When Your Husband is Right, Prove Him Wrong
My husband recently informed that I am full of excuses. When he suggests I run for a political office, I pull out a laundry of list of rehearsed reasons why I shouldn’t. When he tells me to put more time and effort into my writing, somehow my 3-year old flower child commands so much attention that I can’t possibly sit down and take a few minutes to put my fingers on the keypad. While I know this exact admission will be recorded in digital date and time, I have to admit, he’s right. So when a professional friend approached me for the 27th time about going in business together, I remembered my We Bought a Zoo moment, and said why not. So it appears I have a plan? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m going with it. If nothing else, I have a fancy business card and some probate stamped articles of organization that say we are official. Oh and I have $7 in a checking account. We are in business. So I went from being unemployed to self-employed in kind of a flash. Now in true obsessive fashion, I’m having a mild freak out, coming up with every reason why we won’t be successful, stressing because the business plan isn’t written, the by-laws aren’t signed, the master bedroom office space is chaos. Oh and how in creation am I going to run a business and still follow my soldier husband around like a lost puppy?
The Army has always been my Achilles heel. Yes, personally, because unlike families who plan vacations a year out and who always have a huge family celebration around God knows what holiday, my family can’t exactly offer specific dates for such functions. It’s always a maybe we’ll go on a cruise…if you’re not Afghanistan, if you’re not in some classified training in the woods, if you’re even on the same continent at proposed date and time. Maybe we can have a weekend away for our anniversary…if you can get a weekend pass…if we’re near one person close to us who could guard our child’s life overnight…if we even feel like it after the exhausting juggling act that is our Monday through Friday life.
But the Army laughs in the face of my professional life a lot more frequently than my personal. Allow me to paint you a picture- out of sheer determination, ambition, and drive, I make it a point to frequently hop a plane to DC and cram whatever ounce of networking opportunity I can into a structured and often small time frame. I went often when I worked for local government, and now I just go on my own dime, or on my business’ $7 budget, which makes the goal even more definable-do something that will eventually pay you back for the dough you just dropped on this trip. It’s simple math, find a way to get a return on your investment. So I go and cavort with the DC clique-uncomfortably, awkwardly-and I get an almost scripted reaction from most people I come across. “What do you do in DC?” And then, as I flash my snazzy logo-ed business card and I carefully explain my complex life arrangement, married to the Army, committed to a 3 year old, driven by politics, writing, women’s empowerment, and a keen awareness that I belong in DC in as few words as possible so as not to confuse and overwhelm my listener, I can see the alarms going off in their head. And then they follow up with, “So you live in DC now?” What I want to say is, okay, were you not listening or is the drink in your hand just that strong? See, in my mind, my story is wildly entertaining and quite compelling, I’ve learned in the short amount of time that I’ve been on my own, maybe my story really doesn’t make sense to the average Joe. Heck, it rarely makes sense to me.
I leave the scene and within 48 hours fulfill my commitment to follow up with any and all contacts via email, try to home run the fact that no, I don’t live in DC, but you should expect me there soon. In fact, I live in Alabama, I know your drink was delicious and I don’t have the southern drawl, so I don’t expect you to remember. I don’t exactly say that, but my very impressive photographic memory comes in handy and I casually mention a part of our conversation and hope it will spark some memory so we can stay connected. Oh, and then reiterate the “You should expect me in DC soon.” Soon in Army terms could mean tomorrow, it could mean 3 years. I remain optimistic most days. See, quite comical really.
I have a feeling most people read my genuine email and trash it, some respond with a shallow thanks, because let’s face it: They’re the ones in DC, what could they possibly need me for? And what could I do for them? I could write an entire thesis to present my case, but occasionally, I am lucky to have the one or two people who take me at face value, appreciate my vulnerability, and really do stay in touch. In fact, one of those people has coached me all along the way in this transition.
And that person recently asked me what is my greatest fear? You mean, besides starting a business, relying on myself and my partner to bring home the bacon, being miles away from success? When I get uncomfortably introspective, the point is, I’m worried I don’t belong. What place does someone like me have in a work world where babies, husbands, and definitely the military don’t mix?
And there go the excuses again. Which means my husband is right again and I must continue my very personal mission to always prove him wrong.
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