“You need to try and fit in with your surroundings.” That’s what I heard throughout my military child upbringing. Whether it was from military counselors or teachers, everyone insisted that when I moved somewhere new, there was only one way to go about it; Move. Slowly blend into your new environment. Survive a few years. Repeat."
"You need to try and fit in with your surroundings.” That’s what I heard throughout my military child upbringing. Whether it was from military counselors or teachers, everyone insisted that when I moved somewhere new, there was only one way to go about it; Move. Slowly blend into your new environment. Survive a few years. Repeat.
I took it to heart, just like so many military kids do. When military kids realize that they act or dress differently after moving somewhere new, they completely go into survival mode. They prioritize appeasing others in hopes of forming friendships that they desperately lack and avoid novel opportunities for temporary comfort.
As I look back on my childhood, I realize how much time I must have wasted trying to align myself with new social expectations and fit in, all for minimal gain. The truth is that fearfully traversing your childhood will lead to missed opportunities. And friendships where you do not feel like you can behave as your true self, will not last.
In August of 2020, I started my podcast, The Shanon Show. At first, it was simply a platform for me to joke around with my old friends and fellow military brats who were now high school graduates reminiscing on our time spent abroad. But as months went by and the episodes started piling up, more serious conversations started to sprout. My audience started to grow with current military teens who were looking for advice and entertainment rolled into one.
A common theme that I noticed amongst the military children I interviewed, was how common the “fit in” mindset was when it came to moving. Military kids everywhere misinterpret “adapting to their new surroundings” as being willing to change the merits of their character to gain acceptance from a new crowd. They become willing to put their goals and dreams on pause, for the sake of making surface-level friendships or staying within their comfort zones. And for the most part, they all regret it.
I realized that we needed to reassess what we preach to military teens. Teens should be on their way to crafting college-ready transcripts and resumes, making the most of their time in high school. They need to stand out, just like every other kid is competing to do. Doing otherwise will lower their potential.
In the fall of 2020, I decided to start writing about how military teens can still maximize their potential despite their setbacks. I wanted to create a guide for military teens that showed them how to pursue high school the right way. I wanted to provide an approach that would allow them to chase their dreams no matter where the military sent them. I wanted them to learn from the mistakes that past military teens like myself had made. It did not take long for me to realize that this issue was far too large for just a blog post or article – I was on my way to writing a book.
Two years, another move, and eighty-two podcast episodes later, I am so excited to publish my book, Dear Military Teen. It includes a complete guide to each year of high school, how to approach several types of moves, and the keys to handling deployments – all specifically tailored to military teens. I was also able to tie in stories from my upbringing, good and bad, to share with everyone.
If you have goals that exist in a greater scope than that of a single PCS, then you can tackle your obstacles with a view from above. In my book Dear Military Teen, I explain how to adopt this mindset one day at a time, allowing military teens to go from being desperate to fit in, too comfortable with standing out.