On Living in the Present

Thanks to the trajectory of Andrew’s dental career, we’ve been in the rather unique situation of knowing our next PCS before we even got to our first. Because Andrew applied and was accepted to two Army residencies—one that began in August 2014 and one that will begin this July—before he even finished dental school, we knew before we got married that we would be spending less than a year at Fort Jackson for the first residency before up and moving again to Fort Bragg. As far as I know, most people don’t know their next PCS until a few months before they leave.

This has created an interesting situation for us. Not only did we have to find a place to live that would be okay with us only having an 11-month lease (luckily, we’re renting from another military family who understands our situation), we had to decide just how “settled” we wanted to get when we knew we’d be leaving in less than a year. To our credit, I think we’ve done a pretty good job at making our house a home, but even as we hung pictures and laid rugs in September, we laughed—a bit ruefully—that we’d be packing it all up again in nine short months.

We also decided that it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for me to look for a full-time job while we were here, since I’d have to leave it again so soon. I’ve done that before (see the job I started in August 2013 and left in June 2014 to move down here) and it’s not something I particularly enjoy—I would feel guilty to leave my employer in the wind after less than a year, despite the fact that it’s not something I can help. Not working has been hard, though, because I also feel guilty not contributing financially to the household…there’s just a lot of guilt all around. Plus the boredom from not working…

Despite our efforts to put down a few roots here in South Carolina, I still feel like I’m constantly looking to the future. I know this is temporary, and, more importantly, I know what will come after this, so even though I knew it didn’t make a lot of sense, I started looking for jobs and houses in Fayetteville months ago. I wonder if it’ll be easier to settle in Fayetteville, knowing that we’ll be there for at least two years (which will also be the longest I’ve lived in one place since my freshman year of college), or if I’ll be plagued by the constant anxiety that comes from not knowing what comes next.

I hope it’ll be the former. With help from Andrew, who I’ve almost never seen get worked up about anything, I’ve learned to stop myself from getting anxious or upset about things that are out of my control. I hope I’ll be able to enjoy our time in Fayetteville because we don’t know what’s coming next, rather than in spite of that. I hope I’ll be able to remind myself to live in the present, instead of worrying about the future—which, in the end, we can’t do anything about.

How do you stay present as a military member or spouse when everything is so impermanent?

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4 thoughts on “On Living in the Present

  1. As a military spouse of 30 years, my best advice is to jump in with both feet. Give each place you live everything you’ve got, and make it better than it was before you got there. As military spouses, we have to make friends fast. Be the one to reach out to others. Organize fun things to do and invite them to join you! You might just be helping someone else focus on the here and now, and you might make a friend for life. Volunteering is a great option when you can’t work. There are many options in both the military and civilian communities. Remember that volunteer work can enhance your resume too.

    • Thanks for the great advice! I’ve been volunteering here, and luckily I’ll actually be working when we move, which I’m really psyched about. Initiating contact with people is what’s going to be hard for me, but hopefully I’ll get better at that!

  2. Ugh, I sympathize for you. That’s certainly a difficult way to live. I can’t stand moving; it would make me anxious too. I’d definitely pick up a part-time gig and/or freelancing to keep myself busy, and use my free time for personal projects. Write a book! Learn a new language! Pick up an instrument! The world is your oyster lol 🙂

    • Haha, thanks! While we’ve been here, I applied to a bunch of part time jobs (bookstores, duh, but also Pier 1 and some others) and never got a single call. Seriously, I’m the perfect bookstore employee and NOTHING. =\ I think it’ll be a little easier to settle when we know we’ll be there for more than two years rather than less than a year, so there’s that, too. 🙂

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