The places, the friends, the different kinds of food, the various cultures, and the new experiences. Sounds like a vacation, right? Well not exactly. What I just described, my friends, is what they like to call "The Military Life" and although it may sound like it's all fun and games, it's more on the side of lessons learned, experiences gained but most importantly having a special kind of pride for those who have or currently serve this country.
Whether you're born into a military family (like me) and deemed a "Military Brat" months before you're even on this earth (I was one of the lucky ones, I've been on this roller coaster ride my entire life) or somehow you were adopted into the military lifestyle at some point in your life, we can all agree on a few things...
1. Making new friends and having the ability to adjust insanely fast becomes second nature.
Personally, I have lived in 4, almost 6 plus a new country, different states. I know what you're thinking, "So what? That's not even a lot." but the fact that it takes me more than 10 fingers to count the number of schools I've attended (13 to be exact) throughout my entire life has to account for something. That's one school per every year I spent in school including preschool (which I didn't go to but that's the only other place that extra year could've gone). Just think about that for a sec.. a whole new set of friends every. single. year. Starting completely over every 365 days. Crazy, right? Fortunately, my situation was starting over every year to two and a half years. Now although that may have sucked sometimes, I also had the chance to meet so so sooooo many people and make tons of friends which in turn only made me a well-rounded person. Military Brat: 1. Starting over: 0. Along with learning how to make new friends, the package also includes the ability to adjust insanely fast to whatever life throws at you. You learn to roll with the punches and enjoy whatever life hands you. It really is a blessing.
2. Military bases, housing and two words. The Commissary.
There was nothing that I enjoyed more than growing up on military bases. Seriously guys. Everything was in one spot, all of your friends, places to eat, shop, and sometimes you even got a view of the ocean when you stepped outside of your front door. Oh, Camp Pendleton how I miss you. There was always something about living in a military house on a street with other houses full of military families in a neighborhood with even more streets full of houses with military families. It was unique. It was home. It didn't matter what base I was living on, I was surrounded by influential adults and kids my age who just simply understood. We were all bonded together by one thing, the Military Lifestyle. And the commissary.. oh my goodness can we please just take a minute to reminisce in the benefits of having a grocery store two minutes from your house with everything a quarter of the price of what a regular grocery store had. Honestly, it was one of the best things ever.
3. Having civilian friends and a military I.D.
It's just one of those things that I've never quite gotten over. Every time I pull my military I.D. out to use as either a form of identification or a discount, etc. my civilian friends always seem so fascinated by the little laminated card. It's just so funny to me.
4. Movie Theaters on base vs. movie theaters not on base.
Now if you've ever gone to a movie theater on a military base and one that was not, you'll notice one big difference. The National Anthem. I honestly cannot count how many times I have gone to see a movie with my friends at a theater that wasn't on base and stood up with my hand placed on my heart expecting The National Anthem to be played but instead getting odd looks in return. For anyone who knows what I'm talking about, the struggle is REAL.
5. Mixing civilian friends and military talk.
Every time I'm asked about where I've lived and I start to say phrases such as " and then we were stationed" or "then we got orders to" the looks I get I can't even begin to describe. A mixture of confusion, amusement, and curiosity for the secret codes I'm using. I get looked at like I'm speaking an unknown language daily and to be honest, I'm perfectly content with that. What more can I say? I guess it's just a military thing.
6. The independence that comes along with the title and lifestyle.
If there's one thing that I am the most grateful for from my life as a military brat it's the pure fact that I am independent. I leave for college in 19 days (cheers for moving in a week early for band camp). That's less than three weeks.. like what.. and guess what, I'm not scared one bit either. I'm ready for a change and I'm insanely excited for the new adventures and journeys I'm about to embark on and the only people I have to thank for that are my parents for raising me to not be afraid of change. With the independence also comes ambition, determination, compassion, an ability to understand things from a different perspective and one word, discipline.
7. Discipline and manners like no other.
Manners. Manners. Manners. If I had a penny for how many times I was about to walk out the door to go spend the night at a friend's and my mom gave me the classic "Remember your manners! Yes ma'am, no ma'am, yes sir, no sir, thank you, no thank you, yes please, I'm serious!" line, I'd be a millionaire. Not even kidding.
8. The special place those who serve this country have in your heart.
I am proud to say that I have multiple family members who have served in the military, two of them being my mom and dad. I remember when my dad got deployed, I wasn't even in first grade yet and he was already taken from us for several months and put overseas to fight for this country. I remember calling him on my mom's phone (picture a 4-year-old on a cell phone hahaha) and every single time having it go straight to voicemail. All my I wanted to do was talk to my dad for 30 seconds, a minute, just something, but instead I'd have to leave him a message. Though it was hard at times, I am so incredibly thankful to say that he came home safe and sound and now I don't have to leave a voicemail in order to communicate with him.
As of today, both of my parents are officially retired from the military but that doesn't make our family of five any different. My dad is still the same Marine he's always been and always will be, my mom is still the same sailor she was, and my brother, sister and I are still the same military brats we have always been and always will be.
Thanks, Military Life, you've taught me quite a few things and trust me I will never forget any of them. I couldn't even if I tried.
And as always, like the USMC likes to say,