When you join the military, you are given an unexpected treat. An instant friendship with those around you. You have people who you instantly connect with and the only common denominator is that you are serving in the military.
Maybe they won’t be your best friend and you may not even end up liking each other, but in the lonely time when you just move to a new assignment you have a gift. You have an instant friendship with at least one, but probably more than one person.
As a new Lieutenant arriving at my new base. I was starting to learn the lay of the land and must have been there long enough to have an email account, but not long enough to be looking for a friend.
Will You Be My Friend?
I get an email from another female Lieutenant. I think the subject was “will you be my friend.” She found my name in an email that had gone out to a few other young officers. She said I was the only name she knew for sure was a girl. She was desperate for a girlfriend. And since I was a girl and, in the military, I decided I might as well email back to meet her.
Our friendship still continues on to this day. Even with time and space between us. We still call each other friends.
But what she did took a lot of guts. And I always think how different life would have been had she not decided to reach out. How different would your life be if just one person didn’t have the guts to reach out and say hello?
It was as if I didn’t even experience the first real hard part of being a female in the military. I was given a special gift. An instant friend. All I knew was she was a female serving in the military and it was enough to trust her and take a risk to let her in.
Military Comradery: Instant Friendship
Another situation that showed me the immediate comradery from military life was when I was interviewed for an experiment that put two people who were strangers together. It was a little awkward at first and then with one of the questions everything changed. I’m not sure who shared the fact that they had served. But once that nugget of information was out in the open we could talk and talk for days. We were different in political beliefs, ethnicity, race, gender. But we shared one thing in common: our military service. We instantly connected and were able to listen to each other.
Instant connections. Instant Friendship.
It is pretty neat that instant connections are given to you through military service. But they don’t happen as often anymore. Now that I am no longer in the service it is hard to find those connections. Finding a female military veteran is quiet the rarity.
And I don’t relate to those who are still in the service. Most who cross my path are male. And the females I have met are wonderful to talk to but are either way younger than me or busy moms who also work a full-time job. We both have admiration for what the other one is doing, but our lives just don’t intersect.
It isn’t all bad news
But all hope isn’t lost. I actually have been able to find great friends. I still sometimes feel like an outsider who doesn’t quite fit in. But I have to admit that even when I was in I still felt that way sometimes.
But finding these new friends was not the same as all the past assignments. I found my friends through a new club I had joined. It’s name being motherhood. And there was plenty of loneliness in this journey. I followed my husband across the country and moved to a new place not knowing anyone. I had one friend from a past assignment, but she lived pretty far away.
What I learned in this new phase is.
And these new friends I have found have taught me so much about doing life together instead of all alone. They taught me to show my vulnerabilities and reach out for help. When I thought I could do it all they were cheering me on. And when I thought I couldn’t take one more step forward they were there to pick me up.
The friends I made here took a lot of work and a little bit of luck. And I guess that is why they are so special. Instant friends are great. They make it easy to make connections when you move to a new place. But when they are given to you, you don’t know how important they are. This assignment has taught me how hard work and giving of yourself is worth it.
I used to think I was lucky to have instant friendship, but maybe now I’m the lucky one because I get to do it all over again. Make new friends and create new memories while still holding on to the friendships I’m leaving behind.