Looking back on old Facebook posts and photos, I discovered one jarring fact about myself before I joined the army: I didn’t know what it meant to be an adult until I arrived at my first unit.
Before I was a Soldier, I was ambitious and eager to excel in English, following my love of writing and literature. Receiving feedback on my essays was almost addicting; I couldn’t wait to figure out my professor’s standards and exceed them with every draft.
I was a dance instructor, pushing myself out of my comfort zone of simply being the student. It was one thing to make it to a dance class and follow, but it was another to lead. Simultaneously, I studied and taught yoga.
Then I was a performer, joining a small dance company and participating in late night ballroom dance rehearsals.
I was a traveler. My best friend and I joined a tour group, enduring two fast-paced weeks of visiting seven European countries. Before then, I traveled to Ireland for one week with another tour group, having met no one before the trip. On domestic soil, I flew to Nebraska to read a research paper I wrote for the 2015 Willa Cather Conference.
I was a journalist, an editor of a local newspaper and intern at a Los Angeles based yoga and Ayurveda magazine.
All the while, I was still living under my parents’ roof and reaching my mid-twenties. Despite my hunger to embody what I loved doing – dancing and writing, I could never support myself or keep more than a few extra bucks in my checking account.
Flash-forward to now, I am still struggling financially. I predict that I will be struggling for at least another year, before I finally have it all figured out. I’m no longer under mommy and daddy’s roof; I’m under Uncle Sam’s.
I have much more growing up to do, milestones that have yet to be crossed. The journey isn’t black and white, though. I didn’t leave my childhood behind and begin adulthood when I joined the military. A new chapter began, furthering the tale of my existence that I hope to pass on to the children I hope to have one day.
Even then, I’ll never stop learning and exploring who I am, who I was meant to be, and who I am supposed to be with. I have faith in the journey and everything that is beyond my control.