where i’ve been…

i grew up in a miltary family, my sister and i are air force brats…

this experience influenced me in a lot of ways, including in my work with youth…

when you grow up like this, you are often on the go–from place to place every few years–and your normal is “change”…you meet people, become friends, have experiences together, then move on…(from 6th – 12th grade i was at five different schools–and before then, at other schools in other towns)…during this time, the one constant in your life is your immediate family (for me, this included dad, mom, and sister)…they are your rock, your home…because for you and other military brats…home is not and has not been a physical place or location…

living life in this way lent itself to some amazing experiences–seeing different parts of the country, seeing different parts of the world (we lived in japan for three years)–and in these places, we had the opportunity to meet all kinds of different and interesting people; we had ‘our minds blown’ (in really good ways) as youngsters–it was an adventure onto itself…on the flip side, there are challenging experiences too–like instability, repeatedly having to “start-over”, self-doubt, and being the outsider to the “new place”…

such an experience is summed up well by sociologist georg simmel (in his work on individuality and social forms)…“In the case of the stranger, the union of closeness and remoteness involved in every human relationship is patterned in a way that may be succinctly formulated as follows: the distance within this relation indicates that one who is close by is remote, but his ‘strangeness’ indicates that one who is remote is near” (Levine, 1971).

while the lifestyle of the military brat provides a heightened sense and feeling of being the stranger, of peripheral-living (so to speak)–i don’t think this is unique to the military brat…but a common, everyday experience for anyone who has been (or is) a teenager…living (day in and day out) with the questions…am i accepted? do they like me? do i belong?

it’s in this space where my past meets their present…that i am able to engage and relate to kids that i might not be able to, had i not had that kind of experience growing up…it is a sweet spot for me…

q: how does your past impact your present day life? how do your experiences inform what you do???

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