Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Picture credit: My mom made this for a KinderJam blog.
Alright, here's a disclaimer: This article is kind of depressing because I got really emotional while writing it, but that's life. If you're looking for something to relate to on a personal level, this is for you. If you're already sad, mad, or "smad" about your life and want to be cheered up, I would suggest reading another article. Happy reading!
“Freedom isn’t free - thank a military child”. This quote is inscribed on a wooden plaque hanging above the couch in my living room. Underneath the phrase, there is a picture of my three-year-old brother holding hands with my dad who is in his flight suit going to the airport for a six-month deployment. This quote means a lot to me because it symbolizes the fact that even though I am a free American citizen, the military still has a degree of control over my life. The military decides where I live, what I eat, and who I meet. (Hey, that rhymes!) The greatest challenge that I have ever faced in my 15 (almost 16) years as a “military brat” is that I will never come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to settle down anywhere permanently.
I’m 15 years old (Almost 16!) and have moved eight times (five duty stations in the 'States and three overseas, counting Hawaii). It’s the same process, a cycle, over and over again: find a home, get comfortable there, make friends, the military orders you to get up and leave, say goodbye to friends, and leave everything you've ever known for the past two or three years. I am planning to enlist in the military after high school, not because of stable health care or to pay for college, but because I can’t fathom a life where I stay put in one place for too long.
I have been conditioned by my lifestyle to want to move. I have been conditioned to think, “I'd better not get too attached to this person because they aren’t in the military." I have been conditioned to pick and choose my friends based on how long they are staying at the base I am currently stationed at. I will be graduating at my current duty station and I have found myself actively seeking out kids my age who are staying as long as I will. I have met people who haven’t moved a day in their life and wonder what my life would’ve been like if I hadn’t been born a military child.
The greatest challenge I have ever faced as a military child is coming to the realization that I will always have the urge to move - that I will always have the feeling of wanting to go and reinvent myself as someone new, which gets exhausting quickly. I will always have the urge to go to a new place and completely abandon my old life because someone told me to. “Freedom isn’t free - thank a military child”. Freedom is never free because there is always someone else in control of what happens in your life.
P.S. - This is my response to a prompt provided from an essay contest that I remembered out of blue at like 1 a.m.
While the team at Bloom certainly understands the struggles of being a military teen, we are by no means equipped or qualified to offer assistance or counsel. If you or a loved one is feeling "smad" or is suffering from trauma or abuse, we encourage you to talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult. Additionally, you can check out our Resources page for different places you can go to seek mental health help. Remember, you are not alone.