After connecting with freelance writer and military spouse Tiffany Silverberg via Twitter, I e-mailed her a couple of times to request advice for a journalism major hoping to freelance, visited her website and signed up for her newsletter. Her most recent newsletter included an exercise in self-branding, which required sticky notes. I’m up for anything that requires Post-Its. I carry Post-Its in my purse and in my padfolio, and use them for everything from planning the week’s assignments and deadlines to leaving notes on Alan’s truck when I stop by his office (I now sometimes simply leave blank Post-Its, because I don’t know of anyone else who leaves hot pink, heart-shaped Post-It notes anywhere). Anyway.
These are the words I used to define myself and will spend the next week or two contemplating as I decide which three best define me:
+ future military spouse
I chose “journalist” since I’m majoring in journalism and write for/edit the college newspaper. And I love it. Finding stories. Learning. Organizing interviews into flowing text. Editing stories (mine and other writers’) and then seeing the finished product in newsprint gives me such a feeling of accomplishment.
“Historian” defines me because my co-concentration is history. I love history, especially the personal side of history. While my dad and his friend are comparing guns at the Baltimore antique arms show, I’m busy rifling through old photos and letters (I’m especially fond of WWII memorabilia and German death cards). This also may be due to the fact that all antique weapons look basically the same to me: wood + metal + destructive power = almost every gun ever constructed.
“Future military spouse” is one with which I have a love/hate relationship. I don’t want to consider myself a “military spouse” because it seems that many women who define themselves as such consider it their job. I simply happen to be engaged to man who simply happens to be a member of the uniformed services. I doubt he plans to run around saying that he’s a journalist’s spouse. I’ve never seen any woman wearing a shirt that says “Half of my heart is on an oil rig in the Pacific.” Police officers’ wives do not seem to even have the same measure of community that military members’ wives do — and their husbands risk their lives every day of their careers, as opposed to every day of their deployments. Nevertheless, my mom put the issue in different light while we were at Ft. Bragg. After spotting a license plate that read “ARMY WIFE” on a background of pink camo, she said that those wives were simply proud of what their husbands did. Ouch. But, it worked. I temporarily hopped off of my soap box. Maybe some women are just more vocal about their pride. Which makes sense, since after Alan earned an award at the company party during ATC, it wasn’t until after the party was over that I finally told him that I was proud of him. It somehow makes me feel like a mom, not a significant other, but that cannot get in the way of expressing my pride and joy to him.
I’ve managed to mostly come to terms with being a future military spouse. The military may be more of a lifestyle than a career, but I have decided who I am and what I want, and I will find a way to make the Army work with that, instead of completely taking it over and leaving me confused and lost when Alan retires.
I selected “Christian” because my faith is central in my life. I was reared in a Christian household, and believe that faith is a relationship, not a religion. Alan’s love, for example, is a tangible, earthly reflection of Christ’s unconditional love for me (and it wasn’t until I met Alan that I truly understood Christ’s unconditional love, because parental unconditional love is different).
Although “writer” and “journalist” share qualities, I still feel that “writer” is different in that it focuses more on self-expression and long prose, rather than the more timely work of journalists.
Finally, being an adoptee is an important facet of my life — I mean, we’ve partially centered the wedding and selected the date because of that fact. In high school (those awkward, emo, find yourself years), being the only Korean student while also loving scrapple and hunting groundhogs was an odd experience, and I hated being different. I was the only Korean in my Tae Kwon Do (a Korean martial art) class. I had no idea how to make eye makeup work for my eye shape (fortunately, I’ve since discovered Mary Kay). Fortunately, during senior year of high school, I finally accepted myself the way God made me.
During freshman orientation of college, a Chinese ESL student approached me and greeted me in Chinese, thinking that I must be a “real” Asian since I look Asian. The running joke on campus is that I’m a fasian (“fake” Asian) or a twinkie (yellow on the outside, white on the inside). Since then, I’ve also studied Mandarin for three semesters, and now, anyone on campus can watch a Korean tutor Mandarin with an American accent. And, since Alan and I have started holding hands and being together in Asian communities (near an Army base, in Williamsburg, in Washington, D.C. and in Philadelphia), being confident of who I am has really saved me from spontaneously combusting from disapproving Asian glares.
Don’t forget to check out the newsletter. What three words define you?