We've all heard the phrase "bloom where you're planted," especially in military circles. Most have their own opinion about the phrase itself -- some love it, some hate it. You can't argue that it's one that military families can identify with. It's supposed to inspire us to go out and conquer the world no matter where we are currently living. It's super cliché, right along with the picture of a flower growing out of a crack in a sidewalk.
And while the notion that we can thrive anywhere as long as we put our mind to it is great, the truth is some of us don't bloom everywhere.
When we get the news of orders to a new duty station, one of the first things a lot of us do is hop on a Facebook group to ask questions about the area. That's great if you're moving to one of the quintessential "good" assignments, like an overseas PCS to Germany or Japan, or even stateside in Florida or California.
However, when moving to a place that has a negative reputation... well, the feedback can be disorienting. Getting 100 replies that your new location is riddled with crime, or there's nothing to do or the schools all suck is hard to overcome and hard to get excited about.
But, honestly? I tend to think if a person absolutely hates where they are stationed, it has way more to do with them than the area. Often times, those same people telling you how awful an area is hopped on the bandwagon and accepted someone else's experience as their own.
For example, Becky may hate where she lives because she (and her friends) keep up a lot of drama. Susan never leaves the house, has no friends and is doing nothing to change her situation. Kesha's husband had an affair and now whenever she thinks about that place her blood pressure rises. Maria can't find a job, but that's because she's applying for jobs where she's not qualified.
And while there are legitimate concerns about every duty station, if people can't find anything good about where they live, ultimately the problem is THEM.
In just the past few months I've witnessed friends move to Fort Polk, Louisiana, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and Fort Dix, New Jersey, and guess what? They all love it. Our family has been stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina twice and we like it just fine. In each of these cases, it isn't because they were told that it was an awesome place to be stationed; in fact just the opposite.
Despite what they were told, these families were determined to make the most of where they are. They've focused on what family activities they can do, what towns they can explore for day trips and weekend getaways. They're invested in their community and making new friends. What they haven't done is sulk on social media about what a horrible place they live.
So you're probably thinking -- where are you supposed to gather information from, if not from those groups?
While Facebook groups can be a valuable resource, remember that the military community is still small. Chances are someone you know has either been stationed there, or they know someone reliable who has.
Ask them for an introduction and pick that person's brain. In a big group setting, stick to asking questions about logistics, like hair salons and the schools and neighborhoods that people have enjoyed, rather than asking about their overall experience.
Moving to a new city and starting over again is already stressful enough, in its own right. You don't need to adopt someone's negative feelings about your new home.