Yes, I am dating a military man. No, I am not engaged.

Over the span of time dating my boyfriend, I have had many comments about my relationship.

Last semester someone asked me if I am using him for his benefits. As if my relational status is a strategic plan for insurance.

Another told me to make sure I just stick with marriage for a certain amount of time to get his retirement.

Some other people have made comments to me about moving to him after graduation. Then with my response of, “it depends where I get into school,” I get discontent looks from the fact that I am going to pass on that sacrifice for graduate work.

Others ask when I am going to be engaged, and some are shocked I am yet to be engaged to my boyfriend.

Let me explain. I am not here to defend my relationship or myself…but instead to give some people out there  another perspective on relationships (that may go against a lot of what the romantic novels and movies tell us is appropriate).

Let me begin with the fact that I have had to really understand that no matter what I choose for the next step in my relationship, and the timing of that next step, is going to come with others opinions (both negative and positive).

Also, I guess all of this can be prefaced as well with how there was once upon a time where I thought I would be a 20-year-old college drop-out married to a controlling and traditionalist man who had commitment issues. I was willing to sacrifice my education, my current living location, and friendships for someone else during a time where I needed to focus more on myself.

I let a man change my perspective of what I thought I wanted to something else entirely. I was willing to give up all the important things, and such as the experiences and opportunities that has come with my time at college.

The end of this relationship left me having a panic attack in my parent’s downstairs hallway two days before I was about to study abroad in Barcelona. I almost didn’t go.

I promised myself then I would never again let a relationship influence such sacrifices without thought.

The thing is, I know what I want to do (or at least I think). We spend so much of our lives at work, therefore I do not want my career choice to be something I despise or just deal with…I want it to be something I believe in, and something I am passionate about.

While this career plan may change (because statistics show we have multiple careers in a lifetime), furthering my education will always be important to me.

So while relationships end. Whether they be friendships or romantic ones… my education, along with the experiences and opportunities that form important skills and abilities, can never be taken away from me. For me, my education means stability and independence. I will not give that up for anyone.

Transitioning back…

One thing I dislike is that individuals married to military servicemen and women are called dependents. As a spouse and through my own experience as a child, families receive benefits such as medical insurance, dental, and on-base access for other amenities. While families make sacrifices such as time apart and single-parenthood for extended periods of time, this term has become a negative stereotype, especially for women, who marry into the military life.

Well, I am not that woman.

I grew up (THANK GOD), with a mom who set an example for me. My mom was the breadwinner. My mom was the Military Officer in a time where it didn’t seem like an issue to have “wife support groups” for spouses but not “husband support” groups. My mom worked for promotions despite her being accused of sleeping her way to the top (which obviously isn’t true or possible, but o.k.)

Which is typical right? Still I hear people surprised by (and sometimes upset by) how I voice my opinions. Which a lot of times people choose to designate to my judgmental character (but we can get into gender appropriate social behaviors in another post).

My mom chose to place herself in a strategic professional position before she had children (which is a key component, but sometimes impossible obtainment for women in order to make specific levels in organizations). Her doctor couldn’t help but voice his shock that she was having her first child at 30-31.

My mom has shown me that going against the traditional gender role expectations is possible. While I have no grudges against the traditional caretaker role for women, I just see it as a shared role between both people in the relationship.

While I see more women going into the workforce, I see more men being increasingly involved in family caretaker roles.

This is what I want to exemplify for my children (if one day I perhaps have a couple). Hopefully that will all be in 10 years (God forbid me wanting to have children after 30 though!)

So, no I am not going to stay with my boyfriend for his insurance or for his retirement, nor are all military significant others like that.

And yes, I will be continuing my education whether or not that will place me in the same state as my boyfriend. And most importantly, I should NOT feel guilty for this decision, especially for trying to set myself up well, and my significant other for a future I see worth the investment.

I know this is crazy to some…especially because some of you know Bryce. Yes, he is awesome and intentional and sweet. One, because he supports this dream of mine. Honestly, he is in the top five of my supporters (after my parents, because they have known me since day one, and maybe tied to some of my professors).

And finally, no I am not engaged. Nor is there a ring. And honestly, there is a good possibility I will not change my name.

WAIT WHAT!

All of these statements go along with the fact that:

My name is Nikole Lynn Gregg.

I am my own person.

My happiness is not solely in my relationship.

NOR is my identity (nor should anyone’s be) in their relationship status.

I REPEAT:

No one’s identity should be in their relationship status.

Side note: I have no problem with others who make this decision, but this is my personal perspective of what it would mean if I were to make the decision of changing my name.

Therefore,

I am not consumed with the idea of engagement,

nor am I guessing on when it will be.

Marriage is not the end game. Life should not start at the I Do.

It has already started, and I want to be present in every moment. When, and if one day, this would happen to me, I want to be prepared with an education and identity that is my own.

I hear people talking all the time about how they need a boyfriend or they are on edge about when they will get engaged… we rush from stage to stage in life without being present or appreciating the one we are in.

This is what I am doing, and it has really worked out for Bryce and myself. I also know I will be okay without him. I know I am strong, independent. I know I have family and friends, and a balance in life that will make it so I am okay. Granted it would suck, but I would end up okay.

I think that is key in emotional stability and balance in one’s life, but hey what do I know. I am only 22.

So yes, I am dating a military man. No, I am not engaged.

I know that it is widely known that military couples marry fast and at times I feel immense social pressure about this, but at the same time I know I know who I am and what I need to be happy. No longer do I choose to overlook that or put it aside for someone else. From past experience, I have learned that it bites you in the ass.

So while I have no problems with people who do marry fast (heck, my parents married within 6 months of dating at relatively young ages), I think its important to know what you want and to stick to your guns despite the social pressures or expectations (whether this be for finding your “soul mate”…which doesn’t exist by the way…or whether or not to continue with school or in a specific job/work role).

 

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Twenty-One to Twenty-Two.

Since it is halfway through January, I thought it best to finally get around to putting together a consensus to 2015, and my hopes/goals for 2016. One of my goals for this coming year is to be more reflective, but also to make more time to reflect..so here we are my friends.

In 2015,

In my last semester, I lost a few dear friends or rather, people I considered to be close friends. Coincidentally forcing me to find a stronger positive self-concept despite inappropriate and inaccurate perceptions (life huh?).

I got mono this summer, making me sick and continuously exhausted for about 4 months of 2015.

This fall, my dad ended up having major complications from a spinal surgery, making it questionable if he were able to ever walk again.

Among many other things I will not mention here, because honestly while there was some bad (and a lot of bad in one short period of time), 2015 came with a lot of good.

I turned 21…with a year full of continuous celebration.

I became a teaching assistant for a statistics course, along with being a research assistant for multiple labs I love.

I redirected my career goals from counseling because I fell in love with statistics and educational assessment.

I applied to graduate school.

I received a few awards and grants.

I started Crossfit, which gave me a great workout regiment, but also a fantastic community of people.

I positively redefined my body image.

I traveled. A lot. I visited Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Washington D.C., and even spent three months out of my comfort zone in Oklahoma City working and meeting new people.

I interned at a shelter for battered women and children. I was able to sit  in on group therapy sessions, contribute to the awareness of abuse in the community, and support women through transitioning toward their personal independence.

I hiked. A lot. All over the Shenandoah Valley.

I supported my boyfriend through his first deployment.

I was able to spend holidays with my family in Virginia and my boyfriend’s family in Tennessee.

I was in two weddings!

I watched two of my dear friends graduate undergrad.

My dad was actually able to start walking again.

So while at the end of 2105, I was a little disappointed in how my year ended up…I can’t deny that there was equal, even more, good.

I have hopes for 2016, and some goals.

So far in 2016 I have turned 22, dyed my hair, and started my last semester in undergrad.

Some of my hopes include:

Getting into graduate school.

Attending my first research conference.

Road tripping to California…where I hope to hike in the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.

Some of my goals for this year include:

Making new maxes in my Olympic lifts and squats.

GRADUATE!

Becoming more present in day to day. Time does fly, and it is our job to take moments to step back and reflect, engage, and invest.

Continuously support my S.O. through his second deployment.

I also plan on being more invested in healthy eating and cooking, while drinking less.

Of course, I may come with some other intentions for this year…but here it is at this moment.

Let 2016 be great friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A new perspective from Crossfit.

I started crossfit almost a year ago.

Since then I’ve added 75 pounds to my deadlift max, 30 pounds to my squat, 40 pounds to my bench, gained my ability to do more than one pull-up at a time, and learned many different complex movements such as the clean and jerk, squat snatch, and handstand push-up.

Through crossfit:

I have become stronger, physically and mentally.

I’ve pushed my limits and learned how to fail. I have also learn to keep pushing through failure.

I’ve learned the importance of hard work, but also the importance of rest.

I’ve also learned the importance of community, and the impact it has on improvement, achievement, and goal-setting.

BUT

Most importantly for me in this moment is that I have learned how to respect and enjoy my body and its ability.

For the first time, I am making goals for the upcoming year to train for new maxes and new fitness goals instead of the usual goal of losing 10 pounds or getting flat abs.

So, for this year I’m hoping to get a 160 clean and jerk, 120 squat snatch, 225 deadlift, and a 200 squat. I want to get 5 pull-ups in a row and row a 2k in 8 minutes.

I have goals about making more meals at home and drinking alcohol less.

In time, I believe my body will reflect these changes.

No longer am I as consumed with the negative thoughts about my body. My body image has shifted into being strong, capable, and balanced.

No longer am I consistently worried about the excess fat on my stomach. Nor am I obsessed with the scale or my exact body fat percentage.

I never really thought of it until I got mono this past summer, but my perspective of myself has shifted from self-hate of how my body looks to self determination of improving my health.

 

To think 5 years ago I was starving myself, losing about 20 pounds in a little over a month because I had such high anxiety about my body after I quit a sport that required intense conditioning 4-5 days a week.

And to think just 2 years ago I was consistently struggling with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) because the lack of control I felt in my life and my dissatisfaction with my body.

I could not find balance.

I was starving myself 5 days of the week, restricting, and binging 1-2 of the other days.

It was a constant cycle that exhausted me to the point where I would struggle to get up in the morning.

Since then I have found balance, and a positive perspective toward my body. No longer is my body an enemy, or something to hate. Instead it is something to appreciate. Food is now the fuel to be able to do the things I love to do.

Crossfit has given me new perspectives for myself and how to contribute to a community that believes in mental and physical strength, as well as continuous support.

For that, I am thankful.

Cheers to the new year, and all the challenges, successes, and changes that come with it.

P.S. A new picture of me crossfitting coming soon.

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“What is rest? A question from the girl with mono.” A guest lesson by Nikki Gregg.

A Year of Lessons.

I am one to work hard all the time, without stopping. A lot of us do. During the semester, my days were no shorter than thirteen hours. This summer my hours are just as long.

I work hard. I work hard all the time. I push myself to the limit and then crash when the semester ends or the midterms are over, but something happened this week that threw me a curveball. I was diagnosed with mono yesterday, which is forcing me to take time to slow down and truly rest.

I found out my sore throat, aching body, extreme exhaustion, and little appetite for the last week was more than the common cold, but a serious virus that will take me weeks or months to get over. While I was working at my internship and serving tables at a restaurant in the city, it wasn’t until a week after…

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Why “I Don’t See Color” is not helping us.

For all of you who do not know what I am doing in the Oklahoma City area this summer, I am interning at the YWCA of Oklahoma City. The YWCA’s mission is to empower women and eliminate racism.

One of the main components of the YWCA’s work is their shelter for the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. During my time here for the next three months I will be aiding in creating an environment to promote positive wellbeing for the children and mothers at this shelter.

This past week I have undergone training about legalities, procedures, and systems within the YWCA and how they all collaborate together toward their mission of women empowerment and eliminating racism.

One of the sessions was about diversity, how the YWCA attempts to reach out to the extremely diverse community of the OKC area. We talked about how diversity is seen by others, and what is the most appropriate way to acknowledge and honor all the differences of those all around us.

The phrase, “I don’t see color” came up.

I strongly disagree with this statement, and believe it progresses any movement toward unity and a collaboration of diverse cultures, races, and ethnicities.

1. Unless you are color blind, you see color.

2. Even if you are color blind, pigments and shades and other features of someone’s appearance clues you into the differences in race and/or ethnicity.

3. The statement takes away the appreciation of our differences as if our differences that create the diversity is negative.

The last point is the most important one. So many of us, in general, think different is weird or bad. Different is what makes everyone of us interesting in our own ways.

Do I think someone who says, “I don’t see color” is trying to be negative? No. They most likely have good intentions.

Take note for a second to realize that I am not condoning the act of treating people out of their rights, taking away respect for someone, or mistreating them because of their race, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, etc.

I AM saying that those difference in race, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation bring together a diverse, interesting, exciting, and educational atmosphere that more of us need.

Differences should be appreciated to progress. Each of us should see it as an opportunity to learn from eachother. Ignoring the differences or even feeling negative toward differences will lead us further into the racial turmoil in our nation.

Let us educate eachother. Let us appreciate the differences we all bring to the table.

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A year in a nutshell

This year I have had losses,
and I have had a lot of failure.

Job rejections,
disappointing grades,
heartache.

This year I have had wins,

From studying abroad,
and traveling to new states,
to learning hard lessons,

to knowing myself a little bit more,
and to falling in love,

things have come out of the blue,
some hit hard,
and others came with blessings.

I have had downs,

bad days
and good

I have had ups,

new friends,
and old

reconciliations,
and driftings,

I have felt lost,
and then gained my ground

I have taken hits,
and still remained true.

I have sailed,
I have flown,
I have laughed,
I have loved,
I have lived.

Cheers to it all.

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A college girl and success

Here is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s perspective on success:
“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”

Success looks different to each of us. Some differences are slight, others are grand. I was asked to define success and significance this past week, here is my perspective:

success (n): the sense of achievement that sustains an overall feeling of well-being and happiness (improving one’s self)

Significance (n): the influence and contribution of beneficial work that impacts others either in the local community, nationally, or internationally (or more simply put, making a difference beyond ourselves)

So while these are my perspectives on success and significance, they may not be the same for many others.

Whether your success is similar or very different from mine, our perspectives are equally important in obtaining and maintaining full-fulfillment in the life we have.

What success looks like to each one of us should influence where we choose to place our commitments, whether it be the place we choose to live, the job we take, or who we love…all should influence us to the success we see, and the significance we want to have.

So…what does success look like to you? How do you see your life being significant?

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