Since my people as palimpsests post and some of the comments I got about it, I’ve been thinking a lot about the former version of myself that was an army officer. Plus, Remembrance Day typically gets me thinking about my time in the military and how grateful I am that I didn’t have to serve when we were a nation at war.
This morning I felt inspired to dig up some photos of me taken back then – I don’t have many because it was mostly a time pre digital cameras and generally I was too busy to think about taking pictures. Overall, my army experience was positive and I’m amazed I did what I did, but looking back at the person I was feels weird. All of that is still part of me and I have no regrets about any of it, but that’s not me any more.
Looking at the pictures of a younger me reminds me how disjointed and misunderstood I felt (perhaps a general malady of people in their 20s). At the time, I cared a lot about what others thought of me and the picture others painted of me was often wildly polar. Even though I was among the first Canadian women in combat arms, my experience was less about sexism and more about my introverted nature. My superiors (with some exceptions) regularly told me how my personality needed to change to be successful – I wasn’t ‘gung ho’ enough even though I volunteered for every ‘gung ho’ opportunity I could, but was never selected. At the same time my subordinates would tell me how refreshing it was to work for someone who truly cared about them.
Looking back, the biggest difference between the army version of me and me now is that I care less what people think of me. There’s a handful of people close to me who’s opinion of me matters, but for everyone else they are free to like or dislike me as they choose and I don’t care. I’m also content with my life now in a way that I wasn’t back then. I’m doing the work I always wanted to do and I’m with people I want to be with, plus now I get to putter around in my own plot of land and no one can force me to move across the country at a moments notice.