This past week I turned 24. I thought long and hard the night before my birthday contemplating my life – where I am now, compared to where I saw myself five years ago. Wouldn’t I be knee deep in the beginning stages of a job, working my way up to a solid foundation of a rewarding and professional career? Wouldn’t I be planning out the ideal time to start a family? Wouldn’t I feel just a little more stable?
It seems that my life has turned out to be nothing what I envisioned it to be. There is no career, no concrete plans to continue growing as a family with my husband, and no feelings of stability. Deciding to marry my husband was simple. But having to withstand the lifestyle that I ultimately married into has been challenging. And though we are just in the beginning stages of a possible deployment, the hardest part thus far has been the unknown.
Like I have written so many times before, while the unknowns can stir some excitement, it also makes planning your life impossible. The unclear future has kept me from seeking out a career, and the inconstant time spent separated from my husband has kept us from starting a family. But most significantly, the foreseen future of the military downsizing has me fearing the possibility of becoming financially unstable for the long haul. All of these conditions on top of a possible deployment have done nothing but add more gray hair than any 24-year-old should have.
Being a military spouse has dictated a lot of my life choices, and it is all extremely new to me still. While I am trying to figure out my footing as a military spouse, I am slowly learning how to navigate a future, finally. But the truth is my life revolves around my husband’s career at this point. For example, I have decided I would like to go back to school and attain a Master’s degree in a profession I deem satisfying. But personally I cannot take on this huge financial burden until I know for sure my husband will indeed have a career as a Marine Officer. And this will not be determined until next year. With the cuts the military is taking, the fear of my husband losing his job is extremely real. This one, very important decision the Marine Corps will make has ultimately put my life on hold. And I know I am not the only military spouse dealing with this fear.
As spouses we have chosen to give up some aspects of our own lives in order to move on with our active duty husbands or wives. We are devoted, proud and brave. We adapt our lives to fit into the lifestyle our spouses have afforded us, and we do so with little hesitation out of love. We join a sort of family with units and bond through deployments. We have adopted the military lifestyle as our reality and have become accustomed to the little annoyances it can bring. For some, the military is all they know. To fear losing everything we have worked to get through and accept as reality while the military makes significant cuts is tough. For some the unknown future of their spouses’ career means putting their life on hold. For others it may mean sacrificing some things, while looking into future endeavors for work. Either way, it is an added stress that is now associated with the military lifestyle. And though these cuts are needed to preserve our military, it is sad to watch those who have given up so much, lose it all.
So while I wait to see what the future has in store for us, I can only enjoy this time with my husband and those friends I have made through the Corps. I have accepted the fact that my life is on hold for a bit and will pick back up sometime soon. Perhaps pursuing a career by continuing school and planning to have children are in our near future. But until then, I am concentrated on my husband and his needs for his career during this crucial time. Maybe age 25 will be the magic year where my life will begin to take off.