Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome
Have you ever wondered, how did my life end up this way? When did it happen? At what point did my plans start spinning out of control and land me where I currently am? Of course, you have! I have yet to meet a single person who has said that life has turned out exactly as they thought it would.
Twenty years ago, if you asked me what I saw my life being like, it would not have been as a single mom of three in her early 30s, working in the financial industry in North Carolina. I swore that I was made to be an attorney, fighting for the downtrodden of the world with a stint in NYC. Motherhood and weddings did not appeal to me, though adoption in my 30s was an option.
Before I completed college in New York, I fell deeply in love with a Marine and wanted to make his dreams a reality, forgetting my own. For several years, he walked on water and I counted my lucky stars to have the love of such a good man. And then he was gone. Everything I poured into him was not enough to maintain his fidelity, and I found myself in a state that was far from any family or roots, and the dreams and hopes I had formed with him ripped from my soul where my heart had knit them together.
I took shelter in the Triangle. I bought my first house and invested heaps of sweat equity turning this former bachelor pad into a home for my children and I. In an attempt to find myself again, I took the LSAT…twice, because I am a glutton for punishment. But the reality was that law school would have been a massive time investment at exactly the time that my children needed my presence as they transitioned to one parent. So I bore down, took the GRE, and pursued a Masters in Trust and Wealth Management. I had already done years of financial counseling at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, why not stay the course!
While I was married, I lost my unique identity. Instead, I fully embraced my status as his wife; the volunteer, advocate of the military service member, or as one Lieutenant Colonel said, “the epitome of motherhood and apple pie”. I quite literally baked apple pies in mason jars and shipped hordes of them overseas. It gave me joy to know he was proud of his dutiful wife.
If I had it to do all over again, I would hope to remember my identity. Remember and honor what made me, me. Now that it is in the past, I can’t say that I would trade it for a less painful experience. In that pain and quite frankly, fear, I learned that I love who I am. I love my heart and conviction to do right at all times, even when it goes unnoticed. I learned to improvise, adapt, and overcome. Perhaps, if the lesson had not taken so much time and cost so much heartache, I would not feel it so intimately as a universal truth. And I can say boldly, that I would do it all again for all that was ultimately gained.
I mentioned in my last post, that I came to the Triangle with no roots. Other than my patient realtor, I did not know a soul when moving to this area. What I have found so comforting about the Triangle is that my being new to the area, is commonplace. In the military culture that I had just left, everyone is far from home and had no family or long-term friends nearby. So, at least with the crowds that I drifted towards, you become family and friends nearly immediately. Interestingly, this civilian world I am now in is not much different.
We don’t have tanks rolling down the road, or osprey helicopters landing in a field next to the grocery store, but we have a beautiful camaraderie born out of necessity and initial discomfort. We can stay in our homes and our bubbles and complain about how homesick we are, or we can reject complacency and embrace new people, which is something that I see happening in groups, like Networking Women of The Triangle. And there is no better descriptor for this taking place, than “beautiful”.
It doesn’t happen without effort, but I guarantee that the effort is minimal compared to the rewards. It takes a bit of boldness to reach out to a stranger with a desire to understand and grow, and yet it happens in these groups every day with growing frequency.
If you’ve yet to explore the possibilities in our area, I encourage you to wait no longer. The Triangle is the new melting pot of America and opportunity for friendships, exciting careers, culinary exploration, and personal fulfillment are all at our fingertips. So post a question, join a meet-up, and let’s continue to build this inspiring community of learners, communicators, encouragers, and trailblazers!
Caroline Ann – Mother, Blogger, & Badass.