This piece comes from Bloom: Empowering the Military Teen, and it is written by military teen Genevieve O. Thank you, Genevieve, for sharing your story! (Photo Credit: Genevieve O.)
I’ve moved eleven times and while I have seen some beautiful, unique, and exciting places, I’ve dealt with some moves that did not lead to a fun duty station. Here are some of the ways I cope with living in a place I kindaaa don’t like that much…
1: Find One Thing You Do Like About it and Truly Explore That
This sounds pretty cliche, but hear me out: when I first moved to Kansas, I reeeeally didn’t like it there. It was too brown and too boring. But, right across my house was this giant open field with hail bails and tall grass. My brother and I had just read The Hunger Games for first time and we thought this field would be the PERFECT place to learn archery, just like Katniss. We spent the rest of the summer running outside and into the field. Soon enough, Kansas slowly got better as we found ways to like it. Now, I’m not saying to run into the street and start aiming a slingshot at cars or throwing ninja stars in a neighborhood full of little kids; try and find something – anything – that makes your duty station a little better. Maybe there’s a super cool music store a short drive away. Or maybe it snows a lot and you just loooove snow! Find your positive and dive into it!
Disclaimer: when I left Kansas two years later, it had become one of my favorite duty stations!
2. Make Your House into a Retreat
If the state, city, or country you are living in isn’t much a comfort for you, make sure your house is overly comforting… or at least your room! Buy a beanbag and cool LEDs to make your room that much better and relaxing retreat. If you miss the beach, make a “beachy” room full of sandy colors and vibrant blues. Maybe buy a sound machine that can play waves? If you are artistic and need that outlet for your emotions, design your room to the extent of your artistic abilities! Paint the walls or purchase chalk board paint! Having a comforting room in which you are “you” in is super important in feeling good at any duty station, but is even more important if your duty station isn’t to your liking.
3. Keep in Touch With “Old” Friends
This one may be a gimme, but keeping in touch with friends from past duty stations is so beneficial to not only your mental health, but also your social health. Moving to anywhere- a good or bad place- means leaving people and that is never easy. But, when you move somewhere that is not to your liking, having your friends to support you is crucial to adjusting and getting into a good mind space! Maybe invite them to come visit?
4. Do Some Research About the Duty Station
There’s an old saying that goes along the lines of “the more you know someone, the harder it is to hate them,” and that is true for duty stations as well! Research the history of where you’re living, famous people from the state, fun facts, and cool things to do around the area. Throughout your research, you may come across something that interests you or draws your attention! Maybe your favorite singer was born just an hour south or the first corn dog was developed there. You never know what you could find!
5. Remember Why You Are Here
At the end of the day, you didn’t choose the military life, it chose you! Being born into a military family means constantly uprooting; but why? Every time you move, your family is in a new position to help not only the country, but the world. The military assigns your family these places to move to for a reason, not just to annoy or stress you out, I promise!
6. (Also) Remember: It’s Temporary!
Remember how pesky it is to constantly pack up and move? Well that may come in handy this time. As a military kid, more times than not, where you live is temporary. The gross, sticky humidity? Temporary. Noisy neighbors? Temporary. Really big, scary school? Temporary. In a matter of years (not always plural) you’ll be out of the situation, so hang in there, kid! You got this!