Remote work has opened up new opportunities for military-affiliated workers, as many remote jobs can travel from state to state. As you build a life here in the Fort Liberty area, here are some ways to grow some local roots even as you work at home.
Find a space to claim as your own
Depending on your type of work and living situation, working remotely can make it easy to lose touch with the seasons and the outdoor environment. Taking the time to explore nearby outdoor parks, trails and lakes can go a long way in feeling rooted in the community.
You might enjoy a daily or weekly walk at Cape Fear Trail, time to write by the lake at Mazarick Park, a weekly family picnic at Honeycutt Park, coffee at a local haunt, or some bird watching at Lake Rim Park fishing access.
Daily or weekly rhythms in local places create stability. You can see the leaves change and fall from the trees, and branches bud again.
There’s a lot of value in exploring new places, but there’s also something special about finding a place you love in your neighborhood or a short drive away to claim as your own. It can be a peaceful or joyful place where you can simply take in your surroundings.
As the seasons of your family, work and environment change, create a life-giving rhythm to help you stay connected to your senses and sense of physical place.
Show up to places to spark new conversations
Online co-workers and contacts are invaluable in military life. However, with every new installation comes an opportunity for new conversations and connections you may have never anticipated.
“Business networking” isn’t motivating to everyone, especially within the military community. It can be difficult to invest your limited energy into conversations that seem anything but authentic.
But this is where you can get creative and find a place more conducive to your specific personality. Maybe a room of 100 people mingling sounds exhausting, but a smaller group event of 5-10 people might lead to more engaging conversations.
Find one civilian event to attend once a month or quarter. Find one military-focused event to attend regularly. With an open attitude, some consistency and a willingness to learn about others, you might be surprised by the connections you can find.
Local military-focused professional groups
Local civilian professional associations, events, groups and more!
(Note: There are so many more than those listed!
Notice the ties already present in your life
Remote work can help retain emotional energy due to not being in close proximity to co-workers, but this can also lead to a sense of isolation in the midst of military moves. Whether for fitness, fiber arts, hunting, reading, gaming, hiking, soldier-family readiness groups, kids play groups or other interests, it’s worth it to make an effort to find connections outside of work and home.
Social “weak ties,” are connections that are not particularly close, like the barista who usually takes your order, the coach at a fitness class or the fellow committee members you see once a month.
“Strong ties” are deeper relationships, such as a person’s family and close friends. Research has shown that a variety in the number of weak ties in a person’s life benefits them both economically and socially.
So you may never become close friends with the people in your book club or running group, but the presence of these ties can add value to your life all the same.
In the absence of co-worker or vendor relationships which may fill these roles to some extent in an in-person job, these casual encounters become even more important. Cultivate your roots by building upon both strong and weak ties in your day-to-day life.
Finding a place to belong can seem daunting as a military person. It takes time to build trust with people. But on the road to local belonging, there are ways to find a sense of stability along the way: find a physical place to call your own, show up to places to spark new connections and notice the valuable strong and weak ties already present.
What places help the Fort Liberty area feel like home to you?
Editor's note: As part of CityView's commitment to filling gaps by providing reporting and information for the Fort Liberty community, our HomeFront initiative features two columnists who will write regularly about issues military families face.
Aria Spears is a writer, communications professional and civic leadership enthusiast. With a master's degree in nonprofit and civic leadership, Aria can be found exploring cities, persuading people to join local civic boards and sharing her book The Community Mapping Journal. When it comes to active-duty military family life, she believes that joy makes us strong.
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