Let’s be honest, nearly every single military wife has been through it: moving to a new location where you know absolutely no one. My first move to a military base was no different. We stayed in a small hotel room on base for an entire month, right after we got married until base housing became available. In that month, I hid behind the heavy hotel room curtains, afraid to go out and meet new people. It was utterly depressing.
Once we were able to move into an actual home (and after having almost no human contact with anyone other than my husband for a month) I decided it was time to venture into the outside world. The first person I introduced myself to was my neighbor. Our houses were attached by a carport and I began the usual small talk with her. As time progressed, I found out that we actually had very little in common with each other. We discovered that we were both Marine Corps spouses, new to the base and both of us needed a friend.
My new neighbor had a little boy and he helped her break the ice with a lot of people. Before long, she was swimming in a pool of friends and acquaintances and I jumped right in with her. My neighbor and I would go out to lunch and she’d bump into someone she knew. I’d be introduced and voila: my social network just grew. It was Facebook set into action, my friends!
It took some time, but not a day went by where I didn’t have to spend a day alone on base if I didn’t want to. I discovered there was always someone to confide in, someone to support and someone to simply hang out with.
Once my husband and I had a child of our own, my pool of friends rapidly turned into an ocean. Having a child gave me one more thing in common with the women I shared my military lifestyle with. We could always count on a play date at the park, story time at the base community center or a stroller class out and about to stretch the muscles of my social skills.
I threw my inhibitions regarding the unknown area and new people out the window and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. During those first few years of our marriage, I made quite a few acquaintances and some very close friends. I am thankful for all of them. The military lifestyle requires all of us to pack up and move eventually. I said goodbye to lots of friends; some which were much harder than others. I don’t keep in touch with all of the people I met, but there are a few that will remain in my life forever, no matter how far apart.
If I could give a military spouse one piece of advice, it would be to embrace your military family. Sure it’s nice to know someone to care for your kids when you have a doctor’s appointment… or offer their help when your spouse is deployed and your car malfunctions, but more importantly, that military family will be right there with you through the good times and the bad. They will be your shoulder to cry on, your go-to advice panel, your comedic relief, your sounding board and your best friends.
So, wherever the Marine Corps takes you, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to a few people, bake some cookies for your new neighbors, get up one morning and take the little one to that play date and remember to make a few friends. Even just a few friends can make the difference between truly living on the Marine Corps base and simply being stationed there.