It’s a funny thing, advice. Everybody wants to give you advice for how to live your life, how to do something better, how to cope, how to manage, how to deal with whatever life is throwing at you. But all of that advice is going to stem from their experiences not yours which usually means it’s advice that is well-meaning, but might not apply. It’s not to say that all advice is useless. It’s not to say that nothing anybody has to tell you is of value.
But if you know nothing else about me, you need know that I have to learn everything the hard way. It’s not that I don’t take advice. It’s not that I don’t hear it. It’s not that I don’t value it. It’s that I just can’t seem to apply it to my life when the time is right. But what I can do is reflect and learn from my mistakes and look at my life lessons and laugh.
And one of the most interesting journeys of my life has been my journey with the military. I have learned more about who I am, who I am not, and who I want to be, from the five years in this life than I did in all of the years preceding. So I thought now would be a good time to look back at three of the lessons I’ve learned and the advice that I wish I could’ve given myself, though I probably wouldn’t have listened.
1. Adapt and overcome: you can’t change your life circumstances, you can’t alter what the military does, and you definitely cannot change the last-minute decisions made by your Marine or his command. But what you can do is adapt and overcome. This is a motto my husband taught me as one of the main Marine Corps mottos he lives by. And what I have learned from it is that no matter what happens in our life there is always a choice. The choice to do what you can to adapt to the situation you’re in and make the best of what you’re doing, or the choice to be defeated by it. You can choose to be defeated by every kink in your chain, by every altered plan; however, life is a heck of a lot easier if you just go with the flow.
2. Life will keep moving forward whether you wanted to or not: there have definitely been days, if not even weeks, that I looked around and couldn’t believe that the rest of the world was functioning because I felt like I was not. And I would have given anything to stop time–the days and weeks–leading up to my husband’s deployment. But the reality is that you can’t stop time, so regardless of why you wish you could, it’s best to cherish the good times you have, and know that time will move forward through the bad just as quickly as the good.
3. The Marine Corps doesn’t care that he is married: I learned this lesson pretty quickly. Ultimately, I didn’t sign the contract and the USMC is under no obligation to take care of me. This means that I am more of a fact of life they tolerate than anything. Their primary goal is to care for my husband, as it should be. I may be who he comes home to, but they are the ones that keep him alive, so I kind of have to respect our arrangement.
There have been so many things I’ve learned in the years of being married to a Marine. But these three things were probably the biggest lessons of them all. And man, if I were the type of person to take advice, I sure wish this advice had been given to me early, before I learned it the hard way.