It never fails that right as feel really immersed in my community, surrounded by great friends, know all the local hot spots…. my husband comes home and shares that we’re off to the next adventure. It’s time to PCS. Moving brings with it a lot of emotion; excitement about what’s to come and nostalgia about all that you’re leaving behind. Your friends, both military affiliated and not become your family. I mean, you FINALLY have people to put on the Emergency Contact list at the kids school! And just like that, we’re back to the drawing board.
Making new friends is NOT on the top of the list of things that are easily accomplished. Military families are thrust into this situation more than the average person, as they’re moving on average every 3 years. Once you get to the new station, you’re distracted with a heavy TO DO list. Find a house, learn the city, get the kids settled in school. For spouses, there are many little projects that can take up the day to day.
Then, one day… it may be weeks, months, or sometimes even a year or more…but one day you look around and there’s no one. Your spouse is there (maybe, maybe not). But your people, the ones who made your last home feel like a village, that’s gone. You get on Facebook and see your group of friends at your favorite coffee shop, and you’re missing from the group picture. Your last unit is having the Group Social Event, Holiday Party or even -gasp- The Ball; all you can think of is how it’s not the same in this new place. This personal purgatory is crucial… it’s in this moment that you have a choice to make. You can throw a pity party and isolate yourself even more OR you can begin a quest to BUILD YOUR VILLAGE.
Because, let’s face it. You can’t do this military life thing by yourself. It’s impossible. You need friends. You must have people you can depend on. Not only other military spouses, but people from all walks of life who get YOU. Who likes the same things you like. Who like to go the same places you like, and even introduce you to some new places. People who love you, your family, support you and are willing to push you into places that might be a little uncomfortable but are meant to stretch and grow you. That’s why this is more than just finding new friends. It truly takes a village to be comfortable, to find your place and be happy in a new PCS. There is no village to small, or too big. It’s only important that you have one.
But you have to find it, build it even. You can’t do that by sitting in your house wishing for new friends. Consider all the things you actually like to do and places where you’ll spend a lot of time. Places like your children’s school. Volunteering at the school will put you in the same vicinity of the parents with similar aged kids. If you don’t have children yet, or they’re not school aged… it’s time to take a walk around the block! While you’re at it, invite your neighbors over for what I like to call a “Scoop Party”. Let them know you’re new in town. You want to have them over for ice cream, and they can give you the scoop on the best coffee shops, boutiques, salons and local eateries.
One of the best decisions I’ve made was joining the PWOC on post. It’s a women’s bible study and I’ve met some of my best friends by being a part of this group at our last duty station. If you want to connect with other Christian women, from any denomination, this is a great place to start. My youngest son has a weekly appointment that conflicts with our PWOC here on Bragg, otherwise I’d SO be there.
An idea to get your spouse involved is hosting a BBQ for the couples in the new unit. The guys can bond and hopefully, you will with some of the women! One of the best things my husband and I hosted was a Couples Game Night. Let’s just say some great relationships were forged that night, plus you have a chance to REALLY see everyone’s personalities.
My last secret weapon? Check out your local area on meetup.com. You can find groups for EVERYTHING from running, pet lovers, book clubs, yoga classes, play groups and more.
Try out something new each week, and before you know it… you’ve met and connected with people from different groups, you’ve gotten to know your new city; and you’ve built this amazing village of people. They each have a role and purpose and YOU have a role and purpose for them, as well. This village won’t replace your older friends, how much fun you had a your last duty station…. but they will become main characters in this new chapter of life. It’s hard putting yourself out there, but if nothing else, as military spouses we learn to BLOOM where we are planted.
Until we’re transported to the next place. And you’ll bloom there too! If you ever find yourself at Fort Bragg, NC– feel free to drop me a line. I’m always looking for new people to be a part of my village, and to be a part of theirs. I have lots of places left to explore here, we might as well do it together!