The news that ended my career in the military, “You’ve got orders to D.C.” It couldn’t have come at a worse time, but without a doubt I knew I was putting my daughter first. My only course of action was to decline the orders. I knew that by declining them I was ending my almost 12 year career in the military. The fear immediately set in. I’d spent my entire adult life in the military. What the f*** was I going to do now?
What the hell else was I good at? I had over a decade in the military and I still hadn’t finished college. I’d taken only one college course in the twelve years I was active duty. I kept putting it off. Now I had to look for a job without a college degree and skills that would make no sense to anyone outside the military. I had no idea how anything I’d done over the last decade would translate into something I could put on a resume.
It wasn’t just the obvious issues like the resume and a college degree that made it tough. I was struggling with PTSD and the accompanying nightmares, flashbacks and constant anxiety. Then there was my language…I spent a chunk of my career working with the army and I had a hard time speaking in sentences that didn’t include four letter words. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that in the “real world“, sarcasm and profanity weren’t going to get me far. This was going to be hard and I was going to have to become someone different if I wanted to get a job.
I was fortunate enough to find a job as a receptionist with a small company before I separated. I think the guy who hired me was impressed by my military decorations. He asked me about my military job and how I’d made it. I didn’t know how to answer that question without it sounding dark. I told him I never stopped moving. I guess that was the right answer because I got the job!
Fitting in…not really
Unfortunately I knew from day one that I didn’t fit in a corporate environment. The people I worked with were nice, but I constantly felt like everything I said sounded stupid or weird. I didn’t know how communicate with or relate to any of my coworkers. I felt like the weird new kid for the almost two years I worked there. I’d never felt socially awkward before, but after 12 years in the military I didn’t know how to not be military. I don’t think it’s something the military could teach you…how to deprogram. Over the next two years my life changed drastically and my transition from the military wasn’t even close to over.