I like to joke that I move “more often than an escaped convict on the run.” It’s funny, but also pretty accurate. I’ve moved 7 times in under 7 years, and it’s been a wild ride. I feel like for a lot of military spouses, you either love moving so often, or you hate it. I tend to be more down the middle. It just is what it is. The process of moving itself is never fun, but living in a new place can be enjoyable. Like anything, there are pros and cons, and I just have to focus on the pros. I’ve only written down two each, just for the sake of concision, but I think they narrow down on the highs and lows of this lifestyle.
Pro: I get more opportunities to explore this beautiful world.
I’m a creature of habit, especially when it comes to vacations. Disney parks and cruises are my go-to options, and it’s hard for me to give up what I love to try something new. I’d much rather dedicate my vacation time to the House of Mouse and then use my long weekends and holidays to explore my surrounding areas. Living in so many different places has opened me up to new places and experiences that otherwise I would never have been exposed to. In the past few years, I’ve been just a short drive or cheap flight away from some pretty awesome places:
- Estes Park, Colorado
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Folley Beach, South Carolina
- Covington, Kentucky
And that’s just a few of them! I can honestly say that if I hadn’t been living locally to these spots, I never would have checked many (or any) of them out. I’d never even heard of Covington before last week, and now I’d happily spend all my free time there. Before living in Louisiana, New Orleans wasn’t a place I’d ever considered visiting, and now it’s one of my favorite places on earth. Moving so often has definitely opened me up to a world of destination possibilities.
Con: I never know where I am. Like, ever.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am directionally challenged, I tend to get a bit frazzled when navigating a new location, and it takes me a long time to remember my way around. And since I am constantly moving, every location has been unfamiliar to me for most of my time there. I wish I were the type of person who could drive a route once and commit it to memory for life. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for me — I can live somewhere for a year and still need to use my GPS to get to the pharmacy. So that puts me in a constant state of confusion, trying to figure out where I am and where I need to go to get to where I need to be.
I’ve also noticed for my first several nights living in a new place; I’ll often wake up confused or panicked with no idea where I am. Or I’ll be groggy and think I am somewhere else entirely. Yes, this has lead to me walking into walls and tripping over furniture while I’m half asleep and on the hunt for a glass of water. None of that is a big deal, but I do miss being in familiar places and the comfort that comes with that.
Pro: Sometimes, it’s nice just to start over.
Who here has ever wanted to just pack up, leave town, and start over? I’m a huge advocate for it — sometimes, a radical change is exactly what we need to turn things around. As a teen, I ended up at the center of my fair share of self-inflicted juvenile messes, and I couldn’t seem to break the pattern. It turns out that heading off to a new town was the catalyst to finally growing up. And I guess I still see moving around as an opportunity for growth. Here are a few reasons why I’ve found moving to be beneficial, despite is sucking literally every time:
- I’ve grown to be more self-sufficient. Each move starts without a support network, so I’ve had to learn how to figure things out for myself and be the kind of person I can count on.
- I’ve learned to be intentional with relationships. Time is short, so I’ve had to get out of my awkward little shell, invest in people, and love well while I am around to do it.
- I’ve embraced Christian hospitality. Everywhere we go, there are godly people who have made us feel welcome in their homes, and it’s inspired me to do the same for others.
- I’ve realized that nothing is permanent — and that’s a good thing. Even if the situation isn’t optimal this time around, it isn’t the end of the world. This too shall pass.
Con: Leaving behind loved ones takes a toll — and it can get lonely.
I get attached to people very quickly. I don’t believe in doing things half-heartedly, so when I meet someone that I click with, I pull them 100% into my life. My friends become permanent fixtures in my life as if they are my own family, and it feels more normal to be with them than without them. So then, when we inevitably part ways, it is one of the most painful, heartbreaking things. And it happens over and over again. This one con in particular usually just about cancels out all the pros. You could be sending me to live in a beautiful mansion on the beach in Hawaii, and if I had the choice, I’d still want to give the option to someone else and stay with my friends.
And yes, it is very lonely. My friends are all amazing, and we all keep in touch — we text and FaceTime and MarcoPolo, but no matter how you slice it, it’s just not the same. So then I get to a new place, grieving for all my friendships, and on top of that, I am starting to scratch in the friend department. It blows. And even though I go all in very quickly with people, it still takes time. I’ve had a couple of deep relationships develop instantaneously, but I know that kind of magic is very rare.
Side note: can we just talk about how awkward it is making friends as an adult? When I was a kid I could just walk up to another little girl and say “Hi, I’m Lydia, wanna be best friends?” And that would be that. Thank goodness for church and dropzones, otherwise the extent of my human interaction would be explaining to a weirded-out person in Target that I’m not trying to sell them leggings or shampoo; I really do just want to hang out with them!
So there you go. If I had a choice, I think I’m ready to put down some roots and stop saying goodbye to my loved ones. But since we have at least 9 more years to go in the military, I’m just focusing on those positives.