Six Reasons to ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY Appreciate Being a Military Teen
Notice the title of this article. When preparing to write this at 12:16 at night with a cup of tea and Flavor Blasted Goldfish, I was planning on having the word "love" where "appreciate" now stands. But, how insensitive would that be? How could I turn a blind eye to all the friends I've left, the states I've loved, the schools that most benefited me, and the hard lessons learned?
Instead I chose the word "appreciate" because not only am I a glass-half-full kind of girl, but I also believe in and recognize the many blessings being a military kid has brought me. In the case that you struggle with finding these things, allow me shine a light on a few I thought up.
1) Stories and experiences (This is the obvious one your parents have probably told you three gazillion times.)
As a military kid, I have always found it easier than other kids during that awkward, embarrassing time in August and September when a teacher asks everyone to introduce and say one unique thing about themselves. Which should I pick? The fact that I've moved eleven times in under fourteen years? Maybe that time I got to see the president up close. Or how about the fact that I've been to every U.S. state (expect Alaska) and fifteen European countries?
Being a military kid, if anything, will earn you unique experiences and stories. If you aren't retelling these stories to a room full of classmates and an over-interested teacher, perhaps you are telling them to your friends around a campfire or your grandkids in forty years.
(Although, there is one devastating and dramatic downfall to this so-called perk of being a military teen: I have never, EVER won a game of Never Have I Ever.)
2) College applications
If you're a high schooler, college is approaching rapidly. As more and more students decide to pursue a university, admissions are getting more and more competitive every year. But fear not; as military teens, you have a leg up!
Not only will the fact that you have moved a dozen times, possibly lived overseas, and attended many schools impress admissions boards, but you are eligible for manyyyyyyy (and I can't express this enough: MANYYYY) scholarships. One notable one is the Yellow Ribbon Program, which I highly encourage researching .
In addition to having the opportunity to drastically decrease the cost of your higher education, getting accepted into schools may be easier as a military child. When colleges read through thousands of essays about sports teams and greatest influences, your description of moving overseas and dealing with a deployment will not go unnoticed. As I discussed earlier, you have been blessed with many unique stories and experiences, all of which will stand out to admissions if you choose to write about them.
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but don't take the fact that you have most likely seen a lot of the U.S. (or the world) for granted. Growing up, I used to be shocked when my classmates told me they'd never left the state. In an admittedly snooty fashion, I would then proceed to lists the states I had visited just over the summer on my fingers. Years later it became countries and then continents.
Even if you haven't moved overseas, I'd be willing to bet you've seen more of our country - or maybe even your region - than many of your peers.
4) Meeting new people
I know, I know, another freebie. If there was a book full of the most common things military parents tell their kids, this would be in it. When you move, you get to meet sooo many new people. Not only do you get to make new friendships, but you can also be exposed to different types of people, new teachers, new neighbors, coaches, role models, and, since we're all teenagers here, new people to flirt with.
Personally, I rarely imagine what it's like staying in the same place your whole life. I look forward to moving and meeting new friends. I've lived at West Point for three years now and it feels like I know every single person within a fifty mile radius. Moving allows you to mix things up and meet new people.
5) Getting away from bad people, environments, and experiences
Are you reeeally a military teen if, not even once, you weren't grateful for moving away from a certain person? Maybe an ex, toxic friend, or the creepy neighbor? I'll be honest - I know I have. Being a military kid allows you the extremely unique opportunity to, while also leaving the good things, escape some of the things you don't like about life. Maybe there was some big drama that you couldn't escape in eighth grade, but come sophomore year, you get to move. Bye, drama! Perhaps your ex lived just across the street from you and you rode the same bus. No need to fret, you'll be rid of him/her come PCS season.
6) Your parents *might* let you get a phone earlier
This one may just be for me, but hear me out: This one may just be for me, but hear me out:Our family rule was that my brother and I would get phones when we were 13. As a ten-year old, it felt like I'd have grey hairs and a cane before I ever got one. But, the next summer we were moving to Kansas and I had a BIG soccer tryout coming up! Except... (dun, dun, dunnn) my mom had to meet with our landlord at the same time, and Dad was still at our previous duty station. Being in a brand new state where we knew no one, my mom was not just going to drop her daughter off with what could be a serial-killer soccer coach for two years four times that week. So, after an excruciatingly long phone call, Mom said I could get a phone - but ONLY so I could call my parents and grandparents. Oh, the party that went on in my head in that moment. I'm convinced you could probably see fireworks in my eyes.
The next day we drove down to Verizon store and Mom practically had to wrap her arms around my waist to keep me from sprinting in and touching every case, phone, and gadget in sight. After surveying the store and paying close attention the shiny, sparkly cases, I brought Mom a beautiful iPhone and blue-green case, presenting her the items. Twenty minutes later, we were driving home with a flip-phone and an all-too-giddy little brother.
The bottom line is: being a military kid is difficult. *gasp* Humankind left our nomadic ways behind thousands of years ago, instead preferring to settle into a nice home and grow with the environment. And yet, here we you. Here YOU are. Packing up and shoving your belongings into a truck every few years, waving goodbye to your friends as you wipe away the tears that creep down your cheek. But, without rain there could be no rainbows. Yes, there are hardships within the military life. But, it is important to remember that there are also perks (only a fraction of which are discussed in this article), and that every hardship you endure will only make you stronger. Your unique lifestyle is training and shaping you to be a strong adult capable of anything. So, the next time you are unfolding moving boxes or exploring a new neighborhood, basking in the sadness of a recent move, try and think of the things you are learning and gaining from your experiences as a military kid. Yeah, it's not easy. But it's worth it.