Military Brats in a Civilian World

This is going to be a shorter blog post than usual because I have been struggling with my anxiety the past couple of days and am only just pushing myself to write something. I will do as much as I can for you dedicated readers.

My professor asked us this week to think about the story we want to tell. How did we come to find it? How are we attached to it? Why does it matter so much to us?  My story is a deeply personal one. I was born and raised into the military lifestyle. From a very young age I was exposed to moving, leaving, being a part of something bigger than myself. That is something I had to embrace. I was not simply a child; I was a part of the grander picture. It was my duty to make these sacrifices for the people and country that I love. Still, there were inevitably difficulties finding my identity in a world that was so constantly changing.

As I grew, the question continually came into my mind: What makes a person’s identity?

The usual answers would go along the lines of a person’s home, nationality, interests, morals, etc. Yet, in the military life, those were all fleeting. I didn’t have a home. My nationality was vastly different from the culture I was surrounded by. My interests changed depending on what activities were available on the bases my momma was stationed at. My morals stayed relatively the same, but they were buried inside of me because I was so isolated from the world I lived in.

I struggled through periods of adjustment. I worked to find a sense of self. I finally got used to the military and what I grew to know as my life. Then, I graduated from high school and was thrown into a surrounding which didn’t accept or understand who that person was.

The civilian world was terrifying to me.

Most of the people I talked to knew their answer to the question “Where are you from?” My college friends all had lived in the same place their entire lives. Their friends lived right down the street from them. They’d never traveled outside of the state, let alone outside of the country. They didn’t know the type of humor and environment I was raised in. I stood in the middle of a well-established community and wondered, once again, about my identity.

This journey I have traveled on led me to think of all the others suffering from the same struggle. Those of us who grew up in the military are foreign to any place we go, and often we find ourselves flocking together just so somebody understands.

So, this book for class is my attempt at a solution to the problem. Even if one civilian person reads this and takes the time to befriend one military brat, that’s one less person who feels isolated and alone.

2 thoughts on “Military Brats in a Civilian World

  1. Hi Kayla — Really nice job incorporating Rabiner’s wisdom into your thinking. I agree that it’s a smart move to present/explore the lives of “military brats” as “a subculture which has not often been written about.” One approach that really stands out, from a serious nonfiction standpoint, would be to structure the book as part memoir and part sociological investigation of broader themes. I think it’d be compelling to use anecdotes from your own experience to establish a first-person perspective on what it’s like growing up as a military brat, and then use specific scenes as jumping off points into the psychological aspects of being constantly on the move, switching among different cultures, forcing yourself to adapt to new settings at a young age. In this way, you can interweave accounts from your life with those others’ experiences and some relevant insights from whatever research helps us understand it all better. Let me know if you have any questions about my comments, or would like to run any new ideas by me.



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