Community is survival for military spouses. Each of us needs to feel a sense of belonging to a larger group in order to thrive in our military culture. Sociologists, therapists and even our spouses tell us that we need to connect and connect quickly.
But how do you build a trusting tribe when you are uprooted every 3 years?
This month at NextGen MilSpouse, we are focusing on the tribes in our lives. The most obvious tribe is our military spouse network or mafia (as I like to call it). These men and women are often a supportive emotional net to catch you, brush you off and lead you back to the tightrope on your worst days. But this tight-knit, no-secrets military community can be a suffocating fishbowl that leads some military spouses, especially the introverts, to retreat inside their homes.
The military community is one aspect of your life. But it isn’t the only aspect. At NextGen MilSpouse we understand that you aren’t defined by your role as a military spouse. You are a multifaceted person who juggles many different roles daily. Within each of these roles, you need to have a supportive tribe, a tribe that you can lean on in times of need and a tribe you can celebrate with in times of triumph.
5 Off-Base Tribes Where Military Spouses Thrive
Your 9-to-5 Tribe
This tribe is composed of your co-workers who love to chat about last night’s episode of Scandal over a cup of coffee. They are ones who help you escape the alphabet soup of military conversation and the constant threat of downsizing the Armed Forces. They challenge you professionally and offer to watch your children when you need to travel for work. Your professional tribe is made up of your boss, your co-workers, your mentor and your professional network. Bonus: If your 9-to-5 Tribe includes a few military spouses, too!
Your Hobby Tribe
It could be running, wine or reading, but this tribe bonds through one similar interest. In this tribe, members are often in different seasons of life, but yet feel comfortable together because of this core interest. Your Hobby Tribe members will challenge you to read a book that is completely out of your comfort zone or sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon. You can find these tribal members at your local fitness centers, libraries or on Meetup.
Your Diaper Duty Tribe
It starts with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and ends with PTA meetings. In this tribe you have a common threat of surviving sleepless nights and soccer tournaments. When your babies are still in diapers, you are the one choosing the tribal members. But as your child grows, parents find themselves pairing up with the parents of their children’s friends. Tribal members can be identified by diaper bags and countless photos of babies on their phones. They are eager to pass along their advice, so come prepare with questions about local recommendations. Look for these tribal members at Back to School night and library story times.
Your Make-The-World-Suck-Less Tribe
For do-gooders who love to do good, this is your tribe. You are passionate about a particular nonprofit organization and your payment comes in good vibes. These tribal members understand that you sacrifice your nights and weekends to hang with them. In this tribe, you aren’t forced to do a particular task. You can find that one that matches your talents. Sometimes this tribal experience leads to a 9-to-5 Tribe and sometimes it’s a way to fill a gap on your resume. Whatever the case, Make-The-World-Suck-Less Tribes are never a waste of time. Find one near you at VolunteerMatch.
Your 24/7 Tribe
Call it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Your virtual tribe doesn’t care if you live 3 time zones away. They are always available for a “like” or RT. This tribe was made up of a wide range of people starting with your mother and ending with a friend you’ve never met in “real life.” In today’s world, this is most likely your largest tribe. It allows you to move away, but never say good-bye. This tribe is probably full of amazing military spouses, too. Just sayin’.
Are you a member of any tribes outside the military? How do you quickly make friends at a new military installation?