“Being raised as a military brat has a way of making things blur together, simply because of how often you have to move. Friends come and go, clothing is packed and unpacked, households are continually purged of unnecessary items, and as a result, not much sticks. It’s hard at times, but it makes a kid strong in ways that most people can’t understand. Teaches them that even though people are left behind, new ones will inevitably take their place; that every place has something good – and bad – to offer. It makes a kid grow up fast.”
– Nicholas Sparks “The Lucky One”
I’m a military brat.
Most people who know me know this about me. But some of you who have come into my life more recently may not. (And, oh yeah, all my new blog followers who I don’t know from Adam don’t know that either – Hi Strangers! Sometimes I still forget you’re there. Thanks for reading!) My step-dad was in the Army from the time I was 8 years old. We started moving when I was in the 4th grade and never stopped. From 4th grade through 12th grade, I attended 8 different schools located in 4 different states and 2 different countries. I graduated high school in Giessen, Germany with a grand total of 21 other graduates. (1996, baby. Go Griffins! Represent!) Ok, enough of that.
Sometimes I think I forget what a profound effect my childhood had on me. At the time, I thought it was the worst thing that could happen to a person. Being dragged from here to there – having to say goodbye to friends and family sometimes at the drop of a hat – never feeling ‘stability’ or ‘roots.’ Yes, if you asked my teenage self, I would have told you that I had the worst parents in the world and no one could have had a worse childhood than mine.
Well, that brat grew up. And now she knows better.
I have something that most people don’t have. Rather than having one set of roots in one location – I have roots everywhere. I’ve seen this comic before and it always makes me chuckle:
I honestly remember when my answer to that question used to be, “I’m from nowhere.” But I’ve amended that as I have gotten older. I’m not from “nowhere.” I’m from “everywhere!” I have friends scattered all across this world. Not just this country – this world. I have links and ties to so many people from so many races, cultures and walks of life that I feel like a chameleon myself at times. And that’s awesome.
But where am I now?
Now I’m stuck in a military brat’s nightmare. I live in a tiny small town in the middle of nowhere. Where everyone here has lived here their whole lives and everyone knows everyone and their business and their momma’s business and their second cousin twice-removed’s business. It’s tough. And one day I’ll make my escape. But in the meantime, even though I may stick out like sore thumb and feel like a fish out of water at times, I am safe in the knowledge that who I am has not changed and has not molded to fit my surroundings. I may be different, but I’m me. And that won’t change. And part of being ‘me’ means that I can handle a lot of crap. People may come and go, but I remain steady. I remain me.
Because of my upbringing and my ability to adapt, I have become a pro at handling change. You want to leave my life? Go. I’ll cry for a while, I’m not heartless. But I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, and realize that when one leaves, another takes their place. I’m not saying that some don’t hold special places in your life. They do. Some spots are always reserved for certain special people. But I always know that I’m not going to be alone, and that that empty spot can be smoothed over with the laughter and love from new friends, new places, new activities, etc. When one thing leaves, another will take its place. Always.
It’s the military brat creed.