Coping with Reality

I bet when most of you read the title of this post, you thought to yourself, “She must be writing about dealing with Max’s deployment.” Sorry to disappoint Hodgepodgers, but that’s not what this post is about at all 🙂 I know, I feel so sneaky!

A million years ago (ok, only three and a half), when the Air Force commissioned Max and I as officers, we set off on two very separate paths: Max pursued being a pilot and I set off to be an Acquisitions officer. I didn’t really know what acquisitions was when I set out, so I was cautiously optimistic. I remember saying a silent prayer when fate assigned me this career field. Please Lord, let me enjoy it, I said. Three and a half years later and let me just say that it’s not what I envisioned myself doing in the Air Force. Not by a long shot.

I’d like to think of myself as a goal driven person; I like seeing results. When I don’t see progress being made – tangible progress – I feel as if my ceaseless efforts have been in vain. For those of you that don’t know, acquisitions is a long tedious process with major milestones that are few and far between.

My first job I worked under a brilliant program manager who was able to impart boat loads of wisdom – how to schedule, how to budget, how to manage a complex program. The only problem was the timeline of events. In the two years I worked there, we didn’t deliver a single physical item because the lead time for the effort was no kidding two years. It was all paperwork, paperwork, paperwork and just as I was leaving all the “fun” was slated to occur.

My second program was more hands on, but because my move to Georgia loomed on the horizon, I didn’t get the opportunity to really jump in and flex my program manager muscles. Again, I moved before I had the opportunity to see any real results delivered to the warfighter.

My third job, here in Georgia, has been an entire new experience. In no way has my three years on the other two programs prepared me. You see, here at Robins AFB, we’re not program managers, we’re logistics managers. Logistics, not acquisitions. Oye. On top of that, I’m managing software. 😦

I’m going to tell you the truth. I took a computer science class in college and it was not one of my best grades. It just didn’t gel with me. Countless hours were devoted to wrapping my head about the concepts, but nothing worked. Software is the same way – it may as well be Latin or Greek because it doesn’t make much any sense to me.

Last week I found out that I’m moving to a new program. It’s more complex, but at least it’s not software. It’s an actual physical item that fighter pilots use here in America as well as several other countries.

Here’s what I’ve learned in three and a half, almost four years.

The path you set out on from college may not be the exact direction you envisioned yourself traveling. But like the popular saying goes, “It’s not the destination, but the journey.” If you had told me I would be managing software contracts and work years on a program that didn’t deliver anything, I would have laughed in your face. Although each of those jobs has been rewarding in its own unique way, I’ve gleaned a whole heap of information on my Air Force journey. And now that I’m finally taking on another new and exciting program, I’m more than cautiously optimistic. I’m psyched.

Unlike my past programs, I’ll be delivering an actual product and it’ll make a difference in how our military operates! Someone will actually use the components that I manage and actually  be thankful that someone procured them!

So when I say coping with reality, I mean, stay optimistic. Eternally optimistic. Life will always throw you curve balls. Sometimes you can dodge them and sometimes they hit you square in the stomach. Optimism though, that’s what helps you stand back up again.

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