I cannot count the number of times I have been asked, “What would you tell your younger self?” Unless Michael J. Fox plans to lend us a DeLorean, it seems pointless to play around with what-ifs and what-should-have-beens. Instead, it would be much more productive for me to share – out loud – the glaring lesson I learned about what truly makes for a satisfying military life journey: having something that is solely for you.
Sure, our community is as diverse as it is similar. But there is one definite commonality amongst us all. We married men or women who in their late teens or early 20s set off on a structured career path equipped with benefits, growth potential and transferable skills that employers value whenever that uniform is hung up for good. On the other hand, we – the military spouses of this current generation – often have a differing experience. We encounter detours and roadblocks on the way to becoming what we want to be when we grow up. We all know the most likely reasons for those hardships because we talk about them all the time; the moving, the unpredictable deployment or training schedules and the demands of being the primary caretaker for the family we build.
We have absolutely zero control over those named obstacles – they are part of the fabric of our life. I believe that while it is not a straightforward path to our goals, it is vital for your self-worth that you define something valuable to work on for yourself. What do I mean by that? Whether it is chasing a degree or finding a job that gets you out of the house, building a career or taking a fitness class on base, spouses need some outlet to go after their ambitions. And luckily, the organizations who have taken on the mission of supporting this community know this – and they’re committed to making it happen.
This is where the upcoming Virtual Military Spouse Symposium comes in. Here’s what we know: Military spouses connect online. So, the Department of Defense’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program, or SECO, decided to meet us where we are by bringing innovative speakers direct to our computers. You don’t even need to leave your house. I can almost guarantee you will find something on the agenda that either aligns with what you already know to be your “thing” or ignites an interest you didn’t know you had.
Some of the topics include:
- Cooking demonstrations for aspiring chefs (or spouses who want to change up meals at home)
- Leveraging LinkedIn to connect with actual hiring managers
- Tips on moving a career across duty stations
- Starting a business
Those are just a few of the topics that stand out to me from the four-day event happening May 15-18. Look, nobody disputes that loving someone with a demanding job often means your dreams and goals get a little tougher to accomplish. Yet there are so many underutilized resources (yes, I used the buzzword) to get you to your finish line. But they only work if we give them a try. Here’s homework: Go check out that agenda, think about what interests you in this season of your life and register. It is free. Give yourself a shot!