As a military spouse, I have conquered six moves, six occupations, and four careers. Have any of these roles been so fulfilling I felt as though I was living my dream? Absolutely not. Have I ever defined or pursued my true passion? No. Has your career taken you on a path of fulfillment and self-actualization? We can all do so much more if we think outside the box and consider what we actually enjoy.
From non-profit management to pharmaceutical sales, and nursing, I am a woman who has done so much more. We all know people who knew what they wanted to be from a very early age. My husband is one of these people. He is a pilot. His dad was a pilot. His grandfather was a pilot. I am not one of these people.
Is the military lifestyle to blame for my career path? No. Yet, it has been a contributing factor. Unless we can work from home, work remotely, or work for ourselves, moving constrains our career prospects and job longevity. This is not an excuse. It is a reality. As of January 2020, the military spouse unemployment rate was 24%. This rate is six times greater than the national average before COVID-19.
Now we are facing more constraints and uncertainty due to the world as we currently know it. Many of us are home teaching and caring for our children. Some of us are also trying to manage jobs remotely, while others may have lost jobs. This time of uncertainty gives us a chance to reassess our career paths and work needs.
So Much More
A career can be so much more than a means to an end. It is never too late to find our true passion. Military spouses, as well as all spouses, can have meaningful careers. It is imperative to listen to our inner selves and drown out the clutter of expectations set by others. Doing so will allow us to determine what we are meant to do. Trusting and believing in ourselves, our abilities, and talents can lead us to our real career. Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards can follow if we give ourselves the chance to focus our skills, energy, commitment, and love on defining our passion. Finding the right work can enable us to have so much more genuine happiness.
I recently found my passion for writing about current events affecting military spouses and their families. My rewards have been learning new skills in research, editing, publishing, technology, web development, graphic design, social media marketing, and writing. Finding my passion and pursuing it has given me so much more self-esteem, self-respect, and joy than I knew was possible from a career. Defining my love for writing is allowing me to help and inspire others.
My recent pursuit of career happiness has met opposition. I have been told the following in a polite and supportive, yet condescending tone:
- “This is a great little hobby for you.”
- “I hope you won’t be disappointed when you don’t make any money.”
- “It is nice to see you so happy. But you do realize this isn’t a viable career, right?”
We are only responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Those of others are out of our control. Let us take this negativity and turn it into so much more motivation to succeed.
We can also use an outpouring of positive support as so much more motivation to succeed. In response to what I am currently doing as a freelance writer, I have also heard the following in an extremely encouraging tone:
- “Congratulations! I am so proud of you!”
- “Is writing your new side hustle? If not, it should be.”
- “Thank you for writing these articles. You are inspiring.”
- “You are a role model for us during a time of uncertainty.”
- “You set an example for those of us who need to look at courage in the face of change.”
The world is facing unemployment rates rivaling those of The Great Depression. There is a silver lining to these statistics. Now may actually be the best time to take a risk to identify and pursue what we truly love. We have been given the gift of time. Take this time to figure out your passion. A great little hobby could become so much more. Ourselves and our self-doubt are the only things stopping us from having a career filled with so much more meaning.