Today I received an email from my FRG leader informing me that the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account has been opened up to all military spouses, regardless of rank (prior to this, it was only available to spouses whose sponsors were certain ranks). What a blessing!
But hearing about this gives me pause. Makes me think, "What if...?"
But it's not the "What if...?" that I bet you're thinking.
A little history:
I graduated from high school and went directly to a 4-year university. Granted, I was not sure of what I wanted to be when I grew up but I went anyway. State-run college, lived in the dorm, etc. I don't even remember what the cost was but if I were to look it up in today's dollars, it would run about $20K per year for tuition, fees, room/board, and books. Twenty thousand dollars for a kid who really didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up.
I bailed after a year.
I wasn't ready for college. I had no clue what I wanted to be/do/study. Hell, I didn't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt. I had no business being there. I should never have gone in the first place. At the time, though, community college was presented as some place the kids that we're "worthy" of a 4-year college went. That's where the "dummies" went. That was the impression I got from those around me. And having been raised to believe that I would go to college, I could not step outside of myself long enough to see that a 4-year university was not the right place for me at the time.
So I chalked it up to a "learning experience". A damned expensive one, at that.
I moved back down south - back "home" - and found my way to the local community college. I tackled my General Education courses and worked and quickly pinpointed what it was I wanted to be when I grew up - a teacher. Sweet. Then I met MacGyver and together, we decided to head to Colorado to complete our college educations. We knew from the beginning that we would get married. At that point, we did not know that he would enlist 4 years later but looking back, I can see that he was headed that direction.
So here I am, 15 years later (well, 18 since graduation, to be precise) and I am a stay-at-home-mom. I graduated with a degree in a field that allowed me to teach and I did - for 4 years. Then we started a family and I made the decision to stay home with my children. And I love it. And I wouldn't change a single thing.
Well, maybe. The "What if...?" is this: What if I had put off going to college? What if I had spent that entire time (18 years to this point or 12 to the point where I chose to stay home with my children) working rather than racking up student loans and credit card debt? What would be different?
I don't know that anything about my life would be different other than our balance sheet. I would still be married to MacGyver. We would still have our two beautiful children (the older of whom lost her second tooth this evening!). We would still be a military family. We just wouldn't have student loans that have been around so long that we now consider them family pets. Oh, gee. Bummer.
I look at the resources available now to spouses that are working on their degrees and I see how I could have made this work - quite easily, in fact - for me now. And, in the end, I might very well have found myself in EXACTLY the same spot (only without the $60K pricetag on my diploma!).
Am I bitter? Nope. The way I see it is this: you have a choice. Bitter or better. Pick a vowel. I have several friends and acquaintances who are bitter over their lot in life. The rail against the military and they rail against their husband's job and they rail against where they live and they rail against this and they rail against that. Seems like an awful lot of railing. Yes, from time to time, military life SUCKS. But you know what? From time to time, LIFE sucks. Like my friend Maggie said to me, "If you stood in a circle and threw your problems in the middle.....you'd take your own back."
Military life - like everything else IN life - is what you make of it. You can either focus on the negative and spend your time bitching and moaning about your circumstances and choices or you can get busy living. Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." He didn't say "Bitch about the change you want to see in the world."
Don't like something about your life? Either do something to effect a change (in the direction you want the change to take you) or shut up and accept the circumstances of your life. Otherwise, you're just wasting oxygen.
So, is there something I want to change about my situation? Yes - I'd love to be free of the student loans. So, to effect that change, I'm buying lottery tickets. Heh.
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