Not every military spouse is a social butterfly waiting to bring you into her inner circle with a basket full of cupcakes and a bottle of wine. Also, not every new spouse in the neighborhood is outgoing, excited to be in the area, and ready to put on her best smile and meet what will probably be her support system for the next three years or so. For those who suffer from any kind of trepidation about new places and new people, the final stages of a PCS move can be anxiety-ridden and result in a period of loneliness. It doesn’t have to be that way regardless of how shy you are, how much you miss your old friends and life, or how much you have dreaded this particular move. Trust me, even if you have ended up somewhere you absolutely hated the thought of going to, spending the next few years miserable and locked up in your house only hurts you and your family. Regardless of the circumstances, it is ultimately up to you to be happy and make the most of each and every new opportunity to be in a new place and meet new people.
One tool to make the entire process easier and make lasting connections is social media. Get online and check out the pages and links to places and groups nearest you. One great Facebook page to follow before you even PCS is Moving House for the Military Spouse. Aside from reaching out and getting basic information about a particular post or base, users who are already stationed where you are headed constantly chime in with tips and advice on schools, neighborhoods, best places to eat and shop, the truth about housing, and anything else you can imagine. This is a great starting point to reach out and basically say, “Hey, I’ll be there in a month. What can I expect?” Some of the users will ask you to message them and this could very well spark a friendship or at least a connection in the area. Virtually each base or post has a Facebook page for you to check out. Social media is also a godsend for keeping up with your old connections in an instant; which will go a long way in keeping you engaged in the world and from feeling lonely.
Every base and post has a family readiness group or spousal support center. While you may have not felt the need to utilize these resources in the past, they really can help you from day one. Not every spouse group is the same, so don’t hesitate if your previous experiences with new spouse groups were negative or pointless. Remember, this a new place filled with new faces. Don’t be quick to let your past negative experiences with spouse groups prevent you from giving others a try. Check out events, meetings, volunteer opportunities, or social outings with these groups. Whether it is a social coffee, a holiday shopping trip, a chance to volunteer to take meals to another spouse with medical issues, or just a play group for other spouses with kids, give it chance.
You can find a community center or arts and crafts center on each base or post also. While you may have a preconceived idea of “arts and crafts”, there are lots of activities available. Today, you can find music lessons, dance classes, and many other classes, seminars, or events to attend and find others who share your interests. The community center can give you information about all sorts of groups looking for volunteers, spouse outings, and family events.
While no one “loves” to work out, well almost no one, heading to the base or post gym during school hours can be a great way to meet other stay at home moms or others with kids the same ages as yours. Most gyms now have childcare areas and you can bring the little ones with you, giving you more chances to meet other parents in your age group. Each gym typically offers free or extremely cheap classes ranging from spinning, yoga, Zumba, self defense, swimming, or aerobics. You can also find information about intramural sports teams. Just asking if there are any teams needing one or two more players can open the door putting you back on the court or in the field playing a sport you’ve always loved.
Once you get settled and browse through the base directory, fan pages on Facebook, or the base paper, you should be armed with a number of opportunities to choose from. While some may be events or groups you may only go to once or twice, others might open the door to new hobbies, new interests, a renewal of something you used to love to do, and they all will open the door to meeting new people and becoming involved in your new community.
Guest Post By Karri L. Moser, Freelance Writer (<—visit her site!) and Military Wife.