Making friends has never been a challenge for me. Among my siblings, they call me the "outgoing one who always ends up with a new friend." So why should now — after transitioning back to civilian life — be any different?
Well, it's been 13 months since my husband retired and we relocated back to our hometown. I am still struggling to make connections. Most of my previous friends have moved away, but that's not the main issue. It's finding people who share commonalities and a similar lifestyle.
The military community gave me that!
There's a pattern to moving to a new duty station. First you sulk a bit because of the friends you left behind. Next you get your goods and do your best to make your new living space feel like home. Then you find out about the surrounding areas and activities nearby. Finally, you find someone awesome who you can join up with to explore those activities. You find your person(s).
Now I'm back home. But I have NO pattern to follow.
(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez)
Returning home does have many other benefits. Home means Florida sunshine, frequent gatherings with our extended family, reuniting with homegrown friendships, and putting down new roots. It means settling…finally!
But something is definitely missing, and it's a sense of belonging.
Being a military spouse put us in the trenches together. Basically saying, "My husband is working and I'm lonely. Be my friend!" Now my conversations are more like,
"Babe, I have NO FRIENDS! Everybody is busy and has their regularly scheduled programs to attend. I miss my military home girls," (Insert sad face and whiny voice).
I want fuzzy socks and belly laughs! Don't we all deserve that?
For some people, having a j-o-b fixes the need to belong. For others, they are lucky enough to find friends who are in a similar phase of life. And some people are introverts who ache at the thought of having to put themselves out there…again.
(Photo by Ben Duchac)
No matter what I've done so far, no one has hit the sweet friendship spot! I've chatted with neighbors, joined a church, gone on lunch dates, collaborated with other women in my field of expertise, but NADA!
One thing I WILL NOT do, is force a friendship. If it clicks, then go with it. If not, it was nice to meet you, bye.
I have decided to take my time and focus on my family while making our new life cozy. My husband and I work together on establishing our business, and I'm adjusting and getting better at being me, minus the constant life interruption that comes with uprooting over and over again.
So, yea…I've flipped it to see the glowing opportunity while knowing that I will find my person one day. OR, one of my military persons will retire to my hometown (HAPPY DANCE).
This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.