The Lone Wolf
Let me tell you, there is a reason wolves travel in packs. You do not want to be a lone wolf in this military life. This unpredictable lifestyle has many ups and downs and it’s so much easier when you have friends to help you through it all. Living a thousand miles away from family can be overwhelming, especially for new military spouses. When you add in being a new mom, to a new duty station, the stress can seem insurmountable. I can attest for how lonely it can feel, because that was me, and still is me, at our current duty station. Loneliness is a feeling many military wives feel from time to time but it is important to remember that we are literally not the only ones going through this or feeling this way. There is someone currently going through or has gone through your situation, in the past. I hope these tips can help you in some way. You are not alone!
#1 You Will Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
What?! You mean I have to introduce myself to strangers and act interested in their lives?! Haha, yes! This is the first step to meeting new people. If you stay at home and sulk on the couch (I’ve done this before), nothing is going to change! It may be a little overwhelming if you’re not naturally an extrovert, but it will be okay, I promise! I don’t consider myself an extrovert but this military life requires us to go out of our comfort zone on so many levels, so I know you can do it! Making new friends is as easy as talking to people. I don’t care where it is, the gym, an FRG event, the gas station (well, maybe that’s a little too far), introduce yourself!
When we were stationed in Texas, I met one of my closest friends at a nail salon. We just struck up a conversation and found we had a lot in common. Give people a chance! In today’s culture, (at least for Americans) I notice, we are so self-absorbed and don’t want to be bothered by others. Well, that attitude won’t get you far in this lifestyle! You will be surprised that most often than not, you will have something in common with whom you are talking. If you don’t connect with the person you’re talking with, that’s okay! You are not going to become best friends with everyone you meet but you will never know until you take the first step. I joke with my military spouse friends, making new friends in this lifestyle is like dating. You make the first move, talk, maybe plan a date (coffee or playgroup) and see what happens!
#2 Don’t Rely on Your Spouse
God love my husband, but he is so terrible at remembering to introduce me to people. It’s true, a lot of times, we meet people through our spouses and their work functions, but you can’t rely on them to make friends for you. You have to take the initiative. If you’re at an event, it is very likely there are a lot of people in your same situation. See someone sitting down by themselves? Go say hi! What’s the worst that could happen? You might not hit it off and never talk to them again, big deal (I told you, it’s like dating!). Just be yourself and you can’t go wrong!
When we moved to New York (current duty station), my husband was working and gone for training all the time. In situations like this, it’s more important than ever not to rely on your spouse. If the FRG has events, go! Unfortunately, the FRG we were in didn’t have events during the day and I wasn’t about to sacrifice my newborn’s nap or bedtime, so I had to find other ways to meet people.
#3 Go to FRG Events!
Yes, I said it (cue the eye rolls)! Guys, FRGs (Family Readiness Groups) get a bad reputation! I know we all just love those mandatory family fun days, right? However, it is a great way to meet new people! Go to some events, check it out, and see if you like it. FRGs can be really great if run well and I pray that yours’ is amazing. They do so much for families and make a significant impact on the morale of servicemen and their families. The worst thing that could happen is you don’t like it and never go again. I guarantee you, you will meet someone there that will become your next best friend!
#4 Join a Group/Volunteer
Whether it’s a gym, the FRG, book club, athletic league, basket weavers anonymous, there is a group for every personality out there. Write down the activities you like to do, go on the internet and search for groups or businesses that offer activities you enjoy. Facebook is a gold mine for finding like-minded groups! Before going to your next duty station, look up spouses clubs in the area and find some connections. Ya’ll, I found my now bestie by posting a “Hey, I’m new and need friends” type post on a local wives page. You gotta’ do what you gotta’ do!
#5 Be Yourself
Most importantly, be unique. Don’t feel like you have to be a certain type of military spouse to fit into this life. We are not all the same, although I’m pretty sure the outside world sees us all as cookie baking, stay-at-home mom, church volunteering, FRG leading, iron’s the spouses uniform every day, perfect minions. It’s either that or the sit on the couch, spends all their spouses’ money, dependas. It’s never an in between, am I right? Haha! We are all different. Be who you are and you will attract like-minded individuals! (By the way, I am a stay-at-home mom and sometimes like to bake cookies, so there’s no shame in that).
Be yourself and be positive! I know this life is tough, ya’ll, but it’s so much easier with friends who understand what you’re going through! I hope this can help you in some way, if not, just a reminder. I know it’s easier said than done, trust me. Like I said, I moved to New York with a two-week old and my husband was gone all the time for training. My FRG wasn’t the most family friendly at the time, so I am still trying to find ways to meet new people. It is getting better, especially as my child grows older and I have high hopes for my next FRG. I joined a gym and introduced myself to my neighbors. So if I can do it, you can do it! Take the initiative and be yourself! Do you have any other tips for making friends at a new base? I’d love to hear them!