Monday, May 21, 2012

...on Volunteering

If anyone reading this is a military spouse, I highly recommend that you start volunteering ASAP!!!  You might think that you'll get married to your Marine, you'll move in to your first home together, and you'll have a wonderful life together forever and ever, amen.  Then, when you least expect it, the Marine Corps will tell you otherwise!

Also, because military families can expect to move every 3-5 years, we military spouses may find it difficult to find a job.  That simple fact is one of the main reasons why I'm a lifeguard for yet another summer.  (I've been a lifeguard for 10 years now, people.  I have graduated college with a BS in Nutrition Science and a minor in health.  I had plans to do something, ANYTHING! with my degree... and here I am working at a pool again, haha!)  I'm not complaining, because it's a job and another source of income for us.  It's something that I can do this summer to feel like I'm helping provide for our family.  I will make more friends along the way as well!

I started applying for jobs at the beginning of February, when I decided to move in with David the next month.  Every day I applied for at least one job.  By the end of April, I had applied to about 75 positions in a 60-mile radius.  My mother-in-law was putting my name out as well, but nothing was happening!  I had two (let me repeat... TWO) interviews.  Needless to say, I was disheartened and felt completely unintelligent, lazy, and unwanted.  I didn't want people to get the impression that I was one of those women who wanted to get married and mooch off of her husband and be perfectly content with that.

In between applying for jobs and cleaning the house, I wanted to get out and meet people on base.  The Marine Corps has the possibility to become your second family, but only if you WANT it to.  The feeling of closeness is like having family members that you can choose to keep!  It is quite a humbling feeling to have people around you who know exactly what you're going through and can make you feel completely sane in your weakest, craziest moments.

The first 4 months of David's and my marriage has been a roller coaster, to say the least.  I tend to have trouble coping with things when I can't gain my footing and control over a life event... and there were plenty of life events shoved into that 4 month window!  I cried many times on David's shoulders (best husband ever!) and, until I got my "sea legs," I was a wreck!  Through volunteering, I was able to meet my Family Readiness Officer (FRO), who is an amazing human being.  She has helped me realize that my emotions are not actually all that crazy!  I'm all over the place because I am a very sensitive person, but she has felt the same things before.  I honestly can't tell you how amazing it feels to know that I'm not insane.  I already love her like she's my family, and I've known her for only 2 months.

I also started volunteering with LINKS, which is an organization in the Marine Corps that helps spouses, families, and the Marines themselves learn how to cope with and navigate the Corps.  LINKS gives seminar-style workshops that teach others about all of the resources available to service members on and off base, how to cope with deployments/separations/PCS, and how to be a positive attribute to the lives of your Marine and to the other Marines around you.  I went to the LINKS for spouses class immediately after I moved in and absolutely LOVED the environment.  The ladies who lead the workshop are all amazing people who genuinely love giving their time and effort to other spouses.  I met lots of people who have similar stories as I do and others who have been in much longer and could offer advice.

While David is gone for a year, I know that I'll at least have FRO and LINKS to keep me busy.  I'll be able to learn new things from more experienced wives, but I eventually want to be able to give my guidance to another young wife who was as lost as I was.  Life is hard, marriage takes effort, and the Marine Corps is a completely whole new world.

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