Moving is one of my favorite parts of the military lifestyle, and I have been able to live in some amazing places. However, not all moves are created equal. With some moves, you go somewhere that you don’t really want to go or you have to leave an amazing community.
This happened to me when I moved from Arizona to Texas. I was part of an amazing mountain bike team (and I was hoping to move to Germany.) If you know anything about Texas, you know that it does not have mountains and it is not Germany. So, it was the opposite of what I wanted. On top of that, our household goods did not come in great shape, and it was extremely hard to make friends. I fell into a pit of despair.
However, an important part of the military lifestyle is learning how to handle a bad move. One thing that I’ve found that helps is deliberately searching for the great parts of where you live and focusing on them. Even becoming a connoisseur of that thing. One way I have applied this is with Texas barbecue. Texas is famous for cowboys, amazing music, and being absolutely gargantuan. However, one thing, in my opinion, trumps all of these and that is Texas barbecue. I became enthralled in this one type of food.
Perspective is an immensely important part of life, and it is especially important in the life of a military teen. It is easy to lose perspective and not have something that connects you to where you live. This technique of finding something you can use as a figurative tether to stay connected to where you live has proven useful to me in many places, not just Texas. For example, my love of mountain biking from Arizona, my love for Seattle sports teams from my time in Washington, my love of crew (rowing) from Virginia (where I currently live), and my love of barbecue, especially Texas barbecue from Texas. While this is not everywhere that I have lived, these are the most significant connections I have.
Another thing that I have found that helps with moves is understanding the culture of where you live. However, this is easier said than done. This is tougher than just finding a single connection to your state because a state’s culture won’t always be uniform throughout. For example, northern Virginia and southern Virginia are completely different when it comes to culture. When you understand that area's culture, it makes your time there much better.
A benefit of finding your location's culture is it can allow you to really feel like you are part of that state, not just a drifter who’s passing through for just two years. It can make your time there much more memorable, and feel like you have somewhere that you can really call a hometown. This connection to culture has made me feel like I can authentically step in the harsh waters of being a Central Texan while also being Northern Virginian.
When you combine these two things, a connection to where you live and its culture, it turns a bad duty station into an okay, or even amazing, one. Moving will always be tough, there’s no getting around that, but with these two techniques it can be so much easier. I hope that these two techniques can help you just as much as they have helped me.