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What Does It Mean to Truly Grow Up: Opinion Essay

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Growing up in a military family is not always an easy feat. One thing that military “brats” share is a familiarity with moving and establishing new “homes”, often far across the country or even overseas. At a young age, one learns how to drop everything, say goodbye to friends after just getting to know them, and dutifully pack for the next assignment.

Early on, children in military families face the inevitable overflow of values from their parents and surrounding environment. Unconsciously it shapes who we are and ultimately who we become. For me, growing up in a military culture taught me crucial lessons on self-discipline, resiliency, and service.

Responsibility for One’s Future

From a young age, my parents constantly reminded us that “[we] were ultimately responsible for our own happiness.” Initially, this seemed like the perfect justification for why couldn’t always simply get what we wanted, whether it was the hottest toy or dessert before we finished our vegetables. However, as I grew older, I realized that it was my parent’s way of encouraging our own self-discipline and how the ultimate responsibility for our success in life was our own. Parents, teachers, and friends might all provide guidance along the way, but without personal perseverance and determination to succeed, we would never achieve our goals. This understanding of self-motivation became especially apparent as I started my freshman year at Creighton University. For the first time in my life, my success was entirely dependent on me. I was responsible for physically getting out of bed, attending classes, and completing my assignments. I no longer had my parents or anyone else to fall back on. Following a transition period in my first semester, I found myself returning to this phase as I worked to balance the academic demands of triple majoring, independent research, and my life as an ROTC cadet. In the end, this mindset proved to be a guiding principle throughout my undergraduate career and I successfully graduated with high honors and a plan.

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‘…home is where the heart is”

There is an anonymous poem that compares military children to dandelions, claiming that like the flower, children in military families are extremely resilient and can “put down roots almost anywhere.” From the inconsistency of moving, deployments, and various short-term assignments, it can be difficult to ever establish a true “home.” Growing up, I never had the best answer to the standard “Where are you from.” For me, my home was constantly evolving and changing, and it was hard to identify with a single place. Yet despite these challenges, I learned that moving brings opportunities for new experiences and adventures. As I prepared to spend a summer abroad in college, this flexibility once again came to the forefront of my mind. I not only faced the challenges of my new environment but walked away embracing the new experiences ahead of me.

Mission First, People Always

“Service before self” is one of the core values of the Air Force and sacrifice is a shared ideal across every branch of the military. My trainers and superiors drilled these words into my mind during my time in the Air Force. Yet, my experience with service started long before I joined the military. My dad regularly stressed the importance of service and community and provided examples of how we could serve others. Whether by being the last person to leave the office, and often not coming home until after I’d gone to bed, or volunteering in the local community, my dad was the perfect example of service and stewardship. My own desire to serve others led me to pursue a career in public service. Working in public service is not just a career; it is a calling. In the public sector. I may not always have the same career opportunities or rewards compared to my private counterparts, however, when I look to my future, I see the opportunity and privilege to serve.

Growing up as part of a military family is more than just a familiarity with moving or military culture. My experiences as a military brat instilled a strong sense of resiliency, self-discipline, and service from a young age. Each and everyone one of these lessons plays an instrumental role as I pursue a career in the federal government. Life is full constantly evolving and the flexibility to face unexpected challenges is invaluable. In the professional world, one needs to maintain a strong sense of self-discipline and determination to be successful. Self-motivation and success go hand in hand. Most importantly, careers in the public sector require a foundation in sacrifice and community and are dependent on a dedicated focus on service before self

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What Does It Mean to Truly Grow Up: Opinion Essay. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“What Does It Mean to Truly Grow Up: Opinion Essay.” Edubirdie, 01 Mar. 2023,
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