Office Sign

Today was a crazy day at work, as are most of my days.

I’ve been working full-time for a little over a month now, but I’ve only been doing my actual job for a week and half, and I’ve only been doing it by myself for the last two days!

I took over this position when the current Case Manager left. She trained me for a week (last week) and starting yesterday I’ve been on my own. My department only has one Case Manager, so everything falls on me.

Today, I started out being overwhelmed and questioning why I decided to go into social work.  I had clients scheduled that day, a ton of paperwork to do (I feel like that is half of my job!) and advocacy/phone calls to make for my active clients. But when I got to work I found out that I instead had to spend an hour on the phone dealing with a difficult and unappreciative caller/client.

By the end of the call I was frustrated and stressed, feeling like I had to solve this woman’s problems and overwhelmed by the amount of work I still had to do that day in addition to helping her (and it was only 10am).

Today when I left work and closed my office door (still having a ton of work to finish tomorrow), I noticed that a new sign had been put up.

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I stood and stared at it for a few moments, then took a photo of it. When I posted it on Facebook one of my friends who is about to start her Masters degree said, “after 6 years of college your hard work has finally paid off. I bet that feels amazing to see your name followed by MSW”

And you know what, it does feel amazing. As stressful as my work can be sometimes, I am still incredibly proud of what I do and all that I have accomplished. I am 24 years old and my name is on the wall of a well-known and respected social service agency with the letters MSW after it.

I’ve accomplished one of my dreams, a dream that I have had since high school when I started thinking about my career. I have a career.

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Not Mutually Exclusive

Last night I went with some friends to a motivational speaking event for military spouses that was sponsored by Camp Pendleton.

There were a few speakers who are well known in the military spouse community, one of whom was Mollie Gross. She is a Marine spouse and comedian who wrote the book Confessions of a Military Spouse

I expected a comedy routine from her, which she delivered with flair. My favorite joke was “watch out for Tricare, because they don’t ‘try’ and they don’t ‘care'” lol

But she also had a very inspirational and motivating aspect to her speech that I really related to.

She talked about following your dreams and working to make them come true, in spite of the obstacles the military throws in to the mix.

I see a lot of wives who feel like they can’t have both, their own goals and dreams, while supporting their husband’s career. That the military always comes first so they might as well just stay home and have babies. And I do believe that is true (the first part at least lol). My husband’s career does come first, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a career too. That I can’t have my own goals and ambitions for my life outside of being a military wife.

My goal has always been to go to college and find a career that I am passionate about. I am now about to graduate with my masters degree at 24 years old and begin the career I have been dreaming of for the last 6 years. And during that entire time I have supported my husband through his military career, 2 deployments, multiple work ups and training and a duty station change.

I am a military wife, a graduate student and a social worker. They are not mutually exclusive.

During Molly’s talk last night she told her story of accomplishing her goals while supporting her husband’s.  She had always wanted to be a comedian, so during her husbands first deployment she started taking classes about how to be a stand up comic and began going to open mike nights and practicing. She is now a well known comedian and author who travels the country, voicing speeches and comedy shows at military bases.

Then she talked about her grandmother, who is her inspiration. She was an Air Force wife for 20+ years, through WWII and Korea. Her grandmother’s goal was to have a big family…so she had 7 children and followed her husband around the world supporting him on the home front and raising their family.

I loved that she included her grandmother and her goal of being a mother and a wife.

Because not everyone wants to go to college. Not everyone wants to work a 9-5 job.

Some women want to be wives and mothers. Some women want to be hairdressers. Some women want to be doctors.

I am not here to say that because I have a college degree I am “better” than wives who choose to stay at home and raise children.

I am saying that I hope that all military spouses know that they can accomplish their goals, no matter what they are. 

And on an somewhat unrelated note, here was my view from last night’s event.

I live in PARADISE!

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Del Mar Beach, Camp Pendleton CA

Wife to Wife Wednesday

This weeks prompt from Wives of Faith is:

How has your life changed as a military wife?

My life has changed a lot of ways since becoming a military wife. The one that is most on my mind recently, as I am about to graduate, is my career.

The military has effected my career in both a positive and negative way.

To first acknowledge the positives: being a military spouse lead me to pursue a career in social work.

I was getting my bachelors in Psychology when I met my husband, and I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school (because with a bachelors in psychology you pretty much have to), but I didn’t have a passion for any career specifically.

I went to a LINKS class after we got married (which is pretty much a class for new military spouses that explains the basics of military life) and everyone was so sweet and helpful! I ended up volunteering as a LINKS instructor and also with Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and as a Family Readiness Volunteer.

I loved the experience and I was inspired to become a military social worker.

And here I am, a month away from graduating applying like crazy to organizations like MCCS, Armed Services YMCA, USO, etc. so I can combine my experience with the military and my education as a social worker.

Now to the negatives: as most wives have probably experienced, being married to someone in the military means your career sometimes has to take a back seat.

I love being a social worker, but it requires state specific licensure, which is difficult to get when you move from state to state and each state has it’s own licensing requirements.

There is also the added difficulty in establishing a career when you move every few years.

But overall I think the positives outweigh the negatives. Yes, the moving may make it a little more difficult for me to establish a career, but it’s part of life when your husband is in the military. I love my career: I love helping people and giving back to the military community that has had such a positive impact on my life.