One of the scariest parts of transitioning out of the military, whether you’re a veteran or a military spouse, is the moment when the “realness of it all” sinks in.
We had that moment at Matthew’s med board intake appointment when his PEBLO stared us in the face and calmly informed us that “with this much going on, you’re (Matthew is) most likely going to be found unfit for duty”. Although we had been anticipating this, there was something about hearing it again from a professional that made it feel that much more real.
We went through - and are still experiencing - a whole wave of emotions. We’ve been shocked, sad, angry, happy, relieved, energized, and lost - all in a few hours.
We used to be so innocent...now we have to be the adults? Gross.
Despite all of the preparations we have been making for months to fully transition out of military life, we weren’t expecting the emotions to hit so hard. Not to mention, it’s been less than 2 weeks since Shanon signed her severance package from Google.
The last time we went through this rollercoaster of emotions was shortly after Shanon got the news that she had been laid off. Although calm and collected in the moment, a few days later, she started to spin. She had previously found success by sending out countless job applications and saying yes to the first good offer that came along, so she started down the LinkedIn rabbit hole. This led her to discovering an open position at a veteran-focused nonprofit company that would be a perfect fit for her skill sets and experience.
When she shared her excitement about her discovery with Matthew, he walked Shanon into the kitchen and asked her to look at the core values they had written down and posted on their cabinet.
Our values from May of 2022
“I agree, that looks like a perfect fit, but I don’t think you should apply,” said Matthew.
This took Shanon by surprise, as she was sure Matthew would be supportive of her finding another corporate role, as so many of their friends and family have urged her to do. When she asked Matthew why, he pointed to their core values and asked her if this role aligns with how they want to live.
The job was not fully remote
The job had set hours and limited PTO
Although a perfect fit in terms of skill sets, Matthew knew that the limitations of the role would make Shanon miserable, and that she would no longer have the time to dedicate to building something we can pass on to the future unicorn herd.
What we value now: freedom, creativity, family
Photography credit: Stacy Foster Photography
What’s the takeaway?
Take the time to reflect on what is important to you now and complete a values exercise (this one by Brene Brown is a good place to start, although there are many others out there). We say now, because it is likely different from what was important to you when you joined the service, married into the service, or whenever the beginning of your last chapter was. Now, what you view as your values is probably very different from what it was before. It might feel wrong but it’s not, it’s just different.
The beginning of our last chapters
It is going to make you feel some kind of way, and that is ok. It is part of the process.
You also do not have to process it alone.
We’re thankful that we live in a time where there are countless organizations supporting servicemembers and military spouses in their transition from one life to another. If you’re looking for a place to start, we highly recommend connecting with The COMMIT Foundation, where you’ll receive a personalized transition plan and have the opportunity to have 1:1 support as you work through how to align your next chapter with your values. You can also tune into SpouseLink’s weekly livestream series to hear from other military families as they navigate their own transitions. If you’re more into working through a self-paced workbook, Vekita Full Potential is another great resource for anyone trying to figure out “what’s next”.
Check out our feature on SpouseLink where we shared what it means to "act out of the box"
Furthermore, we’re going through this right now, and we’d love to connect with others who are navigating through major life transitions. You’re already on our website if you’ve made it this far, so we look forward to hearing from you soon.
‘Til the next dreary day in bed,