“Makes You Feel Broken
Standing On The Edge
And Youre Losing
Slipping Out Of Your Hands
Staring At A Last Chance
Down Below” – Losing Hold, Esterly
I’ve spent the last few days rather anxious, which is normal given that I just moved and I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I thought I had a way forward, but I’m not so sure anymore. And, that’s ok. These things happen and I just have to keep trying. The immature part of my brain is complaining rather loudly these days.
Anxiety tends to sit in my stomach where depression sits on my chest. Anxiety also makes your intestines angry – combining that with coffee isn’t the best combination. It’s like cortisol-based colon cleanse. Ha. That was clever.
Breaking it down to remind myself it’s ok. I have dog sitting jobs coming up. I have my remote work. I have my volunteer photography. I look for other jobs. I think, despite this, it can be hard to go on the internet everyday and sell yourself. Honestly, I’m starting to feel a bit like I’m covered in salesman grease. I know that’s what you have to do to keep moving forward. I know if I want to do all these things I have to apply. I know I have to submit my work to galleries even if they turn me down. I know I have to comment on the billionth post looking for a photographer even though I know the other 10 people on that post would be better than me.
I know my work is improving and I’m not looking for compliments. I know when I take photos I see something there that I like. I know some of them turn out great and some of them turn out awful. I know that I am not always good at directing humans because I get nervous. But, I also know that so many people are better, cheaper, and fit the style of the client. My style doesn’t always fit. And, that’s ok. I’m trying to accept that even if I never see any profit from photography or art – I can still do it and love it. I never started it for money. I started it because I lost a good friend and I needed a visceral way to remember him.
So often, we get caught in perception. Right now, I’m caught in a dynamic where I miss the security of my old job and the startling realization where we are stationed is not an optimal location for employment or advancement. At my old job, I knew who I was. I knew my role and I understood the community. Even in South Africa, where I couldn’t work due to a variety of issues, I was still in the same type of community. Now, I’m in Jacksonville. Throughout the military community (as with any community), we analyze based on perceptions or stereotypes. There is an unkind perception of spouses that perpetuates a cycle of bad. On one hand, you don’t want to be seen as being a dependent that is some kind of parasite to the military and on the other hand, the opportunities for you are limited depending on your status as a spouse. Yes, there’s educational benefits but those are limited by your spouses rank. Yes, there is military spouse employment preference – but of the 76 jobs for your area on USAjobs only 3 jobs have that and the 37 jobs on base are 95% service or food industry based. I’m not saying there aren’t resources available – there are tons more resources than there were when my mother was a military spouse.
I know that I’m speaking from a level of privilege compared to many spouses. I am a lot older than most of my counterparts and I don’t have small humans to care for. I guess I’m saying while I don’t believe all people in a population are good; I also don’t believe they are all bad. So often, service-members use negative language to describe spouses and, yet I don’t think they really have an understanding of the challenges or they disparage the challenges. Just as I wouldn’t have an understanding being a service-member. I haven’t been doing this that long, but I know sometimes I feel taken for granted when I’m actively helping my service-member.
We are all guilty of it. We all like to take another person’s problems and minimize them in order to make them seem more acceptable. I do it. You do it. I guess I’m just saying, aren’t we supposed to be on the same team?
Can you understand that I feel like a nobody even when I spend months trying to help my service-member with a class and then another service-member makes a joke that I should just get a job at X location even though I can’t work in X country because I’m not allowed to because I’m not on X orders? Can I better understand the struggles of constantly being aware of the underlying dynamics at play and that just because you, as a service-member, CAN ask for X thing doesn’t mean you should ask for X thing? Can I better understand that one false move can change your command’s perception of you for months to come and it will effect everything else? Can you understand that when you tell me that I’m better than other spouses – it’s not actually a compliment? Can you understand that I get tired of being the certified-problem solver? Can I understand that sometimes you require more support because of the stress of work?
I think this post started out differently than it ended, but I’m keeping it because I need to put these thoughts somewhere.