Military Experience and Lessons Learned. Read Sabrina's Story.
"I served in the US Navy for six years as an Arabic translator. I deployed five times to the Middle East, Europe and Africa, and encountered many beautiful opportunities as well as challenging struggles.
My decision to enlist was quite spontaneous. After graduating college with my degree in Family Social Science, I knew I wanted to help people but I didn’t desire to get my master’s degree. So, six months later, I went to the recruiter and I shipped away to my new life.
I appreciated my time in the military, I was given so many valuable life lessons and taught so many skills. I feel more capable and responsible in my daily life. I feel more confident to travel and take on challenges. I owe many thanks to my time in the military.
However, being a woman in the military still comes with its special challenges. The military, since its inception, has been founded upon lop-sided views of what it means to serve. This makes sense considering the military existed for many decades before women were allowed to serve. However, like anything in history, it is slow to change. In order to succeed as a woman, in many scenarios I had to harvest my “masculine” traits. And I don’t mean this to be a “man versus woman” argument, because men in the military are just as subject to the harsh realities of this harsh environment. Emotions are encouraged to be checked at the door, taken care of on our own time (which is technically never because once you’re a military member you are on the clock 24/7). You’re meant to show up and support the mission, often at the detriment of your own personal mental health and well-being. But, I digress.
With all that in mind, I have no regrets. My decision to leave the military was not because I was upset or angry, but actually because I am someone who believes truly and wholly in each person following their heart. Was leaving the military a wise financial decision? No, absolutely not. Was it the best and most successful decision for my future? There’s no way I will ever know that, it’s a silly question to contemplate. And who defines success anyway? That’s what I had to ask myself once I got out: “what does success mean to me?” But all I knew is that a whisper in my heart told me “it’s time to go.” And so I did.
Since being out (two years now) I have this burning urge to help those who serve (and those who don’t) to find their own internal guidance, rather than seeking guidance from the external. In the military, you sign a contract to “obey the orders of those appointed over you.” But, what I want to ask people (and especially those who serve) is: what if that conflicts with your own personal beliefs, morals, or values? What if the external (society, your boss, your leader, your family, your friends) are asking you to do something that you can sense isn’t right? Not trying to decide or consider this answer for anyone else, but for YOU. If you’re not being guided by yourself, then how often do you find yourself feeling out of alignment with what YOU came here in this life to do?
After getting out, I began traveling around the states and world, and I’m currently finding a new home and life in Australia. What I do for work now is a combination of what I studied the past ten years (both at University and in the military, as well as on my own personal time). I began my own online business, with a desire and passion to encourage others to get more in touch with themselves than they may have felt they had permission to do. However, I realize now that I’ll continue to face the barriers of the military system in trying to reach those still in it, or even those who have left.
Many of us live in limited beliefs. These limiting beliefs come in all shapes and sizes. The important thing that I have learned to do is to examine them, and see where I can find more space, love, and fullness in my life. By looking at these limitations and barriers I place on myself, I can begin to shed them and see beyond.
It’s too easy to blame the outside for my problems and suffering. But, what I try to do is take anything that happens to me, and realize it's actually happening for me. And whenever the outside is trying to distract me, that’s when it’s the best time to look internally.
If I'm not guided by my own heart, my own self, then who am I living my life for?"