I remember the first time I moved away from home. I was twenty-one and had just started my “grown up” job. Everything I owned fit inside of my blue Honda Civic: a twin-sized air mattress, clothes, my laptop, and a folding chair. I unpacked my meager belongings on the first weekend and planned to spend my second weekend establishing a home. I drove an hour to Ikea to purchase furniture. The grand plan was to return with my fresh merchandise, assemble it all into recognizable furniture and décor, and then post my success on Facebook. I was going to show the world that I could take care of myself.
Establishing a home was more work than I initially perceived. The boxes were too heavy for me to carry to my car, let alone my second floor apartment. I did not want to ask any of my new co-workers or neighbors to help me because I did not want them to think I was weak or annoying. I was supposed to be able to do everything by myself. That was what being an ‘independent adult’ meant to me at the time: self-sufficiency.
Ask for Help
While self-sufficiency has its merits, a great lesson I have learned through multiple military moves is that I should not avoid seeking assistance. Realizing you need help and asking for it is a sign of strength, not weakness. You are not less independent when you seek help, you are simply more efficient and effective at the task now that you are receiving that helping hand. It takes less time to ask a friend or neighbor for assistance and to receive it than it does to figure out a 10-step pulley system to hoist furniture into your second story apartment. I should know, I stood for a very long time in the self-help aisle trying to think of one.
It can be somewhat daunting at first, working up the courage to ask for help. However, it is made somewhat easier for the military spouse since we have pre-established military communities with our own customs and culture. One of the wonderful things about our military community is that most people you meet are willing to help. We have the shared burden of consistently uprooting our lives and moving to new places. We all have first-hand experience in situations where we have needed assistance and had to ask someone we’d just met for help.
Another way I have tapped into the knowledge-base and support of our military community is through online crowd-sourcing. The best people to ask about a new duty station are those who have been there before or live there currently. During our last couple of moves, I’ve found myself turning towards my online military community for their experiences and assistance more than the official channels of information that are offered to us or a quick search on an internet search engine. Communities like InDependent have lead me to find out out the best farmers markets and grocery stores, and where the closest fitness centers are with the best facilities. Resources like PCSgrades have helped me find what areas to look for housing, moving companies and so many other things we all need to know when we relocate. Crowd-sourcing is where I’ve found most of the hidden gems that made our new home so memorable.
Asking for support from those around you or online provides more benefits than simply overcoming a task. You gain the benefit of making new friends, learning more about the area, and taking the first steps into integrating into the community. Seeking those within the military community has not only made moving to a new post easier, it has informed and enriched my family.
How has being a member of the military community helped you during your move?
Author: Evie King is a former Army Brat who said she would never marry into the military. Well, after three years of long distance dating, she married her soldier in 2011. They have gone through three deployments, moved to four duty stations, and had one overseas assignment to South Korea. Not one to sit idle, Evie enjoys meeting new people, trying new recipes, and planning her family’s next trip. Evie is now the Community Manager of InDependent, a fiscally sponsored non-profit that connects military spouses to health and wellness resources and support. You can learn more about Evie here.