Meeting People: Being Intentional About Friendships


When I say I’m an introvert I don’t mean the kind of introvert that doesn’t like big crowds or needs a minute to regroup if they have to deal with people for too long. The kind that can read a book all day and not talk to the outside world. I am the kind of introvert that wears headphones to the grocery store so no one talks to me. Hanging out with people outside of a rare few exhausts me. I have to spend the day alone to regroup afterward. It has made me very selective about who I hang out with regularly because I cannot waste the energy. It sounds bad but I really embrace it. The bad part about this is that when you move every few years it’s hard to make friends if you don’t want to leave the house.

I still remember one move where I took my daughter to ballet class for the first time and I called two of my dearest friends from my previous duty station. Both of them had to convince me to go back into the studio (which I had fled initially) and to talk to the other moms. I’ll be forever thankful that they pushed me to do that because I made two new friends. I just need you to understand my nonsense to really comprehend how these next words impact my soul. My entire family is full of extroverts. My husband, all my children. They have not met a stranger. I have one kid that walks the line between introvert and extrovert but as soon as he knows you, you’re his best friend. This is what makes my life exceedingly difficult. These people want friends and preferably a lot of them. Where does that leave me? It leaves me making a serious effort to introduce my kids to people and get them into activities and take them to the park so that they make friends.

I have to be intentional about going out and engaging with other people when we get to a new location. My children all have activities that they do from place to place. For my boys it’s soccer and for my daughter it’s ballet. We recently have been living in Japan which means that they’ve played soccer and danced ballet with host nation teams which have helped them with the language and culture. Each time we move I look for a new team and a new dance studio as a place to make “instant” friends for my kids. I also take them to the park to meet kids in the neighborhood. I love that we move in the summer so it doesn’t disrupt their school schedule but that also means that there is no school for them to make friends. I also try to sign them up for on-base activities to help with getting to know the people they’ll most likely go to school with. They’re little things that take effort on my part but help them to acclimate and make friends while also meeting their introvert needs.

Being an introvert means I have to work harder to help my kids in a situation that they wouldn’t be in without a move and it means I have to actually talk to the other moms to make some friends of my own. That actually might be the hardest part. My toddler did tell me the other day that the park had too many people and he would like to come back later so maybe I do have an introvert on my hands.

So if you see the mom with a toddler next to her and they both have headphones while they watch the rest of their family play just wave, it’s probably me.

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Leslie Thomas
Hey ya’ll! I’m Leslie and I’m a homeschooling mom of 4, a Navy wife, and a doctor when we’re stateside. I’m from South Carolina but we’ve lived in the southeast of the United States for the past 10 years and currently reside in Sasebo, Japan. In case you don’t know, that's near the bottom of Japan. It's a crazy change, but a welcome one. I love books and movies. I’m passionate about mission work and teaching my kids to find their own relationship with Jesus Christ. And I love our military community. Family is what you make it and I have found my village over and over again in other mamas that are traveling this path with me and I’m blessed for it.