Fighting Frustration

While I have fallen into quite the rhythm here in Mississippi and things are going excellently regarding living with my boyfriend, I find myself feeling increasingly frustrated. Not with him, thankfully (although the toilet seat told me that it feels more comfortable when it’s placed in its upright position…).

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I find frustration with my current uncontrollable state of life. I am frustrated that I graduated Magna Cum Laude from a four-year university, I boast an impressive resume, and I speak two languages, yet I spend my days driving around to local businesses to deposit my resumes into the hands of several disinterested receptionists and secretaries. I am frustrated because I have spent a decade of nights scribbling calculus formulas and rewriting history lessons into hundreds of notebooks until I fall asleep at the dining room table. Even though I was mentally and physically drained, I buttoned my crisp black blazers in my tiny college dorm room and dragged myself to business meetings, proving myself until assuming the position as organization president. I chipped and polished myself into the best and most marketable version of myself. I was proud of my accomplishments, my Linkedin profile, my resume.

But yet today, I am sitting on a cheap tan couch that is much too small for the two of us to fit, clipping coupons out of the newspaper. I make my daily drive to Wal-Mart in hopes of a shipment of a new and more attractive placemat selection. I listen to Netflix run repeats of my shows in the background of the washer whirring and the dishwasher clanking. I sit at the cleared kitchen table, neatly nail-polished fingers folded in my lap, in search of another task. I ache to dread waking up for work in morning. I envy my friends complaining of their bosses. I search for validation that I always received through academic or professional work.

I am in constant cognitive dissonance. Psychology defines this as mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. I feel strong, successful, and accomplished. Then I lie in bed at 8 am, listening to the apartment doors slam around me as the residential community clears out to their workplaces, and I feel small. I feel useful, valuable, and independent. Then I refresh my email feed for the tenth time in thirty seconds, needing there to be a new message waiting for me from one of the several applications I have submitted, and I feel undesired. I feel excited, hopeful, and ambitious. Then I wonder what our next military base location will offer for careers, will I have to settle? I feel lost, and grasping for a control that I will never know the feeling of in my hands.

I went through my health low. I had the scare of what will my life be, what can’t I do, what dreams do I have to give up? Then I changed my diet, I assumed power over my organs and their function, and I got better. This is supposed to be my time. I was supposed to hit the bottom of the bucket, then soar. I was supposed to have the hard times, recover from them, and come back stronger than ever. Not that I am not immensely tougher, because I can feel that I am. But I have already felt helpless, hopeless, and dependent. I was supposed to break free from that.

I see articles with titles like “How Military Marriage Screws Up Your Career”, and I think, what about all that I’ve worked for? What about those late nights studying, the missed parties and college sacrifices for a competitive GPA that is trumped by who I picked to love? Syracuse University conducted a study that showed that 90 percent of female spouses reported being underemployed or overqualified for the positions they hold. An article from Military.com also notes that compared with civilian wives matched by age, education, race and geographic location, military wives are less likely to work in a given year, work fewer weeks per year, and are less likely to work full-time. They also earn statistically lower wages than matched civilian wives in all types of jobs. I get sucked into the drain of searching for how I can live my best life with the best guy.

But I have to realize that I am living that life already. I need to remind myself, and maybe even one day I’ll finally start to believe it, that I don’t find my value in a job and I never have. I have found my value in my friendships and my loved ones. I have found my worth in my hobbies, my art, my writing. A career, if it fits my skills and my location at the time, will fall into place when it is meant to. With a boyfriend so understanding and nurturing, I could not possibly be in a more secure situation. I don’t do the household chores because I feel meaningless and try to earn my keep. I do it because I know my military boyfriend woke up at 4:30 am and is coming home late and he’ll appreciate it. Loving him and choosing him is not the downfall of a career start; it’s the beginning of a beautiful life. And I know that I will get bored easily if I work a part-time job that I don’t love one day, but that’s not what life is about.

Life is about the two of us kicking off our sandals the night we move into our first place, jumping up and down on our new bedroom carpet because we like how soft it feels. Life is about discussing politics for hours in a car that is transporting us through the hills and cotton fields of Alabama. It’s listening to rock music and gliding through the kitchen simultaneously cooking dinner. It’s his kiss on my forehead when he sees it wrinkled in stress. It’s picking him and his lifestyle every single day, because no job has the same influence as pulling back the covers and curling up to him after a hard day and feeling that nothing could possibly be negative when I’m in those arms.

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