'I'm not just an Airman, I'm a spouse, and I can be both'

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Illinois -- Sometimes, all of my identities get hard to handle. No, I'm not a superhero with an alter-ego, but I do wear quite a few different hats. I am an active duty Airman, I am a mom, I am a daughter, I am a sister, and I also happen to be the spouse of an active duty servicemember.

Dedication and loyalty are important to me, and I throw myself completely into my service, my job, my husband, my kids and my family.

For a long time, I've felt like I don't really belong anywhere in the world. I, wrongly, felt I didn't belong with spouses because I am an active duty member. I also felt that I didn't belong at work because I have children. My world was lonely, not feeling like I clicked into any pre-formed group.

However, I never knew how I could fit in until I started talking with some spouses from my squadron's spouses group--what friends I was missing out on. Little did I know, these spouses are the most accepting people I have encountered in my short time in the Air Force.

While talking to one of the leaders of the group, I realized, they don't care what I do, I'm still a spouse and a part of the group. I suddenly felt like I did belong in this demographic, and I could get support in willing listeners and those understanding my struggles of being a military spouse.

They understand the long hours away from family, and my desire to spend all of the quality time possible with my family when I have it. We had the same passions: our families. They understand that sometimes it is hard to be a mom and leave your kids at daycare every morning to go to work. In the same way, they reassured me that the person caring for my children, also a military spouse, loves them like they are her own.

These amazing individuals don't even act like I'm any different, they just see me as another military spouse, and that is comforting in a way I did not know I needed. I have found support for the part of me that had been neglected for quite a while. I'm not just an Airman, I'm a spouse, and I can be both (along with all those other identities I have to juggle every day).

Now that I have loyalty and dedication in the form of fellow spouses, I've realized that I can fit in at work, too. The Airmen that I work with don't have to have spouses or children for me to fit in with them as an Airman, journalist or photographer. I can exist in two different realms without them being mutually exclusive.