When we found out that we were relocating I think like every other military family our first concern was where would we live, would our stuff make it to our new base in one piece, would my children make new friends easily, and how are we going to find good schools for our children? After that I never really gave anything else much thought.
It was not until I was reading out local Spouses Group that I started to think about friendships in the military and how they come about. One of the spouses in the group commented that she was having such a hard time making friends here. My first thought was why? Falling into life here in Alabama seemed so easy to me. Making new friends seemed so simple. Everyone here seemed so nice, how was it possible that I had only been here three weeks and met so many people and yet someone else was having such a difficult time?
Once we found out that we were moving I dove head first into our soon to be new life. Not only did I start researching the area, but I joined a local spouses group so that I could ask all kinds of questions about the area. This also gave me the opportunity to get the feel for those that were living at my new base and receive information about the area. What I found was wonderful. Everyone on the group was very helpful and would answer all of my questions even if they had been asked 100 times before by others.
I had been on the group for a while before we arrived so our new base no longer seemed scary because of the unknown. I knew that I had been chatting with these women so long that I could get to our new base and immediately have new friends.
My first week here I was alone with my 4 youngest children. My husband was back in Tennessee finishing up the work on our house to get renters in. I spent my days unpacking and taking my kids to the pool. If my children were playing with other children I would start conversations with their parents.
As luck would have it, one of my new neighbors was also on that local group. I knew coming here that if I needed anything when I first got here that I could walk over and ask without feeling like I was approaching a complete and total stranger. While she was so far only a name and a profile photo before I arrived, that name and photo were also familiar so it made things much easier. And for the record she is no longer just a name behind the computer screen. She walked over and introduced herself shortly after we arrived.
A week after arriving I met my first non neighbor. I made sure to get the kids involved in activities as soon as we got here and I was able to meet one of the girls from the group at swim lessons. Two weeks later we were meeting for coffee and heading to a playgroup together. How was it possible for someone to have such difficulty making new friends at a place that I found so easy? I think it is because I have adapted to military life. I have been a spouse for so long that I know that you have to jump right in feet first.
My advice? Get out there. Get involved. If you have children, join local playgroups,the PTA, make trips to the park, get your children enrolled in activities. If you do not have children, join a local spouses group and attend coffee meet ups. Get out of the house! Friends are not just going to show up your door. You have to get out there. You can make friends. You will make friends. You just need to be open to meeting other people and you must be willing to get out that door.