“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a life” - Maya Angelou
Lately, I’ve been sharing photos to friends and family on social media of our travels across Europe and settling into our home in England. Since Ryan isn’t very active on social, people look to me to post photos of what he/we are up to. Ryan and I did a mini love photoshoot in Amsterdam with our dear friend and wedding photographer, India, that I recently posted on Facebook. Someone posted a playful jab on one of those photos that he’d like to be "refreshed" with a photo that included an F-15 in it.
This most definitely isn’t the first time people have promptly changed whatever Ryan and I were doing as a couple to, "how's flying, dude?!" This re-sparked my thoughts onto a theme that has been present ever since I started dating Ryan.
People love his career.
WHY wouldn’t they?! Honestly. I’ve seen him work his tail off to accomplish one of the hardest, most prestigious and badass jobs a person can have. You bet your bottom I’m proud and that I will take the opportunity to brag for him. I have no issue letting him take the main stage when someone asks the inevitable question, “So what do you guys do?” I get it, my job is not nearly as impressive and that's okay.
What people forget, however, is that I am an individual, human woman, who has her own identity, passions, hobbies, and career path. I am a proud fighter pilot wife, but I am also a creative, writer, photographer, social media content creator, outdoor adventurer, snowboarder, and traveler. I have every intention of pursuing my own identity, on and off line.
Ryan is a fighter pilot, but he’s also an avid reader, French language enthusiast, skier, amateur guitar player, cook, and traveler. Also a professional Instagram husband.
We are more than what we do. The aforementioned aren’t even the most important aspects of who we are and who we want to be, despite what our culture tell us.
Being a good person, living a life with purpose outside of our office, developing healthy habits both mentally and physically, growing spiritually…that’s what matters. We are not perfect by any means, so Ryan and I constantly talk about ways we can be more kind, more generous, more empathetic, how we can be solid community members of our squadron and locally, and how we can be inclusive. We try to eat healthier and develop meaningful tactics on how to live well physically, mentally and emotionally. We value how we can be a good husband, wife, daughter, son, and sibling, and also how we can better ourselves as individuals and pursue independence.
Say it with me: In the end, what you do for a job doesn’t matter. Who you are does.
There are some not-so-great (to put it nicely) individuals that are in really impressive positions both within the corporate AND military world. There are also some really beautiful, wonderful people who are grocery clerks.
What you do means nothing if you don't value who you are without it.
Since being fully immersed in the military world, I had to choose this marriage over being a full-time working woman. This has been a blessing in disguise, because it is teaching me how to live a life of purpose without having a specific title. Same goes for my husband. I was quite proud when he chose not to wear his formal military mess dress on our wedding day because he felt it was important to keep his career and personal life separate. In the end, he is not his job, he is not the Air Force. I am not his nor my own.
Don't get me wrong, we both cherish our tangible accomplishments, as we should! Careers are important in order to do what we want in life, but there is no reason to completely identify with it.
What we will really treasure down the road are those sunsets in Italy, being in awe of the Swiss Alps, helping our neighbors, moving frequently, developing meaningful friendships, breakdowns and breakthroughs, the petty arguments on how we should set up the living room, and long hikes in the wilderness. We will remember the human moments.
So, am I done posting and talking about Ryan’s fighter pilot career? No. Am I going to let it define myself, our life experiences and our marriage? Also no.