When I tell non-military affiliates the number of times I’ve moved, some think it is crazy for my short lifetime. When I tell them I’ve attended seven schools in nine years, they’re shocked. To me, it's normal. What’s so special about seven moves in fourteen years? I’m confident other military teens have more under their belt than I do.
I cannot begin to wrap my mind around the seemingly normal idea of staying in one place my whole childhood. Imagine attending the same district for every year of grade school, waking up in the same bedroom for eighteen years, keeping the same friends from kindergarten through twelfth grade and possibly even in college. For us, those things are almost entirely unheard of!
Our wonderful military moving life allows us to encounter an abundance of situations. Think of all the opportunities to experience something new, to live in amazing places others only visit on vacation, receive broad education exposure, and innumerable more. I would not be who I am without the military brat life.
If we're being honest, staying close to friends would be nice. It can be difficult to make wonderful, loving, impactful friends with the knowledge of being ripped apart in just a few years. Starting over is challenging - there is no better way to put it.
So how exactly do you start over again?
Even if there is a person you already know at your new duty station, they may not always be enough. Sometimes, the relationship works out perfectly! After just a few awkward moments, everything is great and it’s like you were never apart. However, many other times it is not happily-ever-after. People change in just a short time - diverse activities and environments drastically affect opinions and character. Your old friend could turn out to be an entirely new person. Even if you manage to get the relationship up to date, it will be completely different than before.
Through my fourteen years of life, I found there is nothing super special you need to do to make a friend. You don’t need to attend a party with which you aren’t comfortable, or be the smartest or most popular person around. You just need to be who you want to be -- who you are. If you enjoy something, chances are there is someone out there who is the same.
If there is anything I notice about military families, it is how accepting we are. Most of my friends who live off post barely know their neighbors. My on-post neighborhood gets together at the pool each summer month, and every week my street has a Friday night gathering on the driveway. All the kids know each other, and I babysit for the young ones. To the non-military minded, it may seem like our street has been together for years. In reality, only half of us were here last summer. With the constant changing, we naturally accept new concepts, items, and people more readily than those outside our lifestyle.
Usually, military kids are also extremely accepting of a new companion. We all understand what others are going through. My mom always says military friends are like plants, you just add water and make friends.
Additionally, not only are we accepting, we are resilient. Just like our parents, we don’t give up when life gets hard. We learn to adapt and work through the struggle. It is okay to fail before succeeding. Not every friend is equal. Find your fit.
There is no set number of friends, for some it will be many and for others it may be just a single one. What we’re doing today and learning now will help us our whole lives. Making friends is worth every bit of effort we put in.
Overall, I ask two things of you. Be you, and be willing to let others into your life.