GMP continues celebrating The Month of the Military Child.
I have never been able to call any one place home.
Growing up as a military child, my family lived as transplants, waiting for the next order to come down telling my father, and the rest of us, where to move. I certainly had no choice being born into a military family and never held any sway of changing the deployment process. Even if given the option to prevent these moves, I doubt the thought would have entered my mind. Packing up our belongings, moving, and starting all over again were engrained in my blood. This is the only lifestyle I knew and one that I loved.
As I mature into my adult years, the influence of this lifestyle is one I can see across my every decision. While I did not realize it at the time, being a military child changed how I view the world, provided me greater context for interactions with others, and opened my mind to a freedom that is often uncommon. Although I didn’t choose growing up in a military family, I have been able to choose my reaction to this upbringing and what it means for my reality.
From a young age, I grew accustomed to never settling; a trait I still possess. Although I never lived anywhere longer than four years throughout my childhood, since college I chose to constantly move across the country, explore different cities, and leap at the opportunity to move whenever the moment arises. I grew up with the nomadic life style but in turn have continued this path by choice.
Moving as an adult though has its differences. I can now dictate my own relocation schedule and choose how and where to live. The sense of freedom brought with maturity as opposed to the feeling of obligation present during childhood are ultimately the same sentiment just under different pretenses. No matter how I seek to rationalize it, constantly moving and changing is in my blood. I became accustomed to the beauty of wanderlust and have sought to continue this because it is comfortable.
This is not to say that constant movement is without burden. Now, as in my childhood, it can be difficult to leave friends behind, to end periods of my life, and to leap into the unknown. Growing up regularly on the move however taught me how to cope with these feelings, because to me they were normal.
For my fellow military children, or anyone whose family moved frequently, you likely understand. To us, moving is a part of life, change is essential to growth, and who we are is never defined by the idea of where we are from. Our upbringings engrained in us the distinct ability to move beyond the comfortable and into the unknown. It is exactly this concept of embracing the unknown that we should be thankful for. It is a trait we may not realize we possess, but one crafted through years of experience built around constant relocations.
Being a military child taught me we must define for ourselves our concept of home. To me, this concept is freedom, constant ability to travel, and world exploration. To another, home might be the house in which they grew, the shared family holidays, and the traditions held close. To yet another, home may bring up memories of loss or nostalgia. There is no one tangible definition of what it means to have a home or to be home. That is a decision we must all make, regardless of whether you come from a military background, had a family that relocated, or are from unchanging home where you were born and raised.
Pondering thoughts of home and determining what this concept means has been a necessary element of my growth. By defining home from my childhood, I have been able to determine what it is I want in crafting my own life, how I will share my concepts of home with others, and the paths I should take.
I am not sure if many people spend as much time addressing these concepts internally. For many, I think home is a less confusing idea to define. Yet this concept—the definition of home—is one we should all explore. It can help recall pivotal moments from the past, illuminate adequacies or inadequacies in the present, and draft a path for the future. Home is a constant concept; one that will evolve as we age. This evolution makes it an even more important concept to explore.
I am the product of a military family. To me, a home is nowhere but instead lies in the freedom of the unknown. This home works for me because it is grounded in the foundation of what I knew growing up and fits well with my desires now. This concept of home is my own. Others may agree with it or recognize kindred elements to their own definition, but no matter my definition, my home will always be different than another.
If you have not already done so, figure out what home means to you. I promise, it is worth the trip.
Image credit: Mike Babiarz/flickr