Setting the Tone: Choosing Optimism


We’ve all been there. It’s PCS time, and we miss the things we left behind. We miss the familiarity of knowing where all our favorite ingredients are at the grocery store. There’s missing knowing how to get around. We miss our favorite little restaurants that save us on the nights we cannot imagine getting dinner on the table. Most of all, we miss our friends. Nowadays, the cool kids are calling it a ‘squad.’ I am not that cool. I just learned that was an actual term yesterday. But you know what I mean, we miss our people.

In case you need “squad goals,” this is it!

Just because we miss those things does not mean we have to be bummed out about it all the time. We can set the tone of our attitude by choosing optimism. We can know that when we leave wherever it is that we just moved to, we will feel the same way about it as we feel about our last duty station now. Just give it time. It is not always easy, but it is possible and will surely make your life a whole lot better.

This can be applicable to all things in our lives, not just our PCS attitude. I think this example is just the easiest for every military spouse or active duty military mom to relate to. It is super important to remember that all things in life are temporary. We might as well look at it all with joy.

I bring this up because I think it’s very important to remember this when we are amongst the many. We all have the opportunity to set the tone of a conversation, and it is a choice. Just like it’s a choice to treat others with respect, it’s a choice to start steering a conversation in a positive or negative direction. And let’s be honest, it is very easy to join in on the bashing once it starts (as I said before, completely applicable to all conversations, not just duty station ones).

This topic recently came up in conversation and I am going to share a little backstory…

We are overseas on a fairly remote tour without a base in the whole country. Therefore, we are “kind of, sort of” attached to the embassy here. There is a squad (see what I did there?) of expats who have invited me to join in on their fun! I love being included, and so I have joined in on their ladies lunch on occasion.

Getting together with other women is necessary for a woman’s sanity. And therefore, these lunches are crucial. When expats get together, often there is a tendency to talk about all the things you miss about the United States. This is all fine and dandy if it ends there. When it turns into bashing the things you don’t like about where you live, it is going down the wrong path.

The first time that I went to one of these lunches, I was so thankful that I had been here long enough to be out of the tunnel of desperation that so often happens when we first PCS. I had finally figured out the grocery store; I had figured out how to navigate our small section of this crazy city; and we had discovered some of our favorite restaurants. I could see the incredible perks of living in Buenos Aires and had mostly adjusted to the chaos of it all.

But, imagine if I hadn’t. We have to think outside of ourselves sometimes and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. If I had been brand new still and heard the complaints that day, it would have tainted the way I saw the city. I would have seen everything through bitter lenses. That is not how we are meant to live, and certainly not how I want to live. If I had started looking through a skewed perception, I would have missed all the amazing and special things unique to this culture.

When I brought this topic up at the last lunch that I attended, someone pointed out something very important and oh so true. She said, “sometimes I like a good crank-fest.” All right, she didn’t say crank, but you get the gist. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment! BUT, I think it should be reserved for your “true squad”– your small group of women, or sometimes just one great friend, is the best audience to air grievances.

This is my squad. I could not live without these women.

These women know the true you and know what you need to hear or not hear when you are having one of those moments where you just need to be whiny. They are the women who build you up. They are there with a net when you feel like you’re spiraling down. These are the women who know you might just be having a moment. When these moments happen in front of mere acquaintances or just plain strangers, you have to try to remember how that complaining might be affecting those around you. Maybe she is truly struggling and is already feeling like she is in that dark place. Let’s try to be the light for that person in the darkness. It’s always best to assume that someone needs to hear the good instead of the bad.

If any of you out there grew up with a mother like mine, you have heard at least a hundred times the age-old saying,

“Choose who you surround yourself with carefully, that’s who you’ll become.”

Let’s choose optimism and be that person to someone else. The person who wants to be surrounded by you. Because your thoughts become your actions and your actions become your habits. We should be building the right habits together!


  1. Emily, I love this. We need more optimists in this world. I’m sure you are a God-light wherever you go. God bless you.

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