By: Sunshine Burgess
“You see us as you want to see us– in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question?” ~ The Breakfast Club
When you are a child of the 80s, life was defined by John Hughes’ films. What we knew about life and love and acceptance, it often all came from the ideas that he instilled. One of the biggest misconceptions that new military spouses have about the spouses they will encounter during their career is that they are all crazy and drama filled. I am not sure if this comes from one particular source because the negatives seem to glare at you from every group on social media and all the TV shows and movies about military spouses and military life. Right away, new spouses are told to “stay away from the spouses” and “you will regret letting those women in your life”. I think that when it comes to military spouses, you can learn a lot from The Breakfast Club.
I won’t say that we are all wonderful, but meeting and interacting with a variety of people is life and, although we are a specialized sector, we are your life now. Think back to when you started school (elementary, high school, even college). You met lots of kids. Kids from different socioeconomic backgrounds, maybe even different parts of the country and world. Kids with parents who are married, divorced parents and same-sex parents. Kids of varying races and religions. Only children and children with many siblings. Kids from educated families and kids who may be the only child to ever get an education. Did you, in those circumstances, decide to stay away because the ones not 100% like you have to be crazy? I am guessing you didn’t. I would be willing to bet that you met them, maybe sized them up over time through conversations and interactions, and then you decided whether they were someone you could be friends with or not. Regardless to whether even a 10-year-old realizes they are doing it, they do this. That is why you will hear children say, “I just don’t like them.” It is okay to decide that someone isn’t your cup of tea, but you have to, at least, give them the opportunity.
I have found over my years as a military spouse that I have met and befriended so many women that I would likely have never met or given a chance before I married into this world. In fact, I have not only learned something about those women, but I have learned valuable things about myself along the way. The one thing I learned is that I don’t want all my friends to be exactly like me because I would be incredibly bored. If you look at the characters from The Breakfast Club, I would most align with the brain. I am a classic, type-A, overachiever. Left to my own vices, I would drive myself and all those around me insane. If you met me, you would never imagine there to be a situation where a basket case and I would interact, but we did. The basket case in my life came around when I was a new spouse and that basket case helped me navigate this life and showed me all the ways I could be involved and make a difference to others. I valued that basket case and still do, because as the brain, I wasn’t ready to put myself out there without weighing the pros and cons and using logic and reason. She had none of those inhibitions. She pushed me and I needed that.
I could tell you about all the various women I have met and all that they have done for me, but that would be a novel and not a blog. I won’t lie, there have been some horrible ones who brought no value to my life too, but as an independently thinking adult, I simply cut those ties. Like a 10-year-old, I said, “I just don’t like them.” Military spouses are no different than the people I met in college or at my first job or any other group I chose to join. Once I did my own “size up”, I place them into categories of sorts. There are the people I have no desire to further a relationship with (the reasons could be many), the ones who are acquaintances (not bad people but just not connecting) and then there are those who become lifelong friends (the ones you can count on even if it has been years since you have seen one another). If you choose to close yourself off from the possibilities, then you may miss out on finding that person who lasts a lifetime. Worse than that, you may never be shown how much more you have to offer and miss out on the opportunity to grow. I am so thankful for all the lessons I received about life and myself from all the varied characters in my life, even the Bender (not necessarily a criminal).