Find Friends

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by LineInTheSand, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    One of my little bits of advice for "Life after the academy" is, find friends. I'm not talking about making friends with fellow JOs at your unit/on your ship, but find something to be active in within the community when you're not at work. This may not be easy during your first duty station, or maybe even your second, but it's very important.

    Where's this advice coming from? I am an unmarried (although with girlfriend from another part of the country), 25 year old junior officer. I was stationed on a ship for two years and I am now at a staff job in Washington, DC. On my ship, I generally got along with my fellow JOs (you won't get along ALL the time). I lived with another guy from my ship (OCS grad) and a classmate who was on our sister ship. I was with my shipmate 24/7. That doesn't mean we always talked. We got enough of each other underway. My classmate who lived with us was generally underway while we were inport, however there was some overlap. During that overlap he was usually with his girlfriend. When we were together, the conversations generally turned towards work...which gets old very shortly.

    With that set up, it became very lonely. I didn't know anyone in the area. I didn't have friends that weren't on my ship. There wasn't much to do in the town I was in. I wasn't the happiest camper. I found a men's hockey league that I joined, went to Phillies games, and got some Phantoms and Flyers tickets, but that hardly fills the void.

    I moved to Washington, DC after two years on the ship. Here I had one friend that was not related to the Coast Guard in any way. He introduced me to his friends, we got together many times, had fun, etc. I live alone now. I did buy a pet, which gives me something alive to come home to every day. My neighbors are great. I joined my work's hockey team, my college alumni soccer team for the DC area, and my church league softball team. I bought season tickets to the Capitals, a partial season ticket package to the Nationals, and made friends with a fellow hockey fan at games.

    Last night, I thought I would wake up, head to church, watch a movie and then sit at home. At church I was invited by another member to join them for Easter Dinner...and I did, and it was great.

    Why do I say all of this?

    Being alone, away from home, with few outlets to burn some energy, and limited ability to get "in" with groups, it can be tough on a young adult. You can find your days just slowly forming into new days, with little change. You may look forward to the weekends, but when they come around, you find nothing to do.

    Find friends. Find something completely unrelated to work, and commit to it. Make friends that couldn't care less what you do for a living, and invest in your community. You will have to actively find ways to become part of activities in your area.

    I cannot overstate the importance of finding people to "be with", to "change it up" a bit.

    So, go out there once you graduate and find a new home, when you get there, find some people to hang out with. Someone who will call you when they're going to do something. Someone who will include you in the real world.
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Many times people will live off base and attend the community for religious events. There are a couple of reasons to do this that is also very important.
    One:If you live your life completely around the base/post, you will be living the military life 24/7 and that is the quickest way to achieve burn-out.
    Two: Bullet and I have many friends that had difficulty transitioning into the civilian world, whether it was after 5, or 20 yrs. All they knew was living on base, shopping at the commissary, hanging at the club. Once they went civilian they had to acclimate to the fact that the civilian life is not the same. You don't hang out after work, your neighbors don't pop over for a beer just b/c they saw you hanging in your backyard, etc.
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Church is a good place to find people to hang out with.
     
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Also when the day comes have your kids play on the town intramural sports, and not the base league. Or do base league and Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts in town, but remember not to isolate yourself just with the military.

    As LITS has shown through his own experience there will be assignments that you will not have that support. LITS is incredibly young to have been offered a Pentagon assignment, most are at least O-4 and by that time ready to stop living/breathing/eating the military life 24/7. However, if you get selected for PME in residence at a sister school you will find yourself in the same boat (no pun to LITS), since you are the minority and the commonality that you have with them is you both wear a uniform, albeit different services..
     

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