6 Ways to Find Your MilSpouse Tribe After PCS
Taking a new job. Moving to a new city. Starting over.
After several years of military life, our PCS process should be a routine. Yet, one of the biggest hurdles for me after a move is finding a new circle of friends. Even if an assignment is short-lived, I understand the importance of making connections. Time and again, the people I’ll meet will shine a positive light on each place we live.
If you've recently made a military move, try these ideas for reaching out and finding your "tribe."
1) Friends of Friends
Many buddies in my current tribe are military spouses who understand what it’s like to move around the country. These pals inspire me by building a social circle wherever they land. For example, when our family was moving to Washington D.C., my friend Sara in Washington State gave me the name of her Capitol Hill friend, Heather. Meeting a friend of my friend gave me a notion of reassurance that this busy new city wasn’t entirely impersonal.
Pros: It was fun to meet up with my friend Sara’s cohort, Heather. By reaching out to one of her acquaintances, I got the inside scoop on amenities around the city.
Cons: Honestly, other than our connection to Sara, Heather and I didn’t have much in common. However, it’s simply nice to meet a friendly person without the expectation of becoming BFF’s.
2) Facebook Groups
Beyond playing FarmVille and posting birthday wishes, the social media platform is a handy resource for online social groups. While anticipating our current assignment, I was searching online for every military spouse Facebook group in the tri-city area. Reading through the chatter on the community posts, I found the low-down on which neighborhoods would fit our house hunt. After moving in, I turned my focus towards local forums that fit my hobbies. From running to remodeling, there’s a Facebook group for everything!
Pros: It’s extremely easy to use the platform to join groups that fit my interest. Also, members of the forums in my city offer solid answers when I ask about local resources.
Cons: Maybe it’s due to the anonymity of an online presence? I’m noticing a friendly Facebook group member may be happy to share helpful hints online, but hesitant to build an in-person friendship.
3) Meetup Groups
Similar to an online Facebook group, you can easily search for hobbies or interests on the Meetup social media website. Upon joining a group, the Meetup leader shares social plans for its members. For instance, when the local outdoor gear store hosts an excursion, I could attend with the Meetup group of hiking enthusiasts.
Pros: I’ve found “meeting up” with local groups is the motivation I need to leave the comforts of my home!
Cons: At times, the plans for a Meetup activity can lack organization. But I’ll keep in mind the leader of the group is simply serving as a volunteer.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Ghandi
Tossing a ball of string or playing a round of fetch, I am gradually meeting new people by volunteering at a local animal rescue. Although my focus is on tending to homeless kitties and rescued doggies, I consider this experience a social opportunity.
Pros: No matter if it’s a big effort or a small moment, volunteering can offer heartwarming rewards.
Cons: Not every community service task is fun! It's a good idea to balance my expectations when I sign up for a volunteer project.
5) Break the Ice with Pets
With his shiny coat and friendly swagger, our dog has a healthy ego! Simply strolling up to anyone willing to pat him on the head, our pooch will recruit people to be his next best friend. All kidding aside, thanks to outings with our dog, we regularly meet pleasant people. Having a pet can ease introductions that might otherwise be awkward.
As for cat lovers, I’ve heard there's a growing trend of feline-friendly coffeehouses. If a cat fancier prefers not to bring their kitty along for a latte, they could simply meet other fans of felines and share tales.
Pros: Finding a dog-friendly green space nearby offers exercise and socialization for our pooch and for myself.
Cons: Sometimes it’s a challenge to engage in genuine conversation with fellow pet owners due to the need to track the whereabouts of our furry friends.
6) Join a Club
Let’s get real--meeting new people can be frightening. At those self-guarded moments, I just want to stay inside, sip my coffee, pet my dog and write in my journal! But it’s times like that when I realize I need to be more of a “joiner."
For example, I could join a military spouses' club. Filled with fellow members walking a similar path, these marvelous milspouses know what it’s like to face an unexpected deployment or to lose sentimental items in a move. It’s almost like we share a survivor mentality!
Pros: Becoming a member of an organization, like a military spouses' club, can lead to exciting social activities.
Cons: When I don’t know a familiar face in the crowd, it's tricky to take the leap and attend a club event.
It can be a challenge to come up with a new tribe after a military move. Much like grabbing groceries at the commissary on payday, it takes a strong sense of courage! When you PCS in and need to find a new friend, try these tactics. The support that a friend can share is helpful in this ever-changing military lifestyle.