Seven years ago, when I graduated high school, I was off to college with big plans and even bigger dreams. Now here I am, writing an article that I never thought I’d have to type up. My, how plans change.
In another life, my world would be completely different. I would have gone through college without a care in the world. I would have married my husband once I graduated, and after that I would have started my career as an officer in the U.S. Army. I would spend a good twenty years in active duty, retire, and live a comfortable life as a writer.
When people ask me how I met my husband, I usually just say “in college.” Sometimes, if they press, I give them the abbreviated story: He was a year ahead of me, a sophomore, and I met him while we were both in Army ROTC. We got married when he commissioned. No, I didn’t commission. Why not? they ask.
“I got injured,” I tell them. “I couldn’t run anymore.” Cue sympathetic looks and me dismissing them. It’s ok, it all worked out fine.
What did happen? I went to college on a 4-year Army ROTC scholarship. I struggled at the beginning to pass the run on my PT test – I was a distance runner, but I was never fast. After a hard semester of work, I managed to skate by and pass the test, and I was contracted a week later. It was a shining moment for this young college freshman. I continued to struggle with my run, but still, I skated by. By the end of the year I began dating my future husband and life seemed good.
While training for the Bataan Death March, I was running down a hill in Army boots, and I felt a pain in my left foot. I limped back to my car. That entire weekend, I could barely walk on that foot, and I finally saw a doctor a couple days later. It was a stress fracture. Ok, no big deal, I rested, took the medicine, and it should have been better.
By the time the stress fracture healed, a new problem cropped up. After fighting through the immense pain from my feet shooting up my legs, I saw a podiatrist, who diagnosed me with having plantar fasciitis. It was a bad case. I did physical therapy, I wore inserts, I had a cast on one foot for a month to try and stabilize it – I did it all. It eventually came down to surgery. A month and a half before my wedding (now at the end of my junior year), my left foot was operated on. That summer, my right foot. Once it was healed up and I could run again, it seemed fixed, but then it went downhill again. Pain, pain, pain.
At the end of my senior year I was let go from ROTC and the Army based on a medical problem. I had had the most stressful four years of college and I was feeling it. I was ready to get out of there and get on with my life. My plans had shattered. I had been banking on graduating from college and joining the Army. I had a degree in History, for goodness sake! I had been holding on to hope and hadn’t been looking at a backup plan.
Thank goodness for my husband. He carried me through and continues to help me pursue other endeavors.
Now, this story could end on such a sad note, but I don’t want it to, because my story hasn’t ended terribly for me. Once I recovered from the shock of my big plans changing, I looked at the positives. Now, we weren’t going to be a dual military family. We would probably have been deployed at two separate times. Yeah, we aren’t making as much money, but we’re okay with that. What about our daughter? Would we have had children when we did? I’m so grateful to have the ability to stay home with her and watch her grow. We can be a family together, the three of us, without the Army getting in the way. Also, now I can pursue my passions, the ones I planned to put on hold until a better time.
In another life, we would’ve been a dual military family, but you know what? I like this life I have now. I’m glad it turned out the way it did. Plans change and I’m learning that it’s okay to let them.