I’ll never forget how excited I felt as my husband (then fiancé) and I awaited our first set of PCS orders. We whittled down 70+ possibilities to a list of 5, knowing damn well Uncle Sam would send us wherever he saw fit. We were on our way to being newly minted adults. We were in love, moments away from graduating, and a heartbeat away from committing ourselves to each other in marriage. We were ready…to get the hell out of Dodge.
Well, call me naive and tattoo ‘newbie’ on my forehead, because our first PCS was the least adventurous part of my orientation to the real “adventure” of being a military spouse.
Nothing…nothing…absolutely nothing happened the way I envisioned in my daydreams…
The excitement of setting up our very first home together half way across the world? Dashed. Hubby left the country within 72 hours of my arrival for school. I was alone, furnitureless, jobless, friendless, and sick. That’s right…I got sick 72 hours after he left for school.
My desire to change the world one classroom at a time as a freshly trained teacher….did it happen? Nope. Couldn’t get a job as a teacher. Had to go back to the drawing board.
Bash around London…catch every single theatre performance I could scrounge tickets to? Nope. Ops tempo was through the roof…hubby started his Master’s degree…my evenings? Spent waiting in the car park hoping it would be an earlier night than the last that often ended with me asleep in the car despite my desperate attempts at not being caught drooling with my face pressed against the window.
It was hardly the adventure I’d imagined, but that first duty assignment taught me something very important about myself: I am an adventurer.
Channeling My Inner Military Spouse Adventurer
Alone and jobless in a foreign country were two things I never imagined for myself after college. Since teaching was out of the question, I had to go back to the drawing board- fast. Student loans were not going to pay themselves and I had NOTHING to do and NOBODY to hang out with.
I immediately started weighing all of my options and applied for any job that remotely related to education. My rule? If I qualified for at least 70% of the job requirements, I’d apply.
With hubby gone, I found myself at an impasse. Do I stay home and wait for him to come back so we could venture out together or do I go it alone and start getting my bearings? Once I recovered from my cold, I opted to branch out each day with a full tank of gas, charged mobile phone, and a new destination to explore.
Choose To Be An Adventurer
I can’t tell you how many times I found myself sitting…alone…in our house…feeling very, very sorry for myself. There were times I just didn’t think I’d ever find a job (which I eventually did), or that we’d ever have a normal weekend (which we did), or if I’d ever make friends (who I miss dreadfully).
And I’m so glad I didn’t let people’s opinions about our newest location scare me. It didn’t rain all the time, the food didn’t suck (it was amaze-balls…curry much?), and the people were absolutely fabulous (points if you get the reference). Oh, and roundabouts (read: traffic circles) rock. There, I said it.
If you want to really seize the day…live your best life or <insert whatever cliche that channels your inner Oprah>…you’ve gotta accept the fact that there’s always going to be stuff you can control and stuff you can’t.
The only thing you can control in your life is how you respond to each challenge.
So be an adventurer. Get down and dirty with whatever challenge you’re facing. Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled, live among the people, embrace the present moment, and, as my Dad would say, “kick ass and take names.”