As a daughter of a man in the Air Force, I identify with several other teenagers and young adults who are part of the military culture. While my father’s career was not a choice I made, I chose to embrace the “military brat” moniker. Sure, it’s tough, but growing up in this culture and environment taught me valuable lessons that help set me for life as a young adult.
One of the things particularly instilled in me is punctuality. There goes a saying, “early is on time; on time is late.” I would always strive to at least be 15 minutes early to any appointment or meeting. This gives me enough time to prep, especially for any sudden changes that may come up. It also shows professionalism, as well as good time management skills. Harriet Mellotte, a cognitive behavioral therapist and a clinical psychologist, wrote, “The punctually-challenged are often excruciatingly aware and ashamed of the damage their lateness could do to their relationships, reputations, careers, and finances.”
When people think of the armed forces, “discipline” is often the first word to come to mind. It’s no different when it comes to us children. No room or time for rebellious phases and acts. If I’ve committed myself to work on something, I stick to it. On how to improve one’s self-discipline, psychotherapist Amy Morin has this to say: “Visualize yourself meeting your goals and reaping the rewards that you’ll gain by practicing self-discipline on a daily basis.”
Growing up, I would gradually develop self-discipline. I didn’t need to wait for my father to point out something before I acted upon it or fixed it myself. Although fixing myself wasn’t always the best thing for me, something I didn’t realize until speaking with a therapist online.
Nowadays, people like to call out my generation for acting very entitled. We “millennials” supposedly have everything given to us on a silver platter. I beg to differ. Growing up, I had to work for everything I needed and wanted. This isn’t to say that my parents didn’t provide me with my basic needs, but it also wasn’t just easily given to me all the time.
I had my own household chores and responsibilities. If I wanted the new Harry Potter book, I had to work for it, not just ask for it. This helped me to develop great work ethics to the point that I don’t even like staying idle for too long. “Kids who do chores learn to take responsibility. Instead of letting others do the work, they look for ways to contribute,” says Dona Matthews, Ph.D.
As military families often have to move, we have to move away from the homes we’ve just started to get used to. This means having to leave behind new friends and new spaces. That doesn’t mean having to permanently say goodbye, develop depression and completely lose connection. I’ve kept in touch with many of the friends I made growing up.
Regardless, my experience has taught me to not get too attached. Don’t make houses out of people. I’ve learned to be able to stand on my own and deal with having to move away. I can still keep in touch with people, and I can go back to visit old spaces in the future.
Learning New Cultures
I’m sure many will agree with me that even simply moving to another state means dealing with a different culture. Growing up, I’ve been exposed to different types of people, activities, interests, beliefs and even cuisine and music. This is probably one of my favorite things about being a military brat.
I’ve been able to learn so much from different cultures, and I’ve taken up many values within myself. It’s beautiful being able to see how diverse people can be. I’ve learned to be more accepting and even fond of this diversity.