I am sorry my writing over the past couple of months has been so sporadic. I had every intention of starting a new series of posting and revamping the Townhall posts the first week of August, and then life happened.
I started writing this blog, because I wanted to challenge myself to start sharing my untold stories and to create a space where others could do the same.
For a long time now, for me those stories have centered around my journey with an evolving faith, my journey into adulthood, and coming to terms with my homeschooled and extremely conservative childhood.
Those will continue to be important stories and themes of which I will always want to write about and add my voice to. I can not separate myself from those stories and those aspects of my past, as they will forever be a part of me.
However they are not the only stories I have to tell.
As a writer, I was inspired to write bravely by authors like Brene Brown and Glennon Melton Doyle to share from a place of authenticity and vulnerability.
For me that means writing about what is real in my life, whether that be the past, present, or future.
So while I have focused a lot on my past and how it has impacted my present, daily life–I have began feeling a pull to incorporate more of my present life into my writing. An important part of this for me will be to start sharing more from my perspective and experiences of being a military spouse.
I have written in the past about how I have struggled with the tendency to find my identity in the roles I carry, rather than in who I am as a person.
This struggle, for me, has only become all the more apparent in my life as a military spouse.
It is often said that we don’t choose who we fall in love with. When I met this man already set on a path for at least a 20 year military career I had no idea where it would end up taking me and how his career would shape my life.
In our five plus years of being married and living in this military life — I have had many occasions where my spouse’s military career and its numerous demands have challenged everything I ever thought about myself, what I want, or what I thought I wanted from life.
Less than two months after being married, I found out we would be moving overseas in less than a year for a 3-4 year assignment. Prior to that all my plans had been based on us getting moved to a location where I hoped to graduate from college and subsequently attend law school and graduate school at the same time through a Joint JD/MPA program.
So when that didn’t happen, I adapted.
I was able to transfer colleges while we finished up training before leaving the country. My school proved to me their invaluable worth, when my advisor helped me find a way to finish my final semester abroad the fall after we moved to Japan. Despite my own death of dreams and fears about how I would develop a career, I soon fell in love with Japan. I started learning more about myself, about my faith, about how I could still develop my interests and passions through volunteer work, and also how I could continue my educational goals by choosing a school with an online program to gain my MPA.
While in Japan, I also realized another death or what felt like an inevitable change to my dreams. My desires for law school and a legal career came face to face with the hard reality that developing a joint legal career alongside an active duty military career is one of the most difficult ones to achieve as continual relocations create significant challenges in terms of state licensing and career progression. Even with these challenges, I would still have to win the Air Force lottery of locations to even be able to attend law school, unless I wanted to choose to live apart from my husband for three years. The first has yet to happen and the second, while considered has never felt like an achievable option as it continues to feel like an option that would rip my heart in two, leave me with considerable debt, and still not leave me with much of a guaranteed career to pay back that debt.
So when that didn’t happen, I adapted.
We were informed during our last year in Japan that my husband had been selected for pilot training and that we would be moving to a rural base in Oklahoma. Knowing full well that my masters program required me to complete an internship with a type of organization that would probably not be available in that remote location, I opted to start applying for internships early and chose to pursue completing one wherever I could get selected before we moved. As I have written before, that internship took me to Arkansas last fall, where I spent a semester apart from my husband completing that requirement. It was the first time that my career interests and educational needs meant me being the one to leave voluntarily, versus my husband’s job requiring it of us. Knowing now what that was like, the choice to do that for three years voluntarily for law school seems all the more impossible.
So internship completed, we reunited and moved to middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma.
My goals for this year here were to finish my masters, continue writing, and hopefully find some type of employment temporarily so I could begin to start putting something towards that inevitable student debt.
I have spent the past six months looking for part-time employment in our rather remote location to go along with my studies.
I found work substitute teaching, but quickly realized it would never pay enough even if I worked the full time I was allowed to.
I kept applying for every job that remotely connected to my experience and education.
So when that didn’t happen, I adapted.
In the past two weeks, I finally found some part-time retail work at a local department store.
I knew coming here that this location was temporary and would only have so much to offer.
Even with knowing that though, I have to confess I have still found myself so discouraged throughout this year.
I know that perspective and attitude and outlook are essential to fighting that discouragement, and yet I have had the hardest time finding them.
I have grown beyond frustrated that it has taken me this long to find employment. Add to that the fact that I had to find it outside of my normal areas of expertise, experience, and education felt like even more of a defeat.
I have found myself digging my way through self doubt, self-pity, and feeling guilty about situations and circumstances outside of my control. When I wasn’t struggling with those, I struggled feeling guilty about not being more grateful that having a job is better than not having a job, and that military spouses like me are not the only ones out there struggling to find employment.
So here I am again, adapting.
If I could share anything with other military spouses out there, or anyone like me who admittedly struggles with accepting change, it is this — learn to adapt.
Also know though that adapting is a process and for me it has never been a quick or easy one.
Learning to adapt for me has meant being willing to be brutally honest with myself and with those I am closest. It has required me to look beyond all that I am afraid of and feeling in the moment, to find a way forward one step at a time. It has meant finding a way to accept uncertainty and to admit I don’t have control, no matter how much I hate it or wish it to be different.
Learning to adapt has also taught me the incredible value of flexibility and creativity. If I had been unwilling to adapt or chosen to only, always see the negative downsides to choices made for me or unexpected change thrust upon me than I would have missed out on so much that life has already given me.
I would have missed out on amazing friendships, travel opportunities, or life experiences I never even dreamed would happen. I would destroy my loving and honest marriage with misery, silent resentment, and discontent. I would give up the beauty of an exciting future full of unknown possibilities for the momentary satisfaction and guaranteed certainty of what I think I need and want right now. As nice as that may seem given how illusive it really is with this lifestyle — if I am really honest I know that I would be downright bored with anything else.
This life challenges me to be all that I can be. It never lets me just settle for what is easy. When I encounter an obstacle, it teaches me to just dig deeper or look for a different way altogether. As a child my faith and community taught me to build a life filled with purpose and meaning. Turns out this military life gives me daily opportunities to do just that.
So with that, practically speaking, my blogging is also going to have to undertake some changes to adjust for my new schedule.
- I am going to be moving the Townhall posts to the weekend. They will now be coming out on Sunday morning. I will be starting those up again this coming weekend, so look for more details on that in the upcoming post. This allows for both scheduling convenience and I believe it will work better time-wise for readers to be able to peruse through the various links at their own leisure on the weekend.
- I am going to do my best to put out one original post a week. I wish it could be more, but I need to be realistic about my abilities and time available. This semester in particular will be putting the most demands on my academic writing skills I have experienced so far, as I will be completing the first draft of my thesis. Once that is complete though, I hope to have more time and brainpower to devote to my personal writing efforts here on the blog.
- I have some posts I have already started working on. For the rest of August I am going to be sharing some more thoughts and advice from my life as a military spouse. Then in September, I am going to start writing a new series on marriage and gender roles.
For those of you readers who are still with me despite how sporadically I write, or how much I overestimate and under deliver — thank you for your understanding and continued interest.