I am a military brat. I have moved 15 times.
My father has been an active duty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for more than 30 years. Throughout those 30 years, I have changed houses, schools, cities and states. Sometimes it would be for a couple years, other times just a couple months. After a while, you get used to packing up and moving every couple of months. You learn to accept it as reality.
For most military families, moving is not a big deal. Families become closer and bond together because family is the only constant thing in life. Brothers and sisters know no matter where they move they always have friends with them.
For me, moving was a little bit different. I am an only child.
Everywhere I went, I was the new kid in school. People don’t always take too kindly to the new kid.
Coming into a new school and being that new kid made it hard to make friends. The kids in school had been living in the same neighborhood and had the same friends with the same people for their wholes lives. It can be hard to break into cliques. But I didn’t have a choice.
Facing these cliques forced me to become a more social person to make friends.
The hardest time I had breaking these cliques was moving to Belmont, Massachusetts. I was around 9 years old, and the part of Belmont where I lived was a fairly close-knit community, so all the kids had been going to school together for years.
I loved living in Belmont. It’s close to Boston and the Red Sox were on a tear that year. The kids at my school, however, made the overall experience less than ideal.
When I look back on Belmont now, I see how the experience made me grow as a person. It made me into a stronger person. It taught me how to face cliques and let go of bad experiences of the past.
That is something I struggled with during every move: letting go.
I would get hung up on something that happened in the past and let it affect me for longer than it should have. This really affected my social life at school and made it hard for me to make friends. Learning to let go of past bad experiences and grow from them instead of dwelling on them changed me as a person.
Instead of looking at past as problems, I look at it as the foundation of what shaped me into the person I am today. While moving so often as an only child proved to be a difficult at times, it forced me to grow into a stronger and a more social person. It made me who I am.
I have learned that life is filled with positive and negative experiences. What determines tomorrow is how you look at the past. For me, changing my view of the past from a resentful experience to a learning one has helped me in everyday interactions.
I see people struggle with this problem often. It’s hard to just let go sometimes, but finding a way to let go and make peace with the past will take the stress off. The past is the past. You can’t change it, so finding a way to grow from it will ultimately make you a stronger person.
For me, moving 15 times as an only child forced me to grow. It forced me out of my shell and forced me to meet new people. It forced me to try new things and join different clubs and teams. It wasn’t easy, but I had to do it.
The moving used to bother me a lot. Having to say bye to friends every year and moving to a whole new area was hard. It put a lot of stress on me. I would dwell on every little thing and let it fester. Learning to grow from these experiences instead of dwelling on them really helped me.
Sometimes you just have to let go and move on.
Erik Thomas, ’17, is an associate visuals editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]