Yeah, yeah, I know I said I wasn’t going to be online much as I’m in a self enforced deadline and MUST work if I ever hope to make writing, oh, I don’t know, a career.
But as I was driving to work today, something about my conversation with my old brigade commander a couple of weeks ago struck me. Actually, it hit me in the head. But first, a tangent.
I’m a soldier. That doesn’t mean that being a soldier and being a girlie girl are mutually exclusive, it just means that for me, I’m more comfortable in combat boots than high heels. Yesterday, I registered for the RWA National conference in Orlando. Now, for those that are part of the fantastic Austin RWA group, I usually show up in uniform because I leave straight from work to get down to Austin in a reasonable amount of time (I’ve been terrible about going this year and I’m trying to get better). But I always sit with my back to the door and I’m almost always terrible uncomfortable.
See, I’m surrounded by women. Great women. Awesome women who adopted me while I was deployed last year and sent me packages every single month. They didn’t forget about me when I fell of the planet for a while when I was dealing with some personal issues. They are fantastic.
And yet, I’m awkward and unsure of myself every time I step into the room. I worry that I’ll swear too much or be too impatient or say something that might be perfectly reasonable to me but strike a civilian as completely horrible. And I desperately don’t want to offend any of them because they are an awesome group of ladies.
But to be honest, my entire adult life has been spent surrounded by men. There are a few women scattered throughout the formation but by and large, I’m one of the few girls. So even though I wear makeup in uniform, I don’t wear much. I don’t want guys to look at me and see a girl, I want them to see a soldier. And even though the first thing they DO see is a girl, they don’t see a girlie girl and when I open my mouth, it’s obvious that I am a soldier first.
As I get ready to go to RWA, I realize that I am going to have to be on guard. I’m going to have to polish the turd, so to speak. To learn to have entire conversations without swearing, even when I’m relaxed.
Do you have any freaking idea how hard that is going to be? Oh and it says on the website business casual. Um, I own jeans. And t-shirts. And flip flops because when I’m chasing my kids around the zoo, heels aren’t exactly what I would call functional (I am, however, in awe of women who do decide to go to the zoo in high heels but I wonder if they’ve taken pain medication before hand?).
That being said, every time I go to ARWA, I’m glad I went because I learn a little more about how to relax and how to be a little more of a girl. I won’t be a soldier forever. At some point I’m going to have to get reacquainted with my feminine side.
And apparently, that was supposed to start the moment I commissioned. When my former brigade commander gave me some of his valuable time for mentorship, he pointed out that I still have some of my NCO tendencies. He asked me how many times he’d sworn during our conversation and I couldn’t honestly think of any. Then he asked how many I had. And I flushed but he said it was fine because we had a relationship. I wouldn’t talk like that if I was talking to the division commander and he was right.
So as I move further into my transition as an officer AND as a writer, I realize that I have to find ways to be a little less crass, a little more polished. I have to swear a lot less and find a ton more patience.
In essence, I have to start polishing the turd.