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I have what I feel amounts to a small amount of photos from my service. As such, I enjoy seeing the Veteran Vision Project for restructuring the conversation about what it means to be a veteran. In these photos, we get a small glimpse of the dual identities veterans navigate.
I found one of the issues I struggled with in my own life was who do I want to be after having the honor of wearing Marine Corps uniforms for four years. When I started working for Kay Jewelers in 2007 after leaving the Corps, I adopted a new “uniform” of New York and Co. button down shirts, slacks, the occasional skirt, pantyhose, and kitten heels. My employment there ended in 2009 with our move to Wyoming and I quickly reverted back to my comfort zone of hoodies, shirts, jeans and sneakers. It’s an easy enough wardrobe to maintain and not look out-of-place back there.
I always found it a bit funny to see people primp themselves to take a trip to Walmart; however, it started to make sense when I realized you’ll run into just about anyone there. And I do prefer someone caring for their appearance (even a little too much) as opposed to someone walking down the aisles dressed in pajamas. Seriously, it’s not that hard to at least throw on a clean shirt and jeans.
I feel most comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans, but I also want to feel comfortable dressing my body as I age. My civilian work doesn’t require I be physically fit and as such, I’ve put on weight by adopting excuses for not maintaining fitness standards. Not much weight, mind you. My most comfortable weight as a Marine was 108 pounds and now I hover between 113 and 115 pounds. It’s not a drastic difference, but I’m certainly softer than I’d like to be. I am steadily forcing myself to fit exercise back into my schedule to drop my weight back to 108.
As I further own and find comfort in my civilian identity, I understand I owe myself grace on accepting the “new” me. I take on different responsibilities now and have different demands made of my time. This fact rings true especially as an employed person who is also a mother, wife, and graduate student.
However, I do want to share with you all photos that show the other side of me. I’ve been blessed to grow up in a time where print and digital photography collide. I had (and have) other people take my photo and from time to time, I also enjoy taking the occasional selfie. I am neither too shy to be photographed but not too vain to solely rely on selfies as a form of expression. I have a beautiful record of my existence as an American, my veteran status unknown to others in the my proximity when the photos were taken. While I cling more to my status as a veteran, my civilian side deserves recognition, too.
The two sides of me make up my whole person.