I’ve written a few times this year, to reminisce on a year in San Diego, losing our rescue mutt, getting laid off, and how I’m doing in 2020; however, I want to touch on the following: I have no idea what I am going to do next in life, and that’s totally OK.
Let’s jot down the factors that are leading to that notion:
- There’s a pandemic
- I am a military spouse, and my husband is deployed
- We are moving to Hawaii sometime in 2021
- I volunteer for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
- I hold a board position for my command’s Family Readiness Group (FRG)
- I have enjoyed exploring some cool projects, like my podcast
- I am working on my mental and physical health
- I am raising a puppy by myself
- For once in my life, I don’t dread Mondays
The pandemic has given me so much time to think, marinate, and reflect. It’s also given me much-needed space to heal, and let go. Now, as I have had the much-needed time to balance my life out, I am realizing what’s most important to me.
For 10 years I have marketed for people’s companies, products, and ideas. I’ve called the shots, and I have also had the shots called for me. I’ve been expected to be a jack of all trades, and master them all. I have been an entire marketing department more times than I can count, expected to be the expert in every single area of a campaign. As a millennial in the workforce, this is exhausting. The fragility and replacement of marketing departments is nothing new. If the money goes, the marketing department goes.
Maybe I just haven’t found the right company, or the right job yet. Perhaps I am in the totally incorrect work field, or maybe my calling has yet to be discovered. Regardless, I am admitting that it is OK for me to say that I do not have it all figured out, and do not know what my next chapter holds.
This year has taught me a lot. One of the biggest things is that as a military spouse I am severely underserved in the workforce, and seen as temporary. While I am not unique in being a spouse, I have a big heart for every family member in a service household. Being a spouse is not easy, and it is something I have shied away from associating myself with for the previous sentiments.
In many ways, there are sadly only so many paths you can go down as a spouse. Suffice to say, many spouses are extremely educated and have had brilliant careers before the military pulled them away from them. The paths are as follows: you can be married to your spouse, and sacrifice all of your liberties for their career (as many of us do), you can choose to have children and stay at home, you can get sucked into a Pyramid Scheme, or you can be married to your career and your partner.
I used to believe that as soon as an employer knew I was a military spouse, it’s over and done with. While, a totally negative way to think about things, it’s not always the case. I have had many seasoned spouses give me amazing advice over the last few years. Most recently, this nugget from my captain’s wife helped me reframe my state of mind.
“Never think of yourself as temporary. You being a spouse makes you an asset. Why see it as a weakness, when it only means you’re a harder worker willing to make a bigger splash for the time in which you are there. When I see a spouse, I see someone capable of so much.”
In falling in love with someone in the military, I never questioned that I’d be able to find work wherever I go. For me, I always thought I would be employable. That perhaps Denver was the tough market, and that San Diego would be a brighter future. In a lot of ways, I do believe that San Diego really did open a lot of doors for me. For an entire year of the two years, we will be here, I was employed steadily. I did some awesome stuff, met a lot of cool people, and even purchased a home; however, a pandemic happened, and here we are.
These days, I am realizing more and more that the piece of me I tried so hard to hide and disassociate myself with has ultimately become a far greater part of me than I had ever imagined. That the respite I thought I would feel at my previous employer, and with my coworkers when my husband deployed was not correct. Instead, it has come in the form of my military community.
If you are not someone who has had a loved one or family member in the military, perhaps you won’t understand just how much harder this year has been for military families. I know it is hard for everyone, but my liberties were tightened to protect my husband. If I got him sick due to willful negligence, it could have been horrible for his entire department, or ship. While I saw the rest of the world go back to what they were doing before “safe and socially distanced” in May/June time, I would agonize over whether or not both of us should go grocery shopping, or if we could go anywhere without fear of running into anyone in the command.
So, when you add a deployment on top of the pandemic, it makes things even more isolating. I don’t even know where to begin talking about it, so I don’t want to give it space in this post. I am strong, resilient, and can get through this; however, with a move looming on the horizon, I am overwhelmed with the possibility of the future.
There is one really bright ray of hope in my life right now, which has been my volunteering for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. When I volunteer for them, I am directly helping active duty Navy, Marines, and their dependents. When I volunteer, I know I am making a difference, which has led me to think about what I want next for myself in a career.
My next role, wherever it may be, must uphold many of the values that I firmly believe in:
- It will not see military spouses as temporary
- It will have something to do with the government or military
- It will make a difference greater than it’s sum, meaning that it will not be a gigantic for-profit organization
- It will understand veterans, active duty service members, dependents, and their community
So while I have no idea what I am doing next, I do have an idea of where I’d like my ship to sail. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what I do next, so long as I have my husband in my court cheering me on. He is worth every single sacrifice.