Thursday, August 9, 2012

One Truth I Try to Hide

Many of my blog posts have talked about the difficulties and frustrations military wives endure through deployments, demanding schedules, and having to move every few years.  Although these times are physically and mentally challenging, I have been able to stay on my feet and push through, gaining strength and character along the way.  Even at my lowest of lows, at the end of my rope, I have managed to keep hanging on until I find the strength to pull myself back up again.  But there is another aspect of being a military wife that I continue to struggle with.  This aspect which is required of me is not present only during deployments or when we move or when schedules are demanding.  It occurs all the time, pressuring me to step out of my hiding place and nagging me to push past my comfort zone.

When I was a little girl, about the ages of four to six, I was shy.  So shy that I wouldn’t talk to my teachers at pre-school, and even clammed up to some of my own family members.  I can’t explain the reason for it, all I know is that when certain people would talk to me I felt an intense need to hide, to run away so they couldn’t see me.  Over time, I outgrew my shyness and social skills continued to excel throughout my school years.  It wasn’t until college, when I entered an entirely new setting with entirely new people, that I realized I was not as socially competent as I thought.  I gained friends quickly, but still they were new people I didn’t know well and I felt awkward around them.  I always felt like I was the odd one out was just tagging along with people who already knew each other well.  I eventually found my niche but made a conscious effort to step outside my comfort zone in order to meet new people and improve my social abilities.  In fact, that is how I met my husband.  But the years that followed college have shown that some things remain within us no matter how much we try to ignore them.  They have revealed a truth from which I can no longer hide.

The truth is, I am still shy.  I do consider myself a social person, but I tend to stick to small groups of close friends rather than large groups.  This is where my struggle occurs.  As military wives, we are encouraged to attend functions which would enable us to form relationships with other wives.  When we move to a new location, we must meet new people and form new friendships.  We are urged to sign up for events which will help us to become involved in the military spouse community and, in turn, give us something to focus on while our husbands are deployed.  But for me, these things are a source of anxiety.  I enjoy meeting new people, but am easily overwhelmed when entering an entirely new group of women.  I often will look to find the one or two people I already know and will just stick by them, letting them introduce me to people rather than introducing myself.  I tend to remain fairly quiet when I am introduced because I fear saying something that will come out the wrong way and they will get a bad impression of me.  I enjoy the companionship that good friendships bring, but sometimes it takes a while for those friendships to form and I don’t always feel like putting in the effort.  Many times I have turned down invitations to spouse functions, or even smaller get togethers, because I just didn’t have the energy and desire to put myself out there as someone new.  I hid within my comfort zone and protected myself from the anxiety of what everyone else would think about me.

I don’t think I will ever completely outgrow my shyness, but I do know that I am slowly getting better at new social interactions.  I have realized that being worried about what others think of me is only a result of my own critical evaluation of myself.  I have learned that I am not the only one who is anxious about meeting new people, and perhaps there is someone else in the same place who is waiting to be introduced rather than having to introduce herself.  I have seen that when I do work up the nerve to introduce myself, I am received with a smile and a handshake, and an open invitation to conversation.  I cannot deny that when I walk into a room filled with people I don’t know, my anxiety levels rise dramatically.  But by taking a few deep breaths and reminding myself of these things I have learned, I can allow myself the possibility of knowing some amazing people and experiencing the joy of true friendship.  After all, some of the best friends I will have when I am old, the ones who will know me better than anyone else, will be the friends I make now and share with me the journey of being a military wife.


  1. I am nominating you for an award. Please go to my blog to read and accept.

  2. I am shy when you first meet me, then once I get to you know I am outgoing.
    I also want to let you know I am giving you an award.