Making friends is never easy. I think we’ve all had a new kid at school, or been the new kid in new school, and I think moving to a new place is a bit like that!
I went to school with a lot of the same people from kindergarten through high school. While there were new additions of friends, and others moved away or we grew apart, it was fairly insular for me. College was eye-awakening. Moving across the country I hardly knew anyone in NYC. I was lucky to have some of the most amazing people live on the same floor of my dorm as me, in fact some of those people are still my best friends. As I went through college I made some friends in classes and clubs. There were friends from internships and jobs. These were people that I knew and introduced my husband to, we had his friends from school too, and some were in Arizona with us, but Washington was a bit different.
We knew some people from Washington who gave us some tips on where to live, but for the first month we were here we knew one person in Seattle, an hour drive away. We met an awkward neighbor, but that was it. My husband took time off when we moved up here (to settle in and see family for the holidays), so when he started working we met more people and started hanging out with them. And I made friends with my co-workers at my new job.
Then like I heard a million times in college: I started to get involved. I became a POC in the FRG (see glossary), went to the Spouses’ Club events (and joined the board), and started saying yes to a lot of events through people I met there, like watching a baseball game or going to the Farmers’ Market. Facebook was a great resource and I friended a lot of people I met pretty soon after I met them. Yes, that was a bit shameless I know but it really was how this group of women I met were communicating, not via email or text, and it really helped me have a social life of my own.
So I would say that making friends in the military is really like making friends in any other aspect of life: you find the people that you click with and hang out. But you have to make that effort. You really do. But even if you don’t become really close to everyone you meet, you won’t I promise, still be nice. The Army world is small and as a friend of mine pointed out: you are bound to come across them at another post at some point in the future.
Another important aspect of friendship: maintaining those ties. I have a weekly phone date with one friend in New York. I gchat with others frequently, and just make sure to see them whenever I am home or in New York. It’s tough but just like making friends, keeping them takes work too. And that goes with friends in the same town as you: make sure you invite them to dinner, or coffee, or whatever, if you don’t hang out it’s hard to stay friends.
I will say that my friendships with my friends here at JBLM have helped me love Washington and get through the next post’s topic: deployment.
What are your tips for making friends? Any suggestions for maintaining long-distance friendships?