Here I am, a seasoned military spouse currently living through another deployment—one with less than a year of dwell time—and I’m preaching embracing the military life rather than simply surviving it. You’re probably thinking I’ve been at it so long I’ve lost my marbles and don’t know what I’m talking about anymore (and, yes, some days that is true!) But, I’m here to tell you, simply surviving military life will leave you missing the many unseen learning opportunities and hidden gifts of this crazy, heart wrenching, amazing journey.
Surviving military life is something to be proud of no doubt, whether you’re the military member, spouse, or child. This life isn’t for the faint-hearted; it’s for the fighters. No matter where you started your journey, you’ll end up as a person that persevered despite the circumstances and the environment. However, if you frequently focus on the struggles, you’ll look back on many years of dedicated service with the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” mentality. That’s why I say you should embrace it, learn from it, and immerse yourself in the experience so you don’t have any regrets.
Here’s how embracing military life can change your experience from just surviving to thriving:
Your skill set is unique and in demand.
The military life equips people with amazing skills that can be translated into civilian skill sets and experience. How many people can say they single handedly managed an overseas move? How about navigating a new country, not as a tourist, but as someone that immersed themselves in the language and culture? What about managing projects, schedules, and deployments? All of these translate into amazing skills in the civilian workforce and volunteer force. Embrace these challenges and struggles in the military life to grow professionally. You’ll be an asset any organization would fight to keep.
You’re a world traveler.
Okay, not everyone gets to live OCONUS, but even traveling around the U.S. is a challenge. There are major cultural differences throughout this great country, which makes it the great and diverse place that it is. As a military member, you have the opportunity to learn about the different cultures and bridge gaps in misconceptions and stereotypes whether to the local community about the military, or between different cultures. These opportunities make it possible to make our world a more understanding society, and better place to live for our future generations.
You have a HUGE network.
There’s a lot of sadness that surrounds moving every few years and leaving friends behind, or them leaving you with a hole you can’t possibly fill with someone new. But, there is always someone new. It’s like with children, your heart simply expands allowing for more people to become your family. This amazing military family you grow becomes a great resource throughout your military life and beyond. You’ve likely got an arsenal of experts in your network that can help you find a mechanic, choose a good school, find a job, or bring you a much needed glass of wine. Use them. We are in this together!
You can help others facing military life struggles.
When you’re simply trying to get by, it makes it hard to see the forest among the trees. Embracing this life and learning to flow with it provides a sense of clarity that most of us lack in those first few years. But once you’ve got it, you become the beacon of hope for those that are still searching for their path. Embrace this life, and you can be the resource that takes those struggles and turns them into successes for one of our own.
by: Jessica Howington