“So, what do you do?”
It inevitably comes up in conversations over and over again. Typically, it happens when you
b) get new neighbors
c) join a new group or community
d) are settling into a new command or unit
“Oh, well I’m just…”
Just what? Just rocking a professional career while moving every 3 years? Maybe you’re “just” reinventing yourself at every duty station. Or you’re “just” killing it while raising children (or fur children) during back-to-back deployments. I bet you’re “just” staying sane in this military life.
Let’s all agree to stop saying “just.”
Using the word “just” when we talk about ourselves or explain what it is we do demeans us. It makes it seem like what we, military spouses, do all day long isn’t important or worthy. It’s “just”…meh.
The work we do, wherever and whatever that is, is important. It’s what keeps life moving and keeps the home fires burning. There is no “just” about it.
Seriously, think about what you accomplish in 1 day, 1 week, 1 month or even 1 year. I’ll share some of what I did:
Today: I fed my kids, wrote this article, cleaned up dog puke and didn’t lose my cool.
This week: I had a baby with minimal drama or trauma. For this I am thankful.
This month: I taught 20 4th graders, transitioned in a new classroom teacher, did the grading, published my writing, managed my own blog and didn’t totally lose my mind.
Last year: I handled an OCONUS PCS like a boss, started a new job, made advances as a writer, parented a preschooler and ran 2 half marathons. And did most of that while pregnant.
None of that “just” happened. I worked hard for each and every thing that I have done.
Military personnel don’t “just” their accomplishments.
Have you ever heard a sailor talk about how she “just” handled a long cruise? A Marine didn’t “just” finish an epic hump over rough terrain? Soldiers haven’t “just” gotten that patch. And airmen don’t “just” fly the aircraft.
No, instead they brag on themselves. They compare battle stories and share how awesome they are at their jobs.
Military spouses? Not so much.
Instead, we downplay how much we do.
“Oh, it was just a year-long unaccompanied tour. Yeah, the kids were a handful, but we got through it.”
In 2 sentences, this military spouse has sold herself short. I mean, have you ever tried to solo parent multiple children for a lengthy period of time? It’s super hard!
“I just run my own business.”
This is not a “just” situation. You’re doing all of the things, all by yourself. This is cause for celebration and major bragging!
Surviving military life can be hard. Between the moving, the distance from our families, our kids and trying to keep it together professionally, it can be a lot.
It takes work, especially when we are flying solo a decent percentage of the time. Instead of curling up in little balls, we handle it.
The kids get fed and clothed, dogs are walked and our jobs get done. These things don’t just happen, like small daily miracles. We plan, we prep and we push forward daily.
There is no “just” about it!
Adding a “just” when you explain your life, your job or your passions makes it seem like it was easy. Own that hard work! Talk about how you are juggling school, deployment and volunteering. Share your advice about getting into shape or making your career work for you.
You can be an expert.
Military life is built on a network. We rush to social media to get the scoop on the next duty station. We shared blog posts, entertaining memes and find mutual friends.
When you “just” your interests or work, you might miss opportunities to grow or help others.
There might be an amazing position out there, but you won’t hear about it because your downplayed your experience. You could be helping another spouse get ahead, but no one knows what you do.
A little bragging can open so many doors!
You’re not a “just.”
You are amazing! Don’t “just” yourself. Own your success and brag on yourself a little bit.
Next time you get asked what you do, answer with pride. Explain exactly what it is you do and own it.
“I’m a lawyer and I’ve passed the bar in 3 states!”
“I teach and I’m working toward my master’s degree.”
“I’m a parent. I make sure that our lives run smoothly no matter where we are living.”
Even when you’re talking about non-employment related life stuff, leave the “just” out of it.
Nobody “just” runs long distances. You’ve trained really hard for those races.
You don’t “just” create beautiful drawings. That’s a skill you’ve practiced for years to hone those skills.
It’s not “just” volunteering with the unit. You’re making a difference in your community!
Let’s all agree to own our awesomeness. Leave that “just” alone.