Why I hate it when you tell me “I could never do that.”

I have wanted to put these words on paper for years now. But I am not Louisa May Alcott. I am not eloquent or poetic. And I use phrases like “totes” and “I can’t even”. I’d rather appeal to my readers’ humor than their “feels”. But this has weighed on my heart heavy, especially during these last 7 months of deployment. (And counting ….. btw … )

I am a military spouse. Anybody in that boat, and even some sailing along in other boats, have been the recipient of this phrase, “I could never do that.”

I. Hate. That. Phrase.

And let me tell you why I hate it.

Having been in the military along side my hubby for 9 years now, I am no stranger to the challenges of military life. Plans that fall through, special occasions missed, inability to attend family gatherings, deployments that literally never (curse word) end! I get it. It sucks. And it’s hard. And lonely. And there are tears. And more curse words. And it may not seem appealing to you.

But when you tell me you could never do it, it invalidates the strength I have built up and the courage I have forced myself to find to endure it.

I have a friend who I look up to tremendously. I want to be her when I grow up. She chooses to home school her children and she does it beautifully. And one time I almost told her, “I could never do it”. But I stopped myself, because of my aforementioned disdain for this phrase. And I made myself consider what I truly meant when I feel these feels. What I mean is – homeschooling takes a truly dedicated and selfless mom. One who is much more selfless than myself. One who cares more about her children’s psychological development and educational needs than the organization and pinterest-worthy-appearance of her home. What I really meant by it was, I could do that, but I choose not to. Because it seems freaking hard to me! And the extent to which she carries out her meaningful and beautiful lessons and routines, seems almost unattainable to me. Emphasis on “almost”. I could do it. But not without extreme effort on my part. It seems …. herculean.

But instead of depriving her of such a valiant effort, I wanted her to feel celebrated! Victorious, even, for choosing such a selfless road for her and her children. I wanted her to know that I look up to her! And that her decision is not “less-than” just because it is one I havent personally chosen.

Although funny we should mention it now that I am being forced to do it ?

And that is how I feel about my service as a military wife. I don’t want my struggles, undertakings, and achievements to be stripped away.

I was not born with a superhuman ability to handle the unimaginable. I didn’t attend a university that graced me with a degree for “handling” these things. I didn’t undergo elective surgery that implanted stability into my soul for these scenarios. I’m just a normal girl, who fell in love with a (sexy) selfless fighter pilot. And is devoted to him.

I do the hard things. I strengthen myself. I do the self-work, I take on the burdens, I say the prayers, I complain, I drop it when it’s heavy, and I pick it back up. And that’s what I want you to see. That I am just like you. And that thing that you think is so hard that you could “never do it”. I’m doing it. And I want you to validate it. I don’t want to be lumped into a category of women who have a “God-given ability to handle this”. I want to be seen as an individual who rises to the challenge. Who doesn’t want to have to do these things at times, but does them because it’s for the greater good. Someone who does it all in service to her country. Someone who is strong when she doesn’t want to be.

So next time you see someone in a different boat, floating in a stream that’s different from yours. Don’t tell them you could never float in that boat. Instead, tell them you’re proud of them for taking it on. For doing something hard. Thank them for inspiring you. For being courageous.

Validate them for doing the dang thing.

3 Replies to “Why I hate it when you tell me “I could never do that.””

  1. Thank for inspiring me and giving me the courage I needed to do hard things.

  2. This ?, is so good Jamie! You nailed it, tugged at my heart because I’ve lived it too! ❤️

  3. As a fellow military spouse (Army- Nat’l Guard over here!), I’ve heard the “I could never do that” plenty of times. However, what I heard in that phrase, was the person speaking it telling me that they saw something- a strength or quality- in me or what I was accomplishing, that they didn’t recognize or acknowledge in themselves. They were short changing themselves by saying they could never do it. I believe they could, and I would tell them that. “You could, if you had to.”

    I didn’t choose either of our deployments, I rolled with the punches of military life.

    As my dear friend and fellow military spouse said- It’s definitely not some God-given ability, it’s not a special characteristic that we are given at birth. We have had to learn the world that way and fight through the struggles and adapt, and we agree- we DEFINITELY need more validation. What we are doing is HARD, some of the hardest things anyone ever has to do. It’s not just single parenting or putting the groceries away alone or sleeping alone or kissing all the boo boo’s. It’s also the mental fight of getting up every day, still doing it and not *just* surviving, but THRIVING, because for many of us this is still our kids life and livelihood.

    I pray your post will encourage more individuals to praise each others accomplishments, and truly support them during hardships. To remove the focus from their own abilities and instead support their friends who are growing new abilities in a crazy hard period of life.

    God’s blessings to you and your husband. I pray safety over him and all he is with, safety over you and your family, and the hope every day of that amazing homecoming!

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