Joining the Military right out of high school was…an interesting experience.
A lonely experience.
I went from being surrounded by my best friends that I had known since being a toddler, my family, and the familiar town that I grew up in, to being thrust into this small room with about 30 women from all different states, communities, and cultural backgrounds.
To say none of us understood each other would be an understatement. Few of us were even interested in making friends. We just wanted to get through what we had to and move on.
Being in that environment was the loneliest experience I have ever had.
I have always been an outgoing person, someone who could generally find a friend in just about anyone. (Not the safest trait to have, I know). But I love being surrounded by people and loving them. And to have that taken away was a shock.
But this was just the beginning, my first taste of loneliness in my new, military way of life. The constant moving cities, states, and countries. And every time I would finally start to, “settle” and make a new friend or two, it was time to go again.
Once I went to Japan, I was completely lost on how to make a friend. I was in a man’s field of work, and to find a woman in my job was, rare. Now let’s say we find that rare women at work, what are the odds that we would even like each other and want to be friends? Pretty slim.
I would say my entire military career; my husband was probably my only friend. No, he was my only friend.
It wasn’t until I got out of the military that I had the opportunity to make some girlfriends, but where was I to even start? I was in a foreign country, living off base amongst nothing but Japanese neighbors, and I didn’t speak any Japanese…I didn’t have a job, I had a new baby, I had no family, and Tom worked long hours. I was alone, again, and longed adult conversation.
I ended up making friends in Okinawa just in time before either they all left, or I left. Knowing we were all moving on to different parts of the country or even another country and would very likely never see each other again has been a feeling I have had to get used to…
And here I am again. In NC, starting over from scratch. Thankfully I have some in-laws a few hours away, still not the family I am used to, but family nonetheless…I had not one friend here when I moved here. But 1 year later, I can confidently say I have made 4 great friends, the kind you want to keep around for sure.
I would say I have had a lot of opportunities to learn how to put myself out there to make friends. I have moved 6 times in the last 5 years…
Whether you are living that military lifestyle, moving to go to college, or just moving away to start a new life, having people you can count on, people who understand you, and that you can talk to about anything with is crucial.
For me, I just wanted friends who liked deep conversations, drinking wine while talking shit, watch sad movies and cry with me, have sleepovers, go to the movies in our Pj’s, random lunch dates, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. You know, just good friends that you could do a whole bunch of nothing with.
1. Get a job
This is the best way to meet people from the area and make some friends! This is how I have made all my friends every time I have moved as an adult. Starting a new job can be intimidating. Especially when most places of work, it’s usually clear who is in what, “clique.” Make sure that you associate yourself with the right people. Be yourself and you will attract your people. Even if you’re a stay at home mom, I would always suggest getting a part time-ish job, even if it’s just in the beginning. It is hard enough being a stay at home mom, let alone if you’re in a new state or country and have no friends. Take care of yourself, that includes your mental health.
2. Put yourself out there
This could be anything from, starting a blog, going to a movie by yourself, going shopping alone, local events, volunteer, join a book club (if you like to read…not me lol). You would be surprised how many people you could meet just going and doing things that you like doing. Just don’t be scared to go alone (you’re already alone, can’t get any worse…I am cracking myself up lol)!
3. Keep in touch with your family and friends from home
This got me through so many tough days. Even though I was on an opposite time schedule than my friends and family, skyping them and calling them frequently helped with the loneliness. It also helped me maintain my friendships for all those years without seeing them.
I call my mom basically every day! Love you loca!
4. Find a new hobby
This is THE perfect time to be selfish and take all this time to learn something new. When it was just me, I dabbled in so many things, web design, photography, blogging (the only thing that really stuck), fitness (did not stick at all), drawing (the worst ever), binge-watching Netflix (could be considered a hobby…) This will not only help pass the time but what if you end up being crazy good at one of these and enjoy it? Now you have just found something you love to do and have joined a community of people who love doing that as well. There is a Facebook group for just about every hobby these days, find it and do a meetup!
You have to be open and patient with this process, and always remember to be yourself! It is so easy to just conform to the people around you to fit in, but you will never make true, good, forever friends that way.
Also, remember to be thankful. Whether this change is by choice or force, not many people have the opportunity to experience these life changes. Enjoy it, make the most of it, because it won’t last forever.