Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Secret to Making Friends During Deployment

Comment Prompt: How have all your friends disappeared prior to a cruise? Did you find a way to make new friends?


photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc
This time last year, I remember being particularly proud of myself for having a wonderful group of friends. I thought to myself, thank goodness because last time I did a cruise, I made no effort to make friends and felt absolutely alone during deployment, not to mention completely incapable of making new friends with my husband gone and our social life out the door. So when he went on a detachment recently, I thought to myself, I can handle my own Cruise Challenge and go out every weekend. No problem. I have friends I can call up. I have friends who are willing to go out with me.

WRONG!

Don’t get me wrong. I have friends, but not friends I hang out with regularly. All of a sudden, I realized half my local friends have drifted away, or I hung out with them through my husband and feel awkward contacting them without him, or I just haven’t spoken to them in months and feel weird calling them out of nowhere.

There’s nothing more unpleasant than starting a deployment or a detachment realizing that in addition to your husband/boyfriend, all of your friends have disappeared too.

photo credit: jamelah via photopin cc

Suddenly, you realize you haven’t spoken to any friends in months. When did that happen? How did that happen? How come I didn’t notice before?

It’s a vicious cycle really. As the boys get ready to go away, it’s natural for the both of you to want to spend all of your time together and what ends up happening is you unintentionally isolate yourself from all of your friends. Then when he leaves, it feels awkward and maybe even rude to just call them up out of nowhere.

Well, a part of my Cruise Challenge is to go out with friends and socialize with people but that’s not going to work out very well if I don’t have anyone to call upon. There is a brighter note. A part of the Cruise Challenge is to use your extra time to get new hobbies, and I suggest choosing social hobbies, so you can make new friends. Nevertheless, if you are like me – a closet shy person – meeting new people doesn’t always turn into a hang out situation.

photo credit: *vlad* via photopin cc
I’m afraid the only solution is to put yourself out there! It’s hard, and it takes courage and a lot of times you seriously have to force yourself, but ask people for their number, call them up randomly, and see if they want to do something. If they are open to it then you have nothing to fear, and if they aren’t open to it, they will try to be nice and say they are too busy to do something, which if you think about it, really isn’t that scary. It’s just awkward at first, but what I have discovered as I force my shyness into the closet is that socializing is awkward. The only way around it, is to train yourself not to feel so awkward or just pretend until it goes away.

Another option is to be self-aware of when you start to isolate friends and warn them as to why it’s happening, and keep in touch with them through social media or text or phone call so when the boys do leave, it doesn’t feel so awkward to contact your friends. I think just explaining why you are not coming around and telling them you will be back when your man leaves should be enough and friends will understand.

How have all your friends disappeared prior to a cruise? Did you find a way to make new friends?

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About Stephanie Carroll
U&E Founder & Author
Buy Her Book A White Room!
Photo by Randy Enriquez
I dated and married my husband in 2004 when I was 19. I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy, and I didn't know what to ask.

After ten years of learning in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered. I wanted to spread the knowledge that I needed when I was new, to reveal what took years for me to learn.   
Cover Design by Jenny Q
  
In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction.

My first novel A White Room debuted in 2013 and is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions of becoming a nurse to marry a man who can save her destitute family. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness until she stumbles on an opportunity to nurse to the poor despite the fact that her husband prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.

Learn more at www.stephaniecarroll.net and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

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