Dear Military Spouse Who Doesn’t Fit In,
I see you there in the corner of the room at our FRG meeting. You’re standing a little bit away from everyone else, shifting back and forth uncomfortably as you scroll through your Instagram feed. Every so often, you glance up, smiling shyly if someone makes eye contact and returning to your phone when their gaze moves to someone else.
Everyone in the room seems to know everyone…except you. Bits of conversations about pregnancy, babies, deployment experiences, pcs horror stories, and career problems float around you but somehow you can’t find the right words to join in any of them. You think to yourself for the twelfth time in the last half hour that this whole making friends deal is so much harder than it looks.
Dear friend, I see you. I hear you. I’ve been you.
(In fact, I’m encouraging myself with this letter just as much as I’m trying to encourage you.)
In my personal experience, it can be hard to find where each of us fits in this military community of ours. We are united as a group by our spouse’s job description but each of us comes from our own unique backgrounds and life experiences. With so much diversity, it’s really no wonder that making friendships can be difficult.
Even though it doesn’t seem like it as you glance around the room, each military spouse in front of you has felt that same sense of dread you’re feeling right now. Each of us, from newcomer to thirty-year veteran, has walked into a room full of complete strangers at some point in our military lives.
Take heart, friend, and keep an open mind.
Don’t dismiss someone as a friend because of the presence-or lack-of children. A mother of three can be just as great of a friend to someone with no children as she is to a mom of five. Conversely, if you’re that mom of three, reach out to the non-moms in the group (and maybe don’t ask if and when they’ll have little ones).
Leave your spouse’s rank at the door. It’s a pretty well-known mantra around the military community that spouses don’t have rank. It’s well-known for two reasons–1) because it’s 150% true and 2) because some spouses think they do. Don’t be that spouse.
Remember that first impressions aren’t always right. Maybe you think that spouse on her phone is aloof and snooty but in reality, she’s simply nervous and shy. It may be that the spouse who seemed rude and tactless at your first meeting was just having a bad day. In your spouse’s career, you will probably meet people who fit into both of those categories but it’s always better to reserve snap judgments.
Give yourself grace. Grace to fit in. Grace not to fit in. Grace to find a friend after your first FRG meeting and grace to find a friend after eighteen of them.
Never doubt yourself as a person, as a wife, as a mom, as a military spouse because you don’t fit into the mold of the majority.
Military life can be incredibly lonely sometimes, and feeling out of place in the military spouse community is a struggle many of us have faced. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone a little and talk to someone new at the next ‘mandatory fun’ event.
And don’t stop there!
Join the base gym, explore a new mom group, reach out to the ladies in your church, start a blog (hi there!) –the military spouse community is vast and varied so don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know where you’ll find your tribe.
The more I thought about this post the more I realized how universal this problem really is, in civilian communities just as much as military ones. Do you have a hard time making friends as an adult?
Any reminders you’d add to this list for spouses who are struggling to find their place within our community?