Careers For Military Spouses: Squeezing Diamonds From Horseshit.

The horseshit, of course, is the artful metaphor of the challenging endeavor of carrying on a career as a military spouse. I am new to being in a military relationship and within the space of two years, falling in love with this man has irrevocably plucked me from my former trajectory and sent me hurling into a freefall not unlike Sandra Bullock in “Gravity”. Except she had an idea of what to do in her situation.

When I met the BF, I was working as a copywriter in Denver. I was cranky with my job situation; I had worked my butt off for three years and hadn’t received a raise for two of them. The mantra of “I’m receiving an education from this” (I was) was losing its power over my ability to show up at 6:30 a.m. and work through to hours that ensured I would never see sunlight. I had been putting my feelers out for other opportunities – for writing copy and jobs within the marketing industry.

An aside: I didn’t go to school for marketing. I went to school for writing. Where we read Proust and Dostoevsky; where I sat through painful workshops that simultaneously inflated my ego and tore it to shreds; where I learned the power of written words and was haunted by nightmares any time someone close to me borrowed my portfolios. It was exhilarating. I lived for the praise of professors. When I perfectly composed a sentence, my body self-released a shot of dopamine whose warm tendrils I could feel shooting from the central station of my belly to my fingers, my head, my heart; to intimate areas. It was the most amazing high. And for the first time in my life, there was nothing but A’s on my report card. Or whatever you get in college.

Upon graduation, I panicked. I accidentally became a copywriter and continued to be one for six years now. It’s a fascinating craft and a great career for military spouses. It provides flexibility and it’s the kind of thing that if you have a laptop, you can make it happen.

But I’d strayed from a passion to a safety net.

Jumping, Eyes Wide Open, Into the Horseshit

And then I was asked to move. I think you know my answer. Cards started falling where they may. A contact of mine referred me to an internet marketing company that was comprised of entirely remote workers. It felt like Kismet and it was happening so quickly. One morning I said goodbye to my boyfriend as he boarded a plane to Afghanistan, went back to the hotel, paced, cried and then went to the interview with the company’s owners who happen to live in Colorado Springs. All of a sudden I had gone from writing headlines against beautiful images of custom homes to staring at spreadsheets and AdWord statistics. This was not the best use of my creative mind and every time I tried to educate myself further about Excel and AdWords, my mind would wander away quicker than a cat that’s just been fed.

Three months into my Colorado Springs residency, I experienced the nicest severance anyone could ever hope for.

And then, I was free. I hated it. I’ve worked in my dad’s offices since I was nine and I started working at a pizza parlor when I was fifteen. The BF constantly reassured me that we would be okay, and we were but my purpose was lost. I slowly scraped myself together and eight months later… I’m still not making the money. I’m out there. I’m hustling. I’m marketing myself. My website looks pretty good. I’m educating myself. I’ve found a dedicated working space.

But I’ve still had time for my mind to wander.

Between not making money and having enough time to re-explore some more creatively-oriented projects.

Oh yeah, and then there was this time that I definitely had some time for my mind to wander.

Mining The Coal

military spouse careers

Sometimes your passion is your best friend before the diamonds can be.

So between the eye-opener of what it’s like to be in a new town where I don’t know anyone and the sole reason I went there takes off, and the realization that this is what I’ve signed up for, then knowing that there is a solid six-month absence starting in January (stateside, but not one that I’ll follow to), I’ve been wrestling with some thoughts pretty intensely.

Okay, so it’s tough to be a military spouse. But where’s the opportunity here? While one love of my life is away, maybe it’s time to revisit the most consistent, long-standing passion of mine: writing. Fiction. What I love.

And the wheels have been turning even faster. What if I could take a road trip, some kind of grown ups Springs Break. What if I could write a book.

And even more: what if I could explore both of the conversations happening here? The one about writing a novel, what I’ve always wanted to do but have been too scared to do. And how a seemingly (okay, it is in reality) difficult situation was what finally pushed me to make this happen after all of these years?

I don’t know. It’s scary. It’s scary to do something that you’ve dreamed of for 32 years and have somehow avoided. But being a part of a military couple – which is something I never expected to happen – could very well be the catalyst to switch from passively dreaming of an accomplishment to going out and achieving it.

 

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