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A Note To My Younger Self

Jennifer McDonald
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tagged: military life
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It’s probably a good thing I had no idea what I was getting into twenty-four years ago when I fell in love with the handsome airman who would become my husband. I’d spent my whole life in the same small town, was clueless about military life, and honestly didn’t even know what questions I should ask. Been there?

Oprah Winfrey recently wrote a letter to her younger self, which started me thinking about what I would tell my own “newly married to the military” 20-year-old self. For those of us a few miles down the road, we simply aren’t the same person we were at that age. But other than the tight bod and unwrinkled skin, I wouldn’t trade places with that younger woman! The hard-won lessons I’ve learned are too dear to me to wish to turn back the hands of time now.

But if I could write a letter to that quiet, insecure girl, here’s what I’d tell her:

Don't worry so much about what people think. There will always be someone who will find fault with what you're doing, so go ahead and live your life. You can't please everyone, and you'd probably be a little bit boring if you could.

Keep your sense of humor. You’ll need it when the washer leaks, the baby has croup, and your eight-year-old needs stitches…all on the first day of a long deployment. You’ll need it on hour 14 of a 22-hour labor. The tears will come too, but learn the art of laughing at yourself and these ridiculous situations. It will stand you in good stead and go a long way towards smoothing over the rough spots.

Embrace the new. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. “Different” doesn’t equal “bad.” You’re about to learn a lot about the world, and, through that lens, about yourself. Yes, you had a great upbringing surrounded by loving family, but don't be afraid now to step out of that circle. You'll be ok.

All those places you've dreamed about visiting? Yeah, you'll see Paris. And Rome and London, too. In the words of Dr. Seuss, oh, the places you’ll go! I swear I’m not making this up—you'll snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, live on Pacific islands, ski in the Alps, travel in Europe, and live overseas for at least five years. Hang on for a great ride!

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