After the last box has been unpacked and the house looks like a home, it is time to sit and relax with a warm cup of chamomile tea…okay, let’s be real, no one unpacks ALL the boxes after a PCS. It’s really more like, after the last box has been shoved into a closet so we don’t have to see it for a couple of months – I’ll get to it soon. After that, then we really can sit and relax. We can start to feel comfortable in our own surroundings.
Your spouse has gone back to work, the kids have started school and found new buddies to play with on base, and your dog is establishing his own territory in the backyard. Things are starting to come together, finally. There is plenty to do after a move, including finding new friends for yourself.
That’s customary, right? It’s pretty rare to PCS and have a network of friendships already established. If you do, consider yourself to be one of the luckiest and most extroverted people on this planet. However, if you are not the kind to hand out your friendship business card at the bus stop, you might get a little case of the lonelies after a big move.
Forging new friendships is hard (almost as hard as finding someone new to cut and color your hair!). We naturally want people to like us. One bad move and you can go from the approachable girl with the cute skirt to the crazy girl with the weird, but also cute, skirt.
Secretly, we are longing for a friendship at this assignment that surpasses all other friendships at every other assignment. We want someone who likes to go shopping, who loves wine as much as we do, and who we can call in the middle of the night to come watch the sleeping kids while you take another kid to the ER (because kids only get sick when your spouse is deployed or TDY – proven fact). That’s who we are all hoping for.
It’s so exhausting to get to that point. Every new friendship feels like a job interview. “Hi, my name is Susie, I’d love to be your friend, where may I apply?” Yes, that’s how it feels, it’s nauseating.
Is it even worth it? It should get easier with each assignment, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, as we expect more from our husbands with each passing day, our expectations for friendships also increase. Here’s the tricky part, we never know who is interviewing who.
You see, as we are searching for lasting friendships, everyone else is doing the same. You’re not the weird one. You are just one of many desperately seeking spouses of the world in your quest for modest companionship. So, pick up a quick shot of confidence and put yourself out there. Send out your resume to as many people as will grab onto it and treat it like the Holy Grail. The right one will realize your potential and soon you’ll be drinking mimosas poolside (okay, in a lawn chair while your kids run like crazy minions in the sprinkler, but with a friend nonetheless).
We naturally seek out like-minded people, so find a friend doing the things that you love. If you’re a gym rat, strike up that first very awkward conversation with the person you see every day on the treadmill. If you like to sit and drink coffee, organize a coffee date in your spouse group. Get involved in the PTA or ask your spouse to invite a co-worker and his family over for dinner. Each time you meet someone new, they are getting your friendship resume. Eventually, you’ll get the job.
Here are 3 tips to get you into the friendship making groove:
Recognize the activities you like and find those who like the same. If you like to sew or quilt, find a local group that meets up once a week or join the local intramural team.
Volunteer. Is there a better way to find a friend with a giving spirit than at a volunteering event? Many of these organizations will even let you bring your children. Check out Blue Star Families, they have volunteer opportunities stateside as well as Chapters overseas in Germany, Italy and South Korea!
Start up your own group. If you are a go-getter and you cannot find your desired activity, start your own. You might see a need for local moms to get together to exercise or have a book club. The possibilities are endless and chances are, if you are wanting it, someone else is, too.
The military spouse network in every branch gets smaller and smaller with each year that you are blessed with this life. Military spouses are intelligent, sympathetic, kind, funny, and they make awesome friends. They make the best support networks because we share experiences that are unique and that creates the strong bonds that can last a lifetime.
It can be arduous trying to make new friends and one may even wonder if it’s worth it to try and create friendships when we all just turn around and leave. It is worth it, emotionally and physically. For every ounce of effort you give, it will be returned tenfold.
Tread lightly, and act the way you would like others to act in your presence. Open yourself up for friendships with kindness and your true personality. Because, in fact, that is who your future friends are going to like the best. Besides, you wouldn’t lie on your resume, would you?
Sarah is a Blue Star Families member, a veteran and an Air Force spouse of 10 years. She and her husband have 3 children and are stationed in Germany. Sarah is a registered dietitian and food writer with a background in clinical nutrition, long term acute care, and outpatient counseling for weight loss with a Master’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. You can catch up with Sarah on her blog: www.salubriousrd.com.