Oh no. You got (insert least desired duty station here). Ugh, no. Why?

Once you get over the denial and anger stages of this unwanted move, it’s time to get busy trying to maybe kind of enjoy this place for a few years. Okay, tall bill, I know. But if I can do it, so can you!

3 Tips to Learn to Maybe Kind of Enjoy a Duty Station You Didn’t Want

Truth time: I did not want to go to Okinawa in 2016. Full stop. It wasn’t on my radar, ever. If it came up in conversation, my face twisted up like I bit into a lemon, hard. Again: Did. Not. Want.

Then orders came down and there wasn’t a choice.

My husband basically pried my fingers off the chairs in SeaTac. It wasn’t pretty. Actually, the first 6-8 months of living in Japan wasn’t pretty. I hated it. I had a list of things I hated, too.

  • Driving on the “wrong” side of the road
  • Not being able to read food ingredients out in town
  • Trouble communicating with non-Americans
  • Our tiny house
  • The tiny cars
  • Unending humid heat

Tl;DR: I hated everything. Except for the food, the actual food was pretty good. That was the start of my shift in perspective.

1. Find Your One Good Thing

My good thing? Soba soup. Okinawa soba is a rich broth chock full of yummy wheat noodles and topped with thick slices of perfectly cooked pork. Yum.

Bad day? Get soba. Good day? Get soba. Which is how I basically ate more than my weight in noodles in three years.

Clearly, my one good thing was food. Once I let in this one positive, others started to flood in! This might not be the case for you. There might literally just be one thing you like. That’s totally fine.

But try to just find one thing. Here are some options:

  • Food: regional cuisine or something a local restaurant does well
  • Outside: hiking trails, beaches, views or parks that are near you
  • Social: make a friend and go from there
  • Work: try to land a good job or head back to school to launch your next career
  • Church: find a solid faith community, if that’s your thing
  • Fitness: join a great gym, class, fitness club or find a cool place to exercise outside
  • Travel: places you can go to nearby that you love
  • Tourist Stuff: hit up the major attractions, like zoos and museums, that speak to you

Even if you never discover more than one good thing at your current place, you’ve at least got something good!

2. Count Your Blessings

Make like Kristen Bell and consciously seek out positives in your life. The actor recently shared how she controls her anxiety, especially when she feels herself getting stuck in a negative rut.

Kristen has been “naming 10 things I love for every 1 thing I don’t” as a way to focus on the positives in life.

That’s it.

Even if you literally can’t stand (insert awful post here), there are good things in your life. Name them, out loud or in writing. Journal about them. Keep them in your mind, even when you’re cursing the traffic, tractors or whatever it is you hate about your duty station.

In Okinawa, whenever I thought about something bad, I tried to remind myself of how much I had to be thankful for. Here are some of my good things:

  • Loving, considerate spouse
  • Great, healthy kids
  • Reliable childcare
  • Yummy foods to try
  • Cool places to travel for relatively cheap
  • Unique experience
  • Great friends and neighbors
  • Beautiful beaches
  • Roof over my head

Your things you love or are grateful for can be super basic or really elaborate. But it’s easier to shift your mindset from hating your location to kind of tolerating it by keeping positives in your mind.

3. Remember: It’s Temporary

Y’all, your military life situations are only temporary. Seriously, this too shall pass. In a few months or years, you’ll move away to another place and you might find yourself getting nostalgic for your right-now home.

No, seriously, it might happen! Right now, I’m seriously missing Okinawa. The safety, the beaches and (let’s be real) the food. Sushi just isn’t as good in the US. Trust me, it’s not.

You’ll be moving and unpacking into yet another temporary home pretty soon. So just hang on for a little bit longer. Focus on your one good thing and count the things you love about your life.

I promise you can get through this awful, terrible duty station. And you might actually end up maybe tolerating, or even liking, it! Just a little, maybe.

How do you handle a duty station you’ve been dreading or actively despise? We’d love your wisdom and advice



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Meg is a military spouse, teacher, writer, and mom of two MilKids. She is an education blog and coaching/advocacy service focused on military families. Meg's mission is to help families understand and navigate the K-12 world. She provides timely posts, timeless advice, and personal assistance to families with school-aged children. You can find Meg online at megflanagan.com and @MegFlanaganEducation

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