help, and I’ve made some of my closest friends through volunteering. Check with your Family Readiness Center for volunteer opportunities on your installation.
Do It: I can hear some of you already saying you are shy and have a tough time putting yourself out there. My response is to say, “too bad. Suck it up and do it anyway.” Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is necessary to make an effort to find your niche if you want to get the most enjoyment out of your life as a MilSpo. And remember, the more you do it, the easier it gets!
Victoria Terrinoni is the author of “Where You Go, I Will Go: Lessons From a Military Spouse,” available on Amazon. Her husband, Dave, retired in 2018 after 31 years in the Air Force. They live in central Illinois so that they can spoil two of their four grandchildren. She has a blog about her military life at https://victoriaterrinoni.wordpress.com