I felt really overwhelmed after Taylor left. It is my first time going through a deployment and I had no idea where to start as silly as that sounds. How am I going to survive all these months? What am I supposed to do to pass the time? How do I go back to “normal” life again?
I never really thought I’d have the chance to go to Hawaii. I know it’s beautiful but my dad hates airplanes, family doesn’t travel much to begin with and it’s expensive so I never really had the urge or the means to go.
Enter Taylor, my boyfriend who chose Hawaii as his first pick of places to be stationed.
He told me a gallon of milk was about ten bucks a pop and I freaked out because if a stupid gallon of milk is that expensive how in the hell am I ever going to afford food, a plane ticket and a place to stay?
Some intense research and internet sleuthing taught me otherwise, however…
*For the safety of my sailor and his boat, there are no dates, locations or names posted. The article has been written and posted after his underway was long done and over. OPSEC for the win.
I have been very fortunate in the fact that, for the first two years of this adventure, I have been able to speak to my sailor on the daily minus bootcamp of course. I actually forgot what it was like to not speak to him for more than 24 hours. After he graduated from all of his schooling, he came home for a month of leave, left for his first duty station and shortly after came the first underway. For those of you that don’t know, underways are like mini deployments that only last maybe a month or two at most.
This was like bootcamp all over again. And it sucked. He said his goodbyes over text to me and that was it. So began the first underway.
When I graduated high school, I wanted to be a journalist and a photographer on the side. Maybe even a photojournalist. I wasn’t sure but all I knew was that I loved writing for the school newspaper and no other career path really intrigued me. So with barely 18 years on this earth, I took the plunge into what I was guessing I wanted to be my career for the rest of my life.
I went through the ups and downs of college and I found that with each passing week I began to hate my choice more and more. The real world newspaper industry was heavily different from my high school newspaper and I didn’t like what I was doing or what I saw. I did internships in an office setting where I sat from nine to five typing articles. Eventually, my love for words and the way they tasted painfully died and I no longer had any passion for what I once considered an art. MY art.
Then on graduation day, I all but snatched my diploma and ran out of there as fast as I could and vowed to never turn back. I didn’t cry because I would miss my friends or because I just made an incredible accomplishment. I cried because I wouldn’t have to hate what I was doing anymore. I didn’t want to look at another newspaper again. I didn’t pick up a book for pleasure anymore. My camera collected dust on the shelf.
My parents were confused and upset that all of a sudden I hated my degree, one that I had spent four years and a house’s worth of money for. Did I have a bad teacher? Did I have a really bad experience? Was I raped? Why did I all of a sudden hate the one thing I told everyone I wanted to do?
A month or two after I graduated, I found a kickboxing instructor position. It was a job I was excited about though I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time. I started kickboxing when I was a junior in high school and it was always something that I had loved. A few months into this new job and I realized how happy I was. I loved helping people and having a direct effect on their lives. I had a purpose, something I didn’t feel in college.
I decided to turn my life in a whole new direction and go after my personal training license. It was a decision my entire family was weary of and a decision that I was terrified of.
I didn’t care.
I went after it anyway and went full throttle towards my other dreams too. During college, I created His First Mate. This blog was something that was all my own creation. It has helped others and has saved me in its own way. No newspaper editor could trash it or change it. My writing and art was suddenly mine again.
So, every Sunday and Monday I would carry my backpack full of equipment and study the ways of the body and write for my blog. I spent countless hours in the same seat, at the same Starbucks, drinking the same drink but dreaming up all the new and fresh possibilities I now held.
A year flew by and now I’m the assistant manager at my job. Last week, I passed my personal training test. I photograph private events whenever I get the chance. Watching His First Mate grow is like watching your child grow. I created this thing and had no idea what I was doing and then one day I looked down and had this beautiful, ever-growing creation in front of me.
During college, I never thought this happiness was possible. So, take this advice and do what feels right in your life and everything will fall into place. My love for writing and photography has come back full force and has found its own place in my life. I am fulfilled every day I walk into my gym and coach people to becoming better than they were yesterday. And it is all because I followed what felt right for me.
Not what felt right for my teachers in school. Not for my parents or for any of my family or my friends. Just my own personal satisfaction.
Because, you see, life is short. People, young and old, sick or healthy, die every. damn. day. There is no shame in wanting to be a ballerina and an astronaut and then maybe a waitress. The way I see it, there is one life that I am sure of. One chance I have to experience and be everything that I want to experience and be.
Not one person on this earth is going to hold me back from that and no one should hold you back from that either.
Go be what you want and do what you want. If that means quitting your job that is making you unhappy or going back to school for something new then go do that. Maybe that means having three career paths and things that you love. Go live your life and don’t apologize for it.
It has always amazed me how the mind and the body react so closely to each other. This past week has completely turned my comfortable life upside down and while I knew I was stressed about it I didn’t realize just how stressed I was. Of course, I’d think about all stressful stuff but I was still feeling fine and still happy and healthy. And then I started to notice that I was gaining a bit of weight, I couldn’t go to sleep without taking a melatonin gummy and I couldn’t stay awake during the day without at least one cup of coffee if not more. Then things got really serious when my eye couldn’t stop twitching and then I got bumps on my tongue. Seriously…bumps on my tongue. Ew. Obviously, the stress was getting to me a little more than I thought.
For two years I have had more people than I can count ask me, “How do you do it?”
And I have never had an answer. I didn’t really know how, I just did.
But after two years of getting asked this question and then asking myself, “Yeah… how the hell do I do this?” on my car rides back home I have finally come up with the answer.
So, here it goes. The three things that you need to have in order to be a military girlfriend:
You’ve just spent this amazing few weeks with your SO filled with lots of love, companionship, laughter, fun-filled plans and parties. Then no sooner do they get back that you find yourself back at the airport waving goodbye with tear-soaked eyes and a snot-filled tissue in your non-waving hand. Then there is the drive home from the airport that you don’t really remember too much because of all the thinking you have done during that time. Then before you know it, you are standing in the front door of your house and you have no clue what to do.