Friendships as a Military Brat Pt 3: True Friends
This series of blogs has been hard to write because it touches on a topic that I find difficult. There are so many different things I ramble on about when it comes to trying to form and maintain lasting friendships as a military kid, and how that impacts you in your relationships later in life.
The last two blogs were about the complexity of forming and maintaining friendships, as well as the loneliness that often coincides with moving. But this week, I want to end it on a happy note, because there is also a lot of beauty in the friendships that you find in this nomadic life.
Let’s End on a Happy Note
I have journaled sporadically throughout my life. Something I love about journaling is that I can go back and see what this day was like “x” years ago. When I am feeling lonely or sad and missing my friends, I like to go back to one entry I wrote in high school.
It was the summer between junior and senior years, which happened to be a very lonely summer. My friends back in Virginia were preparing for the excitement of senior year, and I didn’t really know anyone from my new school in Montana yet. That summer, I journaled a lot. A lot of those pages contained self-pity, irritation, and a nice big dose of teenage drama.
But, there was one entry where I decided to change my perspective. After writing this entry, the rage calmed, and my mind opened back up a bit. Focusing my thoughts on a more positive outlook helped me finally accept and better appreciate the journey I had had. But it took me choosing to do that, not just waiting for the sadness to go away.
Here is what I wrote:
July 2011 -- Dear Journal,
“I am really tired of being sad and lonely. It is truly exhausting. My parents are both so busy with work and the new assignment, and Laura is in Indiana. I’ve spent a lot of time on Skype with my friends, but when I come away from those calls, it just makes me sadder. I am sitting here 2000 miles away, alone and they are getting to hang out together: have campouts, hang out at the pool, go to dance team practices. I started the dance team a few weeks ago with my new high school, but I don’t know any of the girls very well yet.
When I look at my entries from the past few months, they have been a little depressing. And honestly, it’s just tiring to feel this way. So, starting today, I’m not going to feel that way I’ve decided. Here are all the things I should be happy about instead:
I counted, and over the span of the last 17 years of my life, I have had 24 best friends! That is just best friends. I mean, how lucky is that? These are people that I’ve been blessed with at the right times in my life. Some are still around, and we keep in touch -- others have long-since moved on. But for that time, whether it was 1 year or 7, they were a big part of my life.
There are friends on this list that have traveled to see me no matter how far away I lived. They cared enough about our friendship to come to see me, and one has even been visiting every summer since middle school. I have learned a lot from all of these people too. I feel like I’ve experienced so many different personality types and ways of living.
Some friends have taught me new skills, and others showed me all the cool places to hang out in town. Some have made me laugh until it hurts; others taught me how to ski and run long distances without puking. I’ve been invited on family vacations, asked to be at the hospital for the birth of a little sister, and even invited to live with a friend to finish our senior year.
Not only did I have those friends, but they became family, and our families became family. Some helped me through the car accident, the death of Samson (my dog), and various other things. Every person I have called a best friend has taught me something about myself, life, and people, and I am a better person because of each of them.”
The Real MVFs (Most Valuable Friends)
Not a lot of people get to experience so many beautiful friendships in their lives. It is a blessing and an honor to have all these people that I have gotten to know and to have been a part of their lives, even if it was brief.
Of course, there will always be a little sting when you see people from your past still hanging out together without you. Or when you recount fond memories and wonder if those people ever think about you too.
But throughout the moves and the broken promises of keeping in touch, there have emerged some real champion friends. People that no matter the distance or amount of time apart; will always pick up the phone and have your back when you need it.
For every point in my life, God has placed exactly the right person there with me. I have had the richness of having a diverse and spread out group of friends. No, it is not the best friend that I’ve known since kindergarten, but it is pretty cool in its own way.
All It Takes is a Shift in Perspective
It can be easy to get caught up in the friendships that are no more or didn’t turn out how you expected them to. But with a little change in perspective, the longing for what you don’t have can turn in to appreciation for everything you do. Whether I already know them and we have yet to become close friends, or I haven’t met them yet, I know from previous experience, that there will always be some pretty awesome friends waiting around every corner.
In the end, I wouldn’t change a thing. If we hadn’t moved to all those places, I wouldn’t have known all of the incredible people that were put into my life right when I needed them.
PS. Parents actually can make good friends, and they go with you wherever you go, so don’t discount the super quality time you get to spend with the parents when you first move somewhere and don’t have friends to hang out with on a Friday night. One day you’ll miss those nights.