US Air Force, Third Generation Female
Nov 06, 2017
The funny part is I didn’t realize the significance of my blog title until a couple months ago. To me, it’s normal for women to put on the uniform and serve their country. However, when I took the uniform off and became a military spouse, then stay at home mom, I quickly discovered I was an odd duck.
The background of my journey is quite rare and sounds REALLY exciting on paper. My Gran was in the service. My mother served and retired from active duty. Then I became a Combat Veteran. 3 generations of women serving their country, very neat and special.
But the novelty of our family history wore off when I chose to take off the uniform. As I stepped out of the only reality I’d ever known and into the civilian realm, the world took on a whole new perspective. The new battleground was more foreign to me than a makeup counter at Macy’s. I was absolutely lost. And you could say some days I still am. However, I have learned to navigate the civilian world in a healthy way.
One of the first steps was to acknowledge my odd duck history. As a military brat and combat veteran, I was not your typical military spouse, community volunteer, or homeschool mom. The first 5 years out of uniform I kept trying to fit in and find ways to be more like the people around me; however, as you can imagine, it never quite worked. Finally, I decided there had to be another way.
Before we continue, let’s take a moment and acknowledge the elephant in the room. It can be difficult for others to relate to you, which can unknowingly build a barrier between you and the other person. These barriers become an issue as we forge relationships in our new environment while still discovering the next chapter to our life. During the initial “discovery process” we may still root our identity in our prior service and want to share it with others. Since we are a minority, our military service can be difficult for people to *chat* about in normal everyday conversation. And that’s okay. I’m going to provide some ways I’ve been able to navigate around those barriers and discover healthy, meaningful relationships in my civilian chapter.
As prior servicewomen, how can we overcome these natural barriers? I’ve found a few habits to help me process the isolation and intentionally build worthwhile relationships.
1. Make it about them.
In social situations, it helps for me to ask questions about others and what’s happening in their lives. If there ends up being silence in the conversation I leave it be, rather than trying to create a connection beyond small talk.
2. Find women you truly connect with.
We are not meant to be friends with everyone; therefore, be choosy and spend time with those who help you be the best version of yourself. If you are uncomfortable or insecure around someone, allow them to be an acquaintance. There’s no reason to seek more and in turn, no reason for you to feel obligated to make a friendship work when the chemistry is not present.
3. Lead in an area of your expertise.
This habit has been key for my personality. In the beginning, this meant volunteering in church and has now expanded to building a business. I’ve found it really important to discover an outlet for my experience and knowledge to be tested and improved upon. This helps me feel valuable and find a place in the world.
Being a woman in the military is rare. Then to step into the civilian world and look like every other female, even though you’ve traveled a different journey, can be difficult to process. If you’re feeling isolated, I encourage you to send me an email. Reach out. I’d love to get to know you and hear your story. Sometimes it’s good to know we aren’t alone and what we have experienced in the past was real.
I look forward to hearing from you!
If you have a female friend in the military, or prior service, who is struggling with civilian reintegration, please share this note with them.
One of my joys is being able to show women how to streamline their days so they can leave a legacy. Another passion is adventuring with my 3 littles in princess quests and epic dragon battles while pursuing an 80+ year marriage with my supportive husband. The online space has become a great journey and I’m delighted to be here with you all .