The journey to re-inventing oneself is usually birthed out of a major event of some sort in one’s life. It’s that event that prompts the need or desire for change and re-inventing and becoming a new you.
For 23 years, I took my role as an army officer’s wife very seriously and was proud to have the title. Now don’t get me wrong, I was not one to “wear your husband’s rank” by no means! I carried out the role as a supportive spouse. There were military functions that we often attended. There were wives’ functions that I attended. There was always a protocol to be followed. Life on military bases had its advantages and disadvantages. Depending on where we were stationed, in country or overseas, dictated what type of job I held or was able to obtain. In the early days of my life as an army spouse, I attempted to earn my master’s degree.
However, I never got passed studying for the entry level testing. Between motherhood and duties of an officer’s wife, my roles left me little time to focus on furthering my education. As the years unfolded, the multiple deployments began to pile on. Then came the first day of the rest of my life, 911. War destroys! Period! I consider the end of my marriage as a casualty of war! Loss occurs not only on the battlefield but also in the personal lives of military families.
It was 2005 and I found myself on the threshold of 2 worlds, neither of which I was familiar with, single and civilian! Two major adjustments! I was in my mid 40’s with a bachelor’s degree I hadn’t really used. I mean I worked throughout the years, but the jobs varied, depending on the duty station! What do I do now! How do I go on? What do I do with myself! It would take several years before I could even begin the process. Why? Because I had to allow myself the time to process the emotions that arose from being a divorced military spouse who was now thrust into the world of civilian life. I recall one evening, one exceedingly difficult evening of hurt and pain that drew tears that flowed for what seemed hours. I remember laying on the floor as the tears flowed. After what seemed hours, I recall saying to myself “when I get up off this floor, I am going to start re-building my life, I’m going to re-invent myself” and I did! It was a long journey, but it was a journey that has brought me to who I am today.
At 45 years of age, I realized I needed to obtain additional education in order to secure a job that would allow me to support myself. I enrolled in a program where I would ultimately earn a master’s in education. I recall the first day of class I was sooo overwhelmed! Not only were my fellow classmates 20 years my junior, but the professor was talking about PowerPoints and flash drives, neither of which I had ever learned how to do! God was watching out for me because he surrounded me with a wonderful cohort. We all realized that we each had a strength that we could bring to the table. Each of our strengths enabled us to successfully complete not only our assignments but the program. Upon earning my master’s degree, I worked in education as a Professional School Counselor (no, we are no longer called Guidance Counselors!), bought a home, and began rebuilding my life. The journey was a struggle! There were days of fear, anger, anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness, and hopelessness. However, there were also days of courage, joy, confidence, and hope as I began to see the “light at the end of the tunnel.” As time passed, life changes occurred, and the seasons of life continued to change, a hint of forgotten dreams arrived on my doorstep. I began to resurrect those dreams. Paula G Voice was born.
Early in the days of my new life I was asked a simple question. Who is Paula? My identity was so tied to motherhood and that of a military spouse, that I could not really articulate who I was. Very sobering. I had to find myself and be able to define who I was as a woman, a single woman with now adult children.
When it comes to re-inventing yourself, the journey has to begin from the inside out. I had a lot of emotions, and feelings that I had to work through before I could even begin to explore my new possibilities. There is so much talk about mindset these days. I used to close my radio shows with this phrase “the greatest conversation you will ever have is the one that takes place in between your ears.” A conversation that could change the trajectory of life! New doors began to open for me. The confidence grew! The opportunities increased! The re-invention had begun!
My previous life seems so distant now, but I would not trade it for it prepared me for my current journey! You can be the change that you desire. You can make the changes you desire. You can walk into a new season of your life! The journey is not always easy, but it is doable.Never give up! Press forward and embrace your journey!