A new duty station that is miles away from the familiar comforts that you’re used to, can feel like the loneliest place in the world. When you PCS, you may have your spouse but where’s that other social necessity. Where are your friends?
It’s not like you’re in grade school anymore where making friends was as easy as sitting next to someone in arts and crafts. You’ll go crazy living as a hermit but putting yourself out there seems absolutely terrifying. When you do meet someone, it’s as if you run an internal diagnostic. Can I trust this person? What do we have in common? Is she going to be all drama?
Just how do you make friends without coming off too desperate (even if you might be)? Here are 7 ways you might find your newest gal pal.
- Online. Facebook groups, meetups, Post in a easygoing voice. “Hi, I’m _____, I just moved here and wanting to get to know more people. I’m 27, 2 kids, I like running… yada, yada, look forward to hearing from you!” Hopefully you’ll get a few comments from people who are or have been in your situation that will respond
- Fitness classes. Even if you’re not that interested in fitness. (exercise is good for you, anyway) Show up a few minutes early to class and make small talk with your fellow students. Stay late and continue the conversation. As you get friendlier, suggest a meetup outside of class. “hey I heard of this great juice bar place, if you wanna try it with me?” Exchange numbers and voila! you have a “friend date”.
- Work/volunteer. the transition from coworker to friend can be tricky. You never know how much you can trust a person who has access to your personal AND professional life. Slowly take the rapport at work to be more personal. “What did you do last weekend?” “Oh you have a son? me too!” Perhaps start off with eating lunch together and see where that leads.
- Your spouse’s coworkers wives/gfs. You all have something in common, so it would seem natural to run in similar circles. Throw a bbq for the big game/event/fight. Free food will always bring people. Make it a potluck to save some money.
- Common interest areas. Playgrounds for mommies with babies. Dog parks for mommies with fur babies. The nail salon, the hair salon, the gym are all great areas for meeting people. you just have to overcome that initial fear of rejection and get yourself out and about. Having a common interest is a great place to start a friendship.
- Expand your horizons. Don’t assume all of your friends have to be exactly like you. Sometimes the best friends aren’t like-minded. Perhaps, an elderly neighbor or a much young acquaintance could become a great friend.
- Joining an organization/team. Sports, FRGs, PTAs, now you are inevitably part of a whole. Maybe some of them won’t become friends but at least you have more acquaintances, and social outings to embark on.
Making friends isn’t always an easy and quick process for everyone. You do HAVE to put yourself out there. Even if it doesn’t always work out, what have you got to lose? The best rewards feel even better by those who put in the greatest effort.
From personal experience, I would say the BEST ADVICE I could give is this: Follow up but don’t follow around. If you have a great initial “friend-date”, follow up with a message on social media or email or text. However, if you find yourself to be the only one reaching out for future “dates”, that does not make for a good friendship foundation. Cut your losses and move on if the other person doesn’t seem as fully vested as you are.
And remember, don’t be so hard on yourself. Making new friends is a new city is hard. Obviously, you’re an amazing person. Friends and connections are out there. Sometime you just have to work a little to find them.
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