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Finding her groove

Like many, I joined the Army for the challenge and opportunities. I entered as an Other Rank, coming out of Kapooka core enlisted to Military Police (MP). I served firstly as a field force driver to gain experience, before potentially obtaining automatic rank associated with becoming an MP. I loved the open road and learning about my vehicle, fixing her. When called for MP training, I passed it up to pursue the call for Avionics Technicians. Once again, I loved fixing and maintaining the aircraft – only letting the smoke out once! I was accepted into Officer training at Duntroon, emerging as a Signals Officer.  

After 10 years of service across four different corps, experiencing two major traumas and giving it my all, I was at my limit. Despite unanimous support from my chain of command, I was tired of having to justify my existence to multiple Medical Boards. Not feeling valued by the ‘system’, I refused to lose value in myself. Life was telling me it was time to move on. I was not ready for change, but change was ready for me.  

For me, transitioning to civilian life was not easy. It was a process that needed time. Firstly, to come to terms with my physical and emotional wounds, then to relight the fire of passion under Naomi Version 2.0.  

Fitting into the laid-back style that was civilian life was a challenge, and I soon realised that I had to temper my ‘blunt hammer’ approach to gain traction. Even the language was somewhat foreign to me. Faced with endless possibilities, the question of ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ was daunting. (For the record, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and that’s okay.) I was a duck on rough waters: on the surface all appeared smooth sailing, yet under the water I was paddling like crazy and feeling like I may explode into a puff of feathers at any moment. 

Although there are many kilometres between us, my extended family are my strength. Loving me unconditionally, they pulled me from beyond the depths of despair. I am able to write this today because of them. I vow to never sink so low again without reaching out for help. I have also been blessed with a small number of friends I consider ‘my diamonds’ who have believed in me when I lost sight of myself and have empowered me to strive for a better version of me. My life has also been touched by many wonderful people; be it for a reason or a season, I am grateful. It is okay not to be okay! I am learning to ‘Look for the Helpers’. 

After navigating another sinkhole in the road that is my life’s journey, the view from the other side is, yet again, quite different from what I have known. Cue Naomi Version 3.0. The current economic downturn and cost of living increase was biting fiercely. Faced with seeking employment outside of my direct skillset, I gathered my courage to bare all and attempt job applications. Despite transferable skills aplenty and punching below my weight, frustratingly my job application attempts were not getting me to the next round. I was taking hits that were undermining my self-worth. What was I not seeing?  

Although I was able to find vacant job positions that suited my unique need, my applications were letting me down. I could not effectively articulate all I have to offer. No surprise, really. Whatever the task, I am someone who just gets in and gets the job done. My personal reflection and reviews were critically focused on improvement not my achievements. Looking for the ‘helpers’, I reached out to Soldier On.   

Receiving my distress flare, Soldier On sprang into action. Their response was timely. They were able to redirect effort to my area of most need, hitting the target. My needs were not glamourous nor complex but critical to me. They showed up for me. What I admired most from Soldier On’s support was that rather than solve the problem for me, they worked collaboratively with me to achieve the goal, showing me my strengths and respectfully suggesting improvements. They gave me confidence in my skillset and the courage to keep trying. I was empowered once again.  

Having previously been the one relied upon by others in need, asking for help was not easy, but it got results. Thanks to Soldier On, I have secured a job and found my groove. My immediate family are able to rest easier knowing there will be food on the table and a roof over our head. I am valued and making a positive contribution to the wellbeing of what I believe is an important area within our community.  

Here are my takeaways. Connection with others is difficult but necessary. It is okay to not be okay. Always remember, you are not alone. Look for the helpers – they are there. Don’t skip your ‘self-care’, whatever that looks like for you. Take the time to reflect on the positives and pat yourself on the back for little achievements. You might not be perfect, but you do have great value. Find your groove.  

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Further reading

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