You check off the little boxes. In order. Semi on time. College. Travel. Good job. Marriage. Babies.
Then I married a soldier. Suddenly everything seemed like chaos. Beautiful, frightening, chaos.
While I sometimes say getting married caused me to forgo my ambitions for a corporate job, I have to wonder now if that is really true. I loved aspects of it but was that really the direction in which I would have found my happiness?
I loved the idea of dressing up for a day at the office. To be honest, I loved the idea of feeling important. Respected. Feeling like I played an integral part and I could talk the talk and walk the walk. But would I have been happy with that lifestyle? Well yes. In fact, at the time it was all I could imagine.
Was that me? Maybe. It used to be. Are there times I miss it? Sometimes.
I loved walking into a meeting in our business college’s boardroom and having my own name plate at a seat for some function or another. Leading meetings for my scholars group or the Dean’s Student Advisory Board while I served as President. Attending strategy retreats, private lectures or alumni events and being known as someone with great potential. That was an incredible time of my life. My friendships and lessons learned are invaluable.
And for a bleak, stagnant time, I wondered if that would ever be me again.
But for what it’s worth….
Would I change anything about the way my life has turned out and the path I’ve been on?
Because not only am I realizing I can still walk the walk and talk the talk from where I’m currently at, I’m part of a unique, generous, motivated community that brings such richness and joy to my heart, I have trouble fully explaining it. Everything I did before, I can STILL do.
Those moments of feeling so alive and in the moment have shifted away from the young, shallow glimpses of success I had for myself and developed into something deeper, stronger, and for the greater good of those around me.
How do we measure success in life? Truly.
I could never have imagined the turns my life would take once I left my childhood home behind.
I adore my home. It is where I learned about the fragility of life, found love with the boy on the next mountain over, and created enough memories and family traditions to make Norman Rockwell want to come hang out at my parent’s. It’s where I return multiple times each year when I need to refuel and draw a deep breath of grounding peace and cherished family time.
Looking back at the past three years of marriage has me reeling in the amount of growth I’ve had. Oh sweet, naive, college student. I was fresh from business school, spouting out buzzwords, determined to not be a “cliche military wife”. (Ummm, what does that even mean??)
I was riding such a high. I graduated from my university with three degrees, manga cum laude. My internship had turned into a full-time job and I enjoyed it each day while I planned my wedding and shared a little one bedroom apartment with my sister.
We married, moved to Georgia, honeymooned in Ireland, and settled into our new life.
I had quit my job just prior to my wedding because it wasn’t going to translate into remote work and I’d be 3000 miles away from that specific office.
My husband’s main concern regarding work for me was that I was happy. There was no rush to find a job. His career was stable and could provide us with a good life. After years of stress and the need to succeed, I welcomed the idea of spending time with my husband and figuring out what it was that actually made me happy. I took a writing class, started cooking more (probably not brag worthy cooking), and thrived on southern food and hiking adventures.
Occasionally, when I would check in with old friends, I’d get a twinge of sadness as they talked about their work travels, new positions, or how their company was paying for grad school. Most of them had no clue what the military life entailed and I felt a need to talk it up, least they judge it or think I was unhappy. I see now how insecure I was.
I was so caught up in the fact that I didn’t go work for a Fortune 500 company like the majority of my peers, that I allowed bitterness to scratch away at my heart. There were times I would have to actively stop thought spirals that led to bitterness and sadness about my current, non corporate, ordinary career path.
It has been a LONG journey but I think the turning point for me was having my son. There is something about having a baby that is like a bucket of water to the face.
Probably in more ways than just one.
I think people expect that you’ll slow down when you have a baby. There is a stigma in our society in regards to children and careers. For me though, THIS was the clarity and motivation I had been craving. This sweet, little, squishy, human made me want to be better. To do better. To be an example to him and future siblings of hard work and putting family first while still crushing my goals.
I don’t have it figured out.
But what I do have is an inner peace that would make my college self drop her jaw. At the same time I have an itch, a need to continue to pursue my passions. Some days that’s contemplating how I will create a company and other days I channel it into cleaning and decorating my house. And I LOVE that I don’t have to choose or feel guilty.
Working from home these past three years has been life giving to my soul! I can be creative, work flexible hours, and succeed, even if my path is far different than the cookie cutter career path I once drooled over.
There is so much joy and entrepreneurial spirit waiting to burst forth. I want to write a book (oh, so badly), start a business, and use my creativity every day in a way that brings my family closer to each other and closer to God.
It’s not just about me anymore and my perception of what society expects from me. Now it’s about believing in myself and my talents and figuring out how to use them for the betterment of my whole family.
I don’t fully know what’s coming, friends. But something is.
I welcome all of your mentorship and support. I have so much to learn and focusing in on my next step sometimes seems daunting.
I’m grateful for everyone who continues to push me and believe in me.
We can’t live our best lives without each other.
And we are all, ALL, called to live our best life.