“Hurry Up and Wait” And Other Cliches to Embrace in Military Life

Embrace the chaos. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. The only constant …

Embrace the chaos. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. The only constant is change. 

These sayings aren’t just cliches—they’re pretty applicable to military life. 

Sometimes it feels good to be understood. Especially in the chaos of military life. In this life, you must learn to be adaptable and accept a bit of chaos. No, you can’t minimize the frustrations of it with short sayings, but military life wouldn’t be the same without a bit of chaos, change and accepting a positive outlook. Right?  

“It Is What You Make of It” 

There might be a few instances when you find yourself in an undesirable situation. 

Not being able to choose where you live is one of the harder parts of military life. Ending up somewhere that might not be your first choice isn’t great. When you arrive somewhere new, you have two choices: you can spend the whole time letting your feelings and attitude impact yourself and those around you or you can make the most of it. 

“It is what you make of it” is more than just a cliche. it’s the absolute truth, especially in military life. We can’t choose our circumstances, but we get to choose how we react and adapt. We can choose negativity, and sometimes negativity feels like the easier choice. 

You get to choose your experience. You decide what your attitude and outlook are going to be in less-than-ideal situations. Don’t forget, those things don’t just affect you, they impact those around you, too.   

“Hurry Up and Wait”

Sometimes in military life, you’ll rush to meet a deadline, only to be told to pump the brakes shortly after. It’s a frustrating phenomenon. 

Unfortunately, the military has many moving parts. Orders don’t always just go through one person. We may do our part, but twelve other people have to do theirs, too. It can feel frustrating to perform a task, only to wait for what to do next. 

But understanding this aspect of military life is both necessary and important. 

“It’s a small world.”

One of the greatest things about military life is meeting people in so many places. We get the privilege of opening up our homes and our hearts in each new place we go. We meet new people everywhere we go, and with more people come fresh stories and experiences.

The military world is quite small. There’s a good chance you’ll cross paths with someone more than once. Saying goodbye is difficult, but crossing paths more than once with an old friend makes this world actually feel a bit smaller. 

Our connection, our experiences and our stories help us feel like this world and lifestyle really aren’t that big after all. 

“It could be worse.” 

Toxic positivity is not the answer, but sometimes it’s important to have perspective. In this lifestyle, you may get dealt cards you don’t want. You may get orders to a place that wasn’t your top choice or handed situations that are not what you wanted. And yes, this cliche may be infuriating to hear in the middle of a conflict but there are always ways the situation could be worse. 

Here are a few ways to keep a not-so-great situation in perspective: 

  • Think about the big picture
  • Think about things to look forward to
  • Think about where you’ve been or the opportunities you have now, compared to before
  • Think about how this specific (not great) situation can benefit you in the future

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” 

There are so many things to worry about in military life. Where will we be next? What about this event? What will I do when…?

It’s easy to get spun out worrying about what comes next or things that could happen down the road. The truth is, a lot of our worries are out of our hands. Worrying about something that may or may not happen can drive us crazy! Focus on the present. Focus on what you can control and on the circumstances in front of you. Not the ones that may or may not actually happen in two, five or ten years. 

Cross those bridges when you come to them. 

“The only constant is change.” 

Military life is not exactly predictable or consistent. It’s certainly not without unexpected changes. Sure, some people move like clockwork every three or four years. But they rarely know where to or how or when. Nothing is set in stone, except for the concept of change. 

In the beginning, change can be nerve-wracking. Further into military life, change will still be stressful. Those feelings don’t go away, but you get used to them. 

If there’s one thing to be sure of in or around the military, it’s that things can always change. 

“Embrace the chaos.” 

Finally, one of the most important cliches to embrace when in the military or connected to someone who is: embrace the chaos.

Is chaos stressful? Yes. Is change scary? Yep. But do these things bring about some of the richest and most meaningful life lessons and experiences? Absolutely.

As an active duty member or someone who supports one, your life may feel chaotic. When you realize how much it can stretch and teach you, that’s when true growth happens. So at least try to embrace the chaos. 

After all, it’s that chaos that can take you to some pretty amazing places and not just where you’re stationed. The unpredictability can stretch and grow you in ways you never imagined.

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Kailyn Rhinehart