However, I’m not happy until I have friends – not Facebook friends or over the phone friends. I need face to face, let’s go to coffee, come to my home, glass of white or red type of friends.
I like to conduct controlled experiments with a well thought out hypothesis. I’m ready for this friendship petri dish and have armed myself with a few tips and tricks for making new friends that I’ve picked up over the years.
I’m sharing these ideas because I understand more than most how lonely an assignment can be without a support network, especially if you have children. It messes with your head – you doubt yourself, you smile less and you go inside yourself – by that I mean you wall yourself off from people – it’s a defense mechanism.
You can’t live like that. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, this life is just flat out lonely without people you can lean on, call on a whim, share a glass of wine with or just share in a contagious episode of belly laughing.
Get out your lab coat and bling laden eye protection and let’s test out crazy friendship chemistry experiment by finding those hidden friends out there that will make your new assignment worth it.
Experiment #1 – Deliver a watermelon! (or food of choice to your neighbors.) I’ve always PCS’d during the summer, so watermelon is always in season. My kids and I purchase half a dozen watermelons and a black sharpie. I write my family’s first names, phone number and email address on the watermelon with the black sharpie and deliver them to my neighbors – especially houses I’ve spotted children in. I send a note that just says “hello, I’m your neighbor” with the watermelon. By the way, this works in TLF living too. Every assignment I’ve done this has netted me about five new friends. This is a no brainer for finding those cool neighbors.
Experiment #2 – Volunteer your time, whether you have the time or not. This is crucial, I call it the PCS Tax – you have to pay up front with your time and energy in order to meet the kind of friends you need.
If you have school age kids, ask to join the PTO/PTA asap. Take over an event that the school hosts or sign up right way to bake cookies or help in the classroom. I just left a PTO board where 80% of the board were military spouses – the school was not on base either. The parents were just like me, trying to get involved and meet other people with similar interest. Also, volunteer to coach or team parent your children’s sport or activity. It’s a great way to get to know other parents.
If connecting through children won’t work, then head straight to base/post for volunteering. Join the Officer Spouse Club or Enlisted Spouse Club and attend everything! It may not be your thing for the long term, but for a newly PCS’d spouse, this is where you will find your initial social group. OSC’s and ESC’s are amazing groups of spouses just like you.