Distractions from the Short Term

With my husband on a roll and progressing through his syllabus at a rate greater than one flight every several months, it is starting to sink in that we really might find ourselves out of FRS limbo in a couple short months.  I get a little jolt of adrenaline just thinking about it, and I’ll work myself into a tizzy if I dwell on everything that ought to get done in case of this or that eventuality of duty station.  I’m trying especially hard to avoid getting caught up in speculation over how many slots there might be for each squadron and how that breakdown matches up with the stated preferences of each student in my husband’s class, but it is hard to keep from tripping down that line of thought.  Rather than thinking about the short-range implications of PCSing or not PCSing, I think I need to extend my view to what I want to do after we are settled wherever we might be for the next three years.

The obvious choice is to get a job.  We made the decision early on that I wouldn’t sweat looking for employment while we were living with the frequent moves and general uncertainty of flight school, and for the most part I think that was a wise decision for us.  I have been able to be flexible and supportive throughout some big changes and short-notice moves.  I have had the privilege of being home when my husband is home during a time when his schedule is different every day.  Besides, the job markets in some of the places we lived were, shall we say, not exactly brimming with opportunities in my field.  A lengthy search process coupled with the fact that we were only in a given place for an indefinite (usually short — under three months, in one case) period of time would have made for an absurd state of affairs both stressful and pointless.  So, I figured that it would be best to wait to begin my search in earnest until the Nasal Radiator of the family was firmly ensconced in his fleet squadron and we were looking at a luxuriously lengthy stint of three years in one place.

Of course, neither of us had any idea that it would take quite this long to even approach that point.  That’s the Navy — and more specifically, flight school — for you.

I now find myself nearly four years out of college without any real work experience with which to pepper my résumé.  I have volunteer experience I can play up, but I cannot shake the grim suspicion that it’s not going to look ultra-fabulous that my credentials rely heavily on academic work from four or more years ago, especially in a fast-moving, constantly changing field.  Hearing of job searches for people with much more relevant experience dragging on for half a year or more fails to inspire confidence in my ability to land meaningful employment.  Optimism doesn’t always come naturally to me, and I am terrified that prospective employers won’t give me another look after they say to themselves, “Hmm, graduated with a solid academic record, honor societies and club leadership and such… and then immediately got married and became a housewife?  Next, please, and this is for the shredder when you get a minute.”

I think it boils down to nerves and uncertainty about my ability to do something I haven’t done before: make the transition from college to the working world.  Most of my peers have already done it because they didn’t have to immerse themselves fully in an “All Navy, All the Time!” bubble shortly after graduation.  I do not regret my decision to focus on our fledgling marriage and the necessary adjustment to the military lifestyle; adding my career angst to the mix would have made these last few years more stressful than they have been.  Up until now, my husband’s progression through flight school has been our top priority.  Now that we are nearing a point that has, until recently, seemed so far off in the future that it wasn’t worth thinking about, I’m just a little anxious about taking the first steps toward figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.

Oh well.  It does give me something to think about other than how much I wince at the prospect of seeing our crap go into cardboard boxes again.


11 thoughts on “Distractions from the Short Term

  1. sespi says:

    I’m in the same spot. I had big plans for post-school life: I was going to go live in DC, work for the government, and put my degrees to work. Except I got married two months after I graduated and followed my husband to the South, where there are few jobs in my field and no one hiring. I’m happy being married and I love my husband, but sometimes I get frustrated that we’re just stuck here and then moving who knows where in spite of the fact that my career field pretty much has me tied to DC. I want a say in it! I’m starting to explore alternative career fields, but it feels a little like changing my identity– and when you couple that with the change that came with getting married, it’s a little overwhelming. The result is that I go back and forth between a couple options (go back to school and start over or move to DC and hope that the husband can get orders there in a few years?) and am just twiddling my thumbs at home in the meantime…

    • Yes, yes, yes. We aren’t precisely in the same field, but my studies and career aspirations were also pointed at a government job in DC or its environs (where we’re from, as it happens). I wouldn’t trade my marriage for anything, but going from being an ambitious, successful student whose professors were confident in her future professional achievements to being a housewife making no use of her degree was a tough transition to swallow. I can relate to that feeling of lost identity.

      I am very lucky to have a husband who understands my frustration at the situation and wants to do whatever he can to help us find a balance that lets me do what I need to do for my professional satisfaction. Unfortunately, the nature of a Navy career means that many of the obvious decisions (e.g., relocating together for a job or graduate education opportunity of mine) are out of his control. Those kinds of basic decisions — where to live, how long to live there — will continue to be out of his hands for at least the next six years, and perhaps as long as the next decade and a half. I’m confident that we will be able to figure out a way to work around a daunting set of challenges, but damned if I can see it clearly at the moment.

  2. Wifey says:

    I hope you can find a job soon. Is there a way to get a gov’t job? You would get bonus points in the hiring process for being a recently PCSed spouse.

    • Thank you. 🙂 I do plan to research local Navy civilian opportunities and the like, and you can bet I’ll be looking into that military spouse hiring advantage. I just need to know where “local” will be first. Meanwhile, I can work on whipping my résumé into some semblance of relevance. Woohoo, right?

  3. I’ve been out of college for 12 years (oh my gosh, that makes me sound OLD!), and I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost 6 years. I went back and got my masters a few years ago, but I haven’t used it yet. Now that the kids are a little older and we’re hoping to stick around for awhile, I’m trying to get back out there. I feel your pain!! Just filling out the application is tough!!

    You can do it!

    • It is an incredible help/inspiration/motivation to hear from other people in a similar spot. Thank you for the encouragement; I’m sure I’ll be writing about my tentative steps in the right direction as time goes on.

  4. I can definitely see where you’re coming from.

    In my case however, I’d expect my prospective employer to say, “Hmm, graduated with a solid academic record, enlisted in the Army, got married… twice… got divorced twice… went back to college but left to move to Sweden and play computer games for a living… and currently has a strange ambition to publish a book. Next please, and this is for the shredder… and don’t forget to burn the paper residue out back near the dumpster…” 😉

    Thanks for being so nice to me on Twitter, by the way 🙂

    …and good luck with the job hunt!

    • Sweden? God morgon to you. 🙂 It sounds like you have had a broad range of experiences; I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss living and working abroad, for instance as a potential positive on a résumé. The ability to adapt to immersion in another culture isn’t something that everyone can claim.

      Thanks for the job search wishes — I’ll need ’em!

  5. Rachel says:

    Thank you! I have been struggling with this recently too. It’s great to know that there are others going through what I am. I’ve been in my job field for about 2 years, and I’m looking at up and moving with my fiancee to where he’ll be next. It’s so hard to walk away from a great job and to start the job search all over again, but I know that this will be my life from here out. Frustration does not even begin to describe it. 🙂

    So thank you for blogging about this too.

    • I doubt there is anything even resembling a shortage of military spouses in our situation. At least we have plenty of people with whom we can commiserate, right? Best wishes on your job search in the new place — you never know, you might luck into something!

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