Why I love to have friends outside the military
If our military lifestyle has showed me anything is to always be able to be open to exploring. Whether it is around our new area, whether it is taking on a new hobby and yes even making friends. I have developed a sense of adventure when it comes to all things including stepping out of my comfort zone to make long lasting friendships outside our military circle and to be honest, I love it.
Let me start by saying that I am an extrovert with introvert tendencies. Yes, I love a fun time out but also the thought of being home cuddled on the couch with just our family makes me happy. Enjoying a night out with friends but also knowing that I truly enjoy my quiet time and not seeing people from time to time is my jam. When we PCS’d to Hawaii even though I was not new to the military life, I was a newbie to military spouse life. I knew all the resources; I knew everything there was to know about the military but it was tough making friends within military circles because they all had their close clicks already and seemed like no one liked change. So, in hopes to make new friends but also explore the island I decided to create Momma Tribe on Oahu and instead of making it a military-only group with questions like: “What branch do you associate with?”, the group welcomed every mom military related or not. It was the perfect melting pot of backgrounds all striving to be the best parent they could be in a safe environment for everyone.
Through this group my understanding and knowledge of the local community grew and my heart knew that in order to be happy at our new duty station making friends from all over was going to be the key to a successful assignment; not only for me but our children. Military lifestyle has a lot of good-byes but finding local friendships that would be willing to learn about our life and also be ok with creating meaningful friendships was a huge plus and something I am truly thankful for. In a place like Hawaii were the military gets a lot of bad rep, the mom community was very welcoming and understanding when it came to our lifestyle. It was a great way to start difficult conversations, learn about the culture, history and truly make friends who came from very opposite backgrounds. These are the types of relationships I wanted to cultivate.
Finding friendships that are outside the military expand your perspectives on what is going on in your community and yes, I believe that when you arrive to a new duty station your community is the area you live in but not just on the installation or on-base housing.
At times you think that you can get along with others due to the military life status however sharing deeper friendships with someone in my opinion goes further than that. I have met many military spouses yet only have so much in common with a few of them. Not everyone’s military life is the same, not everyone goes through the same struggles, not everyone will be as resilient as you and not everyone will be as open minded to explore each duty station and even though that is ok it was not what I wanted in a friendship. I knew there was more to a duty station thatn just what was on base and I wanted to find that.
I made friends, was open about our lifestyle as they were open to share about theirs, we agreed, disagreed, explored, raised babies, supported each other but most of all respected each other’s backgrounds and commitments to our families. These friendships help you grow.
Making friends outside the military community shows you more of the world around you and helps you realize that you should care about your local community as well. As military families we are being hosted at each duty station, we should aim to be a member of the community who gives back and is willing to learn. There is more than what we see being surrounded my military spouses, unfortunately at times that helps us stay sheltered and gives us a false sense of safety but I believe that creating relationships outside our lifestyle can make you stronger and help you tackle wherever the military sends you. You can find friends through local groups, find mom friends at the park or schools, join a local running group, volunteering…being brave to say hello to someone new or take the step towards a new friendship is scary but very rewarding. And guess what? You can start those groups, just as I started mine.
Sometimes you need to be open to see what is outside your world. Escape your bubble and fears for a bit and try something new. Learn about someone that share a different lifestyle and has no idea what your military life is like. Be accepting, be open and be courageous to step out of your comfort zone. Yes, you are allowed to have military friends but why not have all sorts of friendships? Why not enjoy all the possibilities. Now, as we tackle a new duty station, I did not waste time, I joined groups and reached out to parents outside our lifestyle and I am so happy I did. We have been able to do so much and meet amazing people in such a short time here. I love making friendships, and I love to have friends outside the military.