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Leaving One World for Another

by Janet Farley

It’s your turn to transition from the military world to the civilian one.

You can expect to experience some new and perhaps terrifying realizations along the way.

Here are a few that may sneak up behind you, tap you on the shoulder and attempt to ruthlessly upend your world at some point.

Knowing about them now may help you better deal with them later.

You only thought you were in control.

You may have planned for this moment in time for years. Or not. Perhaps your big transition was unceremoniously and unexpectedly forced upon you for any number of unexpected, unwarranted or untimely reasons.

Regardless of how you arrived at this crossroad, you are there nonetheless and things may not go as you expect.

Control, as it turns out, is merely illusion my friend.

While that illusion may have seemed to serve you well over the years, don’t expect it to play nice with you when you completely change up the scenery that you call your life.

Rx: Get back to basics.

When the illusion of control is misplaced, or worse, lost altogether, then it may help to implement one or more of these moves:

Potential Realization

You may be the only one happy about your imminent military to civilian transition.

Not everyone will get on the “thrilled that it’s time to get out” bandwagon with you.

Don’t be surprised if your co-workers, even the ones you like, start to throw subtle shade (knowingly or not) your way. Your spouse and/ or your children might also be a little apprehensive, as well. This professional transition may center on your career but it is their lives that are are also being directly affected.

Rx: Show a little compassion where you can.

Yes, it’s your transition and all eyes are on you. No matter how hard you try, everyone in your world, even if they appear to be happy on the outside, may not be happy on the inside that you’re moving on.

You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try. It would be decent of you, however, to appreciate, acknowledge and minimize the impact zones where they occur.

Open, honest and clear communication is a great tool for achieving those goals.

Potential Realization

You may experience a loss of identity when you first become a civilian and even as you end your days in uniform.

For however long you’ve been in uniform, you’ve had a stable sense of who you were. If you ever doubted it, all you had to do was look down at your uniform, read your nametag and be reminded of the fact that you were a brave, audacious, risk-taking warrior with good looks to boot.

When you take off that uniform, you probably won’t have the nametag to rely on anymore.

You may even feel like you’re stuck in-between two very different worlds, not quite out of the old one and definitely not completely at home in the new one. It can be disconcerting, to say the least.

Rx: Give yourself time.

Your military to civilian career transition will not happen overnight. Change takes time and sometimes lots of it. Don’t rush the process. Trust the process.

One day in the future (when exactly, who really knows), you will once again feel like you are where you’re supposed to be.

Regardless of how long you have served, leaving the military behind can bring about conflicting emotions. Take some time to adjust to your new civilian persona, and help those around you do so, too, for a successful second act.

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