My dad signed his enlistment contract over 20 years ago. Little did he know that this choice would end up shaping my personality and guiding my entire childhood. With the Army ruling above all, as it does in most Army households, my dad’s job came before everything else. I’ve moved between war zones, European cities, and American suburbs. I’m on my seventh move in my fifth country. I have dozens of close friends that I’ve lost contact with, even more that I still text often, and my boyfriend who lives ten thousand kilometers away.
My dad deploys every few years and is on TDY often. But when I think about my civilian friends and their stable lives, I get claustrophobic. The idea of staying in one place longer than three years makes me uncomfortable and triggers some type of anxious reaction. Maybe it’s just because of the Army habit, maybe it’s Maybelline, or maybe it’s that I would be unwilling to trade my transient lifestyle for anything.
Honestly, it makes a lot of sense why someone would assume I hate the way I live because of the Army. Trying to make somewhere a new home is a lot of work, as is making new friends and adjusting to different cultures. I could choose to just live in a house instead of a home, avoid investing in people at school, and live in ignorant bliss of the host nation culture by never leaving post. But the hard work is just part of the experience, and it becomes normal.
Then, I start to think about my future life, post-university. I don’t want to stop moving. Moving around the world has become a major part of my life; it’s like my body is on some sort of clock, and every two to three years I begin to get restless in my waiting for my dad’s PCS orders. Why would I stop traveling and pursuing a world far beyond what I can see out of my window on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that’s going to carry me to my family’s next duty station? Each step forward is a unique experience because no one has been where you are at that exact moment, experiencing that day in a new place.
Why would I give up this lifestyle? Why would I not put forth all my effort to maintain it, and continue pursuing this life myself? There is something to be said about having a hometown, and growing up there; going to school with the same kids for 13 years, knowing all your neighbors, and having memorized the map of your town. But it isn't something I have romanticized for myself; it's actually something that I desperately want to avoid. Looking into the future, all I can hope for is a life in which I will go further than I’ve been so far. I want to see South America and more of Africa and East Asia. I want to try fruits with names I can’t pronounce and learn languages spoken by few. I can’t do that if I don’t work specifically to get a job that will send me across oceans. Honestly, I can’t even see myself not moving. I simply just don’t know how to do it. It's the reason why I’ve put so much effort into finding a major that will guide me into a field where I can keep moving to insane places, meeting amazing people, and working in a field that suits all my strengths and passions.
Military kids grow up and move on, but the military ways that impacted their life will always be part of them. My future life and career will be living proof of that.