by Karen Poisson, Guest Contributor
Before Al Franken, was the Minnesota senator we know today, he was a comedy writer and performer on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s. He created a character named Stuart Smalley who would look in the mirror during his self-help show and tell himself,
“I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me!”
On SNL, it was a joke but it seems to me that military spouses should adapt this mantra into their daily lives.
I Am Good Enough
Sometimes we get caught up in our role as a “military spouse.” It’s easy to forget that you are more than just a spouse. That kind of thinking is along the same vein as saying that you are “just a stay-at-home parent.”
We as spouses have to reinforce the belief that being a military spouse is only one facet of our lives.
It is your choice if you want to participate in any aspect of military life. Remember that you are a part of a bigger world out there too. Pick and choose what works for you.
Initially, as a stay-at-home mom, it was hard to take this saying to heart. I didn’t feel worthy of the title I felt I’d been given. My impression of military spouses was that they were go-getters who were very active at their installations.
I was a newlywed and a new mom all at once. My focus was on my child and not my husband’s career. With deployments and long hours, I wanted to spend my time with my husband when he was home. If I did go to an event, I felt like a fish out of water since I didn’t have a clue about what was happening nor did I know people there. Then I panicked because I thought I was hurting my husband’s career since I wasn’t an active member of the spouse’s group. I was giving myself ulcers because I believed that I was a detriment to him.
None of that was true.
Once I learned the real story, I still had to tell myself on a daily basis that I was good enough. I am good enough as a military spouse, mother and human being.
I Am Smart Enough
It’s common knowledge that we are thinking, sentient beings. With that knowledge comes the ability for us to make choices and attack problems.
It doesn’t matter what level of education you’ve reached or where you grew up.
It doesn’t matter if you use your head or your heart.
It doesn’t matter if you make lists or flip coins.
The important factor is that a choice is made and that it’s the best option for you.
There may be multiple times in your service member’s military career where you have to make a choice about living arrangements; an unaccompanied tour or deployment orders might be in your future.
You might initially feel incompetent but you are smart enough to know which answer works for you.
Once you’ve made that decision, don’t regret it. It was the best solution for you and/or your family.
I’ve met families who have chosen to stay behind at a location for the betterment of the children. Others have followed their military member to their new installation no matter where it was in the world. Or there are individuals who remain in one place for their job while the military spouse moved.
You know what works for you and you shouldn’t apologize for it. You can listen to advice but don’t let others tell you what is the correct outcome. You have researched your options and have chosen; you are smart enough.
And Doggone It, People Like Me
We all want to be accepted and to be liked. A first impression is important but there is also a second step that occurs – conversation.
A friend of mine married her service member when she was in her 30s. She was a successful businesswoman and yet the first time she met the commanding spouse of her husband’s squadron, she was tongue-tied and not sure how to act. Later, she said that she felt silly at being overwhelmed at the meeting. All she really wanted was to meet the other spouse and have a nice chat.
There is a validation that occurs when you talk to another person. What you need to remember is that the other person is just another human being like you. There is no visible barrier that needs to be broken.
The other side of this coin is that not everyone likes everyone else. And that’s OK.
You like pistachio ice cream and I like chocolate chip.
You love military functions and I just want to stay home and eat that chocolate chip ice cream.
Differences make the world go round and if you accept this premise, your life will change for the better. Overall, I think the general public prefers when individuals are themselves and not pretending to be someone they’re not.
Let that real self shine through; people will like you!
So if you need to look in that mirror and see the genuine you, do it! If you don’t need that physical reminder, you can just repeat the buzzwords over to yourself:
“I’m good enough. I’m smart and enough. And doggone it, people like me!”
That’s because it’s accurate and they are the perfect words to live by in this year of you.
Karen is a part-time ESL teacher and a full-time military spouse. She’s been in this military game so long that her kids are away at college, leaving only the four-legged type at home. She’s moved 12 times including one overseas tour and now she’s ready for her next PCS adventure!