I face-planted into being a military spouse. I had been so excited about my fiancé returning from deployment and getting married to him that I forgot to think about what would happen after. What would happen after I left my job? What would working from home be like for me? How would I maintain my independence?
Other than figuring out what direction my career would take, I asked myself very few questions. We were getting married, I’d be with the handsome, wonderful guy I loved, so everything would work out and be awesome. Case closed. Right?
Saying yes to the man I loved wasn’t hard. But being okay with military life? That was tough. Really tough.
Without my career and the independence I had before, I felt worthless. I was lonely but didn’t know how to make friends in the four months before we had to PCS. I was doubting myself… a lot.
It took me some time to transition into living as a military spouse, but like any meaningful change, I learned a lot. Hopefully it can help you as you familiarize yourself with military life, too:
Military families live in a snow globe of awards and accolades. Our servicemen and women are called heroes while we’re dependents. The mission always comes first, even when birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are right around the corner. So yes, it can be easy to discount yourself, feel less than or not as important as. It can be easy to trivialize what you do—no matter what it is—because it’s not busting down doors or dealing with state secrets. Keep that crappy self-talk out of your head. You are valuable to your family and to your career. You have inherent worth.
Grow Outside of the Military
It’s okay to have friends and activities that take place outside the base’s gates. Believe it or not, your life does not have to be completely wrapped up in the military. (Unless you want it to be… then go for it!) Enjoy your interests and delve into them. And don’t feel guilty if they have nothing to do with the military.
Take Time to Explore
One of the coolest things about military life is the ability to travel and live in a bunch of places all over the world. Spend time in your new home exploring and discovering the nifty things your town has to offer. Find your favorite coffee shop and the best park to take the kids. Attend the parades and festivals. Eat the local specialties. You’ll be leaving soon, so don’t waste time!
Take Yourself Seriously
If you’re anything like me, you spent a little bit of time unemployed after you became a military spouse. Want to reenter the workforce? Spend time beefing up your resume, researching your options, and networking. This time doesn’t have to be wasted. Keep knocking on doors; one will open.
Appreciate This Season
At first, I felt like everyone was passing me by. I was restarting my career and parts of my life while my friends and colleagues were racing ahead, garnering awards and promotions. I was just… stuck. And it made me angry. As a hard-charger (which I’ve been my whole life), it was uneasy for me to feel like I was in a holding pattern. And so, I tried making a concerted effort to enjoy the here and now. I’m not always fantastic at doing this, but I’ve found that focusing on this particular season of our lives is much more productive than wishing it away.
If you had a tough time becoming a military spouse (or even if you didn’t), what helped you find your place in this lifestyle? Please share in the comments!