Self-Discovery & Life Transitions,
an interview with Claire W. and Jackie W.
As a military child, moving from place to place can be rough. Transitioning to a new community and starting at a new school can pose challenges. Through my moving experiences, I have always been impressed by my younger sister Jackie’s ability to quickly adapt to new areas, channel her emotions in activities that stimulate her mind regardless of her physical location, and remain such an encouraging, funny, and positive presence. Although she is younger than me, her humor and love of learning even in difficult times makes me admire her. Because last month was the Month of the Military Child, and adolescence is a significant time of self-discovery (and moving, forcing community transitions, only enhances the “who am I?” s and “where do I belong here?”s), I wanted to spotlight my sister, a young teen girl using her experiences to discover who she is and who she may become.
C: Moving has been a significant part of both of our lives. How would you say moving has affected who you have become as a person?
J: Moving has shaped who I am today. Through moving, I have learned to adapt quickly, and to always be open-minded. When I first moved to Pennsylvania, I noticed that everyone at school had already formed their own cliques and social groups, leaving no space for new people. Moving does take a toll on me mentally. Most of my classmates in Pennsylvania have friendships and relations that have lasted since preschool and kindergarten, relationships that I will never have. The friends that I have known to love in my younger years are practically gone to me. However, after experiencing many moves before, I have learned to always strive to make new friends, and meet new people. Realizing this allowed me to meet people that I am glad to call my best friends today.
C: What are some other things you believe make you, you?
J: As a competitive gymnast, I have always relied on gymnastics whenever I felt sad or lonely. I think it’s ultimately become a part of me. Gymnastics allows you to tune into your body because it’s a sport that requires both physical and mental strength. Doing it lets me just focus on one skill at a time, instead of worrying about outside things. Cello has also become a huge part of my life. I love the feeling of playing a song and ending with a dramatic bow flourish. Finally, I consider myself an amateur artist. I like drawing because it lets you clear your mind, even when times are stressful.
C: What do you think is important about self-discovery?
J: Self-discovery is important to be able to complete things to the best of your ability while letting go of stress. Stress can be detrimental. If you don’t cope with it, you can get stuck in an endless loop. When you know what you like, and when you know what activities help you cope with that stress, you can become the best person you can be. By understanding what makes you happy, you can also have a higher self-esteem and surround yourself with things that you love.
C: What advice would you give to other girls your age who are trying to find their place at school or discover what they are interested in?
J: Be yourself. I feel like the easiest way to find “your group” is by being true to yourself, because you can’t try to fit in with others by changing how you act. You can’t fake something because you will just end up hiding who you are from others and yourself. Try new things. If you don’t know what you like to do, take the time you need to experiment with different activities. Expose yourself to people with an array of different hobbies that can guide you in a direction you might love.