For someone whose blog is entitled “My Life, Army Style,” I’ve noticed my blog doesn’t contain all that much of either. ;-) This isn’t intentional, as I think of blog posts all the time but never get around to actually composing them. But today I’d like to talk about a military-related topic that I’m pretty passionate about: negativity towards duty stations.
I didn’t realize until I had been an Army wife for a few years and started being around military spouses how many of them hate where they have to live. And I see it more and more all the time. It has started becoming a source of frustration to me. That’s not to say I haven’t had to learn my own lessons in this area. I believe I have mentioned here about the meltdown I had when I found out we were moving to Ft. Bliss/El Paso, TX! However, perhaps my meltdown would never have occurred had I not been hearing for years what a horrible place it was and having people pity me once they found out where we were going. Once I started doing my own research, I realized the importance of having an open mind and experiencing things for yourself before forming an opinion. I’ll also never forget what a wonderful thing it was when, in the chorus of “I’m sorrys” and “ughs” on my Facebook post announcing our move, a friend of mine who was a more senior spouse (and I intend to do another post soon on why all junior military spouses should spend time with senior spouses) sent me a message to tell me how much she and her family had enjoyed Ft. Bliss, that they still missed it, and that they were so happy for me that I was going to experience it too. Talk about a reality check. =) That was the moment when I decided that I was going to have a positive mindset about every place we were sent, no matter what negativity people were trying to pass along to me.
Having been here in El Paso for almost a year now, I can without hesitation say that I really like it here. There are a few aspects I am not a fan of (such as the wind storms and no Trader Joe’s!), but overall the good far outweighs the bad. Here are a few of them:
- There is some crazy good food here. And it’s not all Mexican either.
- There is an awesome outlet mall, plus 2 regular malls.
- Ft. Bliss has the nicest PX/commissary/restaurant/movie theater plaza of any Army post, and amazing free gyms.
- You can drive to the mountains in 15 minutes and go hiking.
- Desert sunsets and sunrises.
- You get a tan without even trying.
That’s just a few things. Is this my favorite place in the world and do I want to stay here forever? Well no. But can I live here happily and contentedly with my husband for the few years we are going to be here? A thousand times yes. And even though I am still known to make statements like, “Ugh, I’m going to die if we ever got sent to Ft. Bragg!” that’s just talk, because I know that if it came right down to it, I could have a good attitude about Ft. Bragg too. When you talk to military couples (the mature kind) who tell you they loved and miss places like Ft. Irwin, CA or Ft. Polk, LA, it really gives you some perspective. And if you want to understand the significance of that statement, just go on Google maps and put those places in the search bar. Go on, I dare you. ;-) But that’s when you realize that attitude makes all the difference. It isn’t always that the physical place turns out to be amazing; sometimes it’s the amazing people you meet there instead.
For someone like me who has made up her mind to be positive about places and the military in general, I can’t tell you how draining it is to be around someone who is constantly complaining. I know nobody ever wants to hear this, but happiness does NOT depend on your circumstances. You CAN choose to be positive, to let little annoyances roll off your back, to not think everybody you meet who isn’t gushingly polite to you is being a product of their locale, and not to blame everything bad that happens on where you are being forced to live. I know we all have bad days/times and need to vent, but after awhile, if a person has done more dragging me down than me lifting them up, I give up. Being positive is hard enough on your own without being in the company of negative people. Even if you’ve tried your hardest to like a new place and you can’t, you are only making it worse for yourself (not to mention your husband!) by giving in to constant negativity.
So with all this in mind, I thought I’d jot down some of my tips for handling a not-so-welcome PCS and duty station. =)