One of my goals for this year was to be more out there in terms of attending events, reaching out to friends, and spending time with people. I feel like I coasted through a lot of 2012 and I don’t want that to be the case for 2013. I want to be present in this life and live it as best I can. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 29 months of OCONUS living, it is the importance of being friendly.
When we first moved to Ramstein in 2010, they were not expecting us. My husband’s orders had him belonging to Randolph AFB in Texas but we were physically attached to Ramstein AB in Germany. We didn’t have a sponsor, didn’t have anyone to meet us at the airport (okay, there was a guy that should have done that, but he didn’t and we still survived). We were on our own. We didn’t think much of it until a Lt. Col wanted to drag us (B) into a meeting with a General over the dropped ball. Luckily, we explained our unique circumstances and went on our way.
Due to our arrangements though, there was no squadron spouses group for me to join. I didn’t learn about the general spouses club until much closer to our leaving time and I didn’t like that most of their events were either geared toward Mommy and Me outings or couple’s events that cost 75-100 dollars to attend. I was stuck in a no-man’s land of trying to find friends while not having a place to meet anyone. There was one other wife in our little group, but she had her friends and I just felt like an outsider. This went on for most of 2011, until she had her baby and her husband had to go TDY for a month. I invited her to dinner while he was gone (it should be noted that we’d had them as a couple over many times). Something clicked and we spent the last three months before they PCS’d home relatively inseparable. All because of one little dinner invite.
You would think I would have learned from that. And I did, sort of. But I maintained that I wanted to make friends with people who would reciprocate invitations. When we got here, there was a spouses group and I do go to that. I’ve learned of the awkwardness of listening to people complain about their husband’s new boss all while knowing that new boss was my husband.
What hasn’t changed though, is the need to do the inviting. I don’t know what it is about living overseas that causes people to huddle in their house and not do things, but it’s the same here as it was in Germany. Basically if B and I don’t do the inviting, things don’t happen. So guess what? We invite people all the time. We do Boneless Wings Mondays, Midweek Dinners at our place, Friday night drinks at the Club, Saturday night grill out in our yard, Sunday lunch and movie trips to the mall. And that’s just what we do with the big group. I try to throw in at least one girl’s lunch/trip during the week too. Why? Because this life can be hard and lonely; the only way to make it better is to share the joys and sorrows.
I still wish that I had friends that would reciprocate invitations. But I don’t get bent out of shape if they don’t. I’ve learned that very few people say no to a lunch invite and that most of them are just lonely people wishing for something to do. Besides, the result of being the ones to issue the invitation is that we have pretty much full control over what the group does.
It doesn’t matter where you are, when you move somewhere new you’ll have to make new friends. If you are normally the type to wait around for an invite, I’m going to challenge you to find someone to ask to lunch. Chances are they’ve been waiting just like you have to find a new friend. If it’s out of your comfort zone, take heart in knowing that it is out of mine too, but that I’d still invite you for sushi if we lived in the same area.
Are you an inviter or do you let someone else issue the invitations?