After 3 years in a long-distance relationship, my military boyfriend and I made a big decision: I would move to the East Coast to join him at his current duty station. This decision carried a lot of weight for us. Obviously, it took us 3 years to pull the trigger. I was optimistic about the move and the transition to life as a military spouse, but there was one thing that gave me immense anxiety…
What would happen to my career?
I had all these career hopes and dreams, and up until that point, my plans were working out perfectly. I had a degree and a good paying job. It allowed me to afford a nice apartment close to all my friends and family. Happiness was a word I used to describe my life. The only thing missing was the part I loved the most: my boyfriend.
I chose love.
A hospital an hour from his current duty station hired me. I was so thankful despite the long commute to work. The career transition from Midwest culture to Southern culture was the biggest struggle for me, but I was on a mission of military spouse resiliency and adjusted fine after a few boo-hoo cry fests in the car with a candy bar. Okay…it was more than one candy bar, but who’s counting?
There were bumps in the road.
A few years later we were married. With a child. And my service member was leaving. Suddenly, the idea of trailblazing my military spouse career, working 12 hour days with a daily 2 hour commute and solo parenting wasn’t sitting well. I wanted to keep my job, but it wasn’t that simple. With my service member leaving, managing everything felt very overwhelming. Of course, we could make it work, but was the stress worth it? Three long talks with my husband, and we did what we thought was best: I officially quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom.
Soon I felt stuck.
Waking up in the morning as a stay-at-home parent was great. I loved being able to set our own schedule, and the flexibility it brought to our military life was amazing. Talk about a load off. But the longer I was out of the workforce, the more I seemed to feel stuck and isolated. I wanted something just for me that was purposeful and went beyond motherhood, but I didn’t know where to start. I chatted with a few friends about this, trying to cope, process and figure out a better way. Sitting at a friend’s house drinking coffee, my friend looked over to me and casually said, “You should just start a blog!” At first, I laughed at the idea. “Blogger” wasn’t ever a title I envisioned for myself, let alone a career path. Then one night after getting up with a baby at 3 am, I hopped on the internet and started to research.
How to overcome military spouse career challenges.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. I was about to start my own online business, and in 2 years it would become a full-time source of income for our family. If you are a military spouse and you feel overwhelmed by career challenges, do 3 things:
Open your mind to new possibilities.
Not just the possibilities you see right in front of you, but the possibilities you haven’t discovered yet. Research all sorts of different options. You never know what career, hobby, or volunteer opportunity will change your life. I never would’ve tried entrepreneurship if it wasn’t for military life. In a way, military life forced me to take risks and try things that would’ve otherwise remained an afterthought.
If you think it won’t work, try it anyways.
An American businesswoman once told me the greatest failure is not trying. Allow yourself the opportunity to really try something, even if you think it won’t work out yet. It’s hard to know unless you experience it fully. I always tell people that I worked for free for over a year creating, building and nurturing my at-home business before it started to take off.
Ask for help, even if it’s hard for you.
Significant changes arise throughout military life, but overcoming those obstacles and emerging victorious is possible with the right help and support. Reach out to your family readiness officer, local spouses, and on-base community for volunteer and resource opportunities that may help you network and find employment leads at your local duty station. Each day I spend about an hour talking with others and building genuine relationships. If it wasn’t for networking, my business would’ve never succeeded.
It takes a village.
While we need to support each other as military spouses, we also need to support positive outcomes in our veterans. Every day, America’s veterans achieve personal victories overcoming challenges great and small. DAV (Disabled American Veterans) is a nonprofit organization that is on a mission to help veterans succeed after military service and get the benefits they were promised. Each year, they help more than one million veterans of all generations in life-changing ways. Visit DAV.org to learn more and see more stories of veterans achieving their victories. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of DAV. The opinions and text are all mine. While I am proud to support DAV and their mission, I have not been a beneficiary of DAV services.
Want more on military life?
- Military Spouse Jobs That Work for You, Not Against You
- Military Life and Money: How to Keep Your Financial House in Order
- For Every Military Spouse Who Tried Direct Sales
- 10 Things Military Spouses Don’t Need to Do Anymore