When we first started planning for my husband’s transition out of the military, I’ll admit, I thought I’d be further along than I am now. Not just in the getting acclimated arena (update: the only boxes left are in the basement and garage), but also when it comes to employment. After all, I spent the last two years working as a military-employment writer. I could practically draft articles about resumes and job interviews in my sleep.
As it turns out, the skills I’ve learned over the past two years as a writer for CASY & MSCCN made me a great job coach… for my spouse. I staged ambush-style interview questions while we ate dinner, watched TV, and walked the dog—he had to answer, or I refused to move (or let him have the remote). I lined up suit options, made a pre-interview spreadsheet to collect company information, and put encouraging notes in his suitcase when he flew out for follow-up interviews.
He landed a job in two months after almost a year of successful pre-planning—and that was great. We knew we’d have a steady paycheck, a new home, insurance, and he was excited about the work. Still is, as a matter of fact. But my own employment journey hasn’t looked like I’d planned.
Maybe that will be your story. If that’s your dream, I’m crossing all of my fingers and toes for you. Who knows—maybe your resume and career trajectory will be the trailblazer. After years of following your spouse from post to post, maybe you’ll be the one to get a job first and dictate a move (or staying in place). Or, maybe the next move will be about your education—maybe your spouse is looking for a job near the program you’ve applied to/gotten into (hooray!).
My story, however, has been different.
I kept up my work with CASY & MSCCN; I added an adjunct professor position less than five days before the semester began… and the campus was a forty-minutes away. I graded papers, wrote articles, assigned reading, and started teaching an internship. I got sick, I got better, I went home to my parents’ house for semester breaks when I could. And, at the end of the year, my grandmother died. It was unexpected, I was unprepared. I ended one year and began another heartbroken, adrift.
My husband finally came home, and I was barely holding it together. I wasn’t the same person I had been, and those employment plans didn’t seem to matter anymore.
For me, so much of this year has been about grieving and healing. I’m better than I was when 2018 began, but I’m still hurting. In January, I had too many nightmares to even think about dreams.
Ten months later, I’m starting to build dreams again, but they don’t look like the ones I had this time last year. And that’s okay. More than okay, I think it’s honest and hard and true.
If you’re on the other side of transition working in a job you love, I’m doing a happy dance on your behalf in my kitchen. In case you haven’t heard it lately: You’ve done a really hard thing. You are doing a great job. I’m so proud of you.
If you’re navigating your transition and its aftermath, feeling like you don’t know which way is up or what to do… Fear not. It will not be this way forever. Plans change, people change, dreams change, and we do the best we can where we are with what we’ve got. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Today, just look for one small action, one small decision that feels right in your gut. Rely on that to get you moving through tomorrow.
I believe in you. I believe in us. The future may not look how we planned it, but it’s still out there and we’re still here. We’re military spouses. We can make magic out of just about anything.
Story by Emilie Duck