5 Myths About Being Young and Engaged

I’ve been engaged for a little over a month, and I’ve been lucky enough to have mostly positive vibrations flowing from my family and friends upon hearing the news. However, I already know what will be said by new people I encounter who are skeptic of my life choices. You, the reader, might even think that 20 is just too young to be so romantically involved and emotionally invested in someone. Allow me to dispel some common assumptions.

1.) You’re not ready. Let me clue you in on my previous relationships: abusive, miserable, hopeless. I wasted a lot of my ‘prime’ teenaged years chasing people who never wanted to be with me in the first place and trying to force unhealthy relationships just so I wouldn’t be alone, and because I thought I was in love. I would even go as far as to say I’ve been through more crap in my ‘love life’ during the last 5 years than most people go through in their entire lives. When I found my fiancé, I found someone who made all of the pain of the past disappear. He loves me unconditionally, doesn’t make me feel guilty for any of my flaws, and ultimately, he’s my best friend. Yes, I am ready to accept that kind of love into my life forever, and no one is in a position to tell me I’m not.

2.) You’re not mature enough. Well, if you had said this to me a couple of years ago, I would have to agree. I was completely immature in those past relationships. I made a lot of mistakes and hurt a lot of people, and got hurt a lot as well. I had to go through all of that to become to emotionally mature person I am now. And of course, there’s always room to grow; my future husband and I plan to grow together. We are mature enough to realize that we’ll be engaged for an extended period of time to allow me to finish school and for the both of us to save, which brings us to the next assumption…

3.) You’re not financially stable enough. You’re right, I don’t have a career yet- I’m only in college. I do work a couple of different paid jobs as well as an unpaid internship though. Seeing as my fiancé does have a steady paying job, he makes sure we’re both taken care of and that his bills are paid on time. Money is not a factor in our relationship, and wasn’t an area of apprehension for him when he asked me to marry him. The fact that my family still helps me out financially has nothing to do with the love that I share with my fiancé. We do the best that we can, and yes, we know how expensive weddings and honeymoons are, we are perfectly aware. We’re more than happy saving up for a couple of years to make sure we get exactly what we want.

4.) You’re missing out on being young. I find this one funny because… I am young. My age dictates the fact that I am young. When people say this, what they really mean is that ‘you’re missing out on acting crazy.’ I’m missing out on getting drunk on cheap liquor at a dirty fraternity house and feeling pressured to hook up with someone who probably wouldn’t even talk to me again after he got what he wanted? Cool, that was never my thing anyways. And I am NOT judging people my age who do these things, not at all. All I’m saying is that, partying and hooking up and all of that stuff was never for me. I don’t feel like college-aged kids should be blamed for wanting to do those things, but in my eyes, I also see them as ‘missing out’ on making a really deep connection with someone who will always love and respect them. But ultimately, they’re not at that stage of their life yet- I am. I had my small fix of being ‘crazy’ and dating around, and now I found someone I envision myself being happy with for the rest of my life- and we sure as Hell enjoy being young together!

5.) Nobody gets married this young anymore, it won’t work out. Yeah, I know that a lot of people are getting married when they’re ‘older’ now, but think about this: 27 is not old either. 27 is just an age that’s expected to be financially stable and emotionally ready for commitment, and therefore, presumed to be a good ‘marrying’ age. But the reality is that everyone’s different, and wether your financially stable or emotionally ready or not, the opportunity sometimes presents itself unexpectedly. I had no idea that my fiancé was going to propose to me, but I could not imagine my life without him. It doesn’t matter if I were 20 or 27 at the time he asked me, ‘yes’ was the only word I would have said. We actually have plenty of friends who are our age and happily married, and we know all of them through the military. Many young military members prefer the married life: it promises love, support, and stability in a lifestyle that doesn’t lend itself to those values. And, not to mention, how many parents and grandparents do you know who have been together since high school?

Young married couples are thought of as blinded by puppy love, stupid and impulsive in their decisions. For me, that’s seems to better describe college relationships that are solely based on physical attraction and petty drama. But now that I’m engaged, and even when I was only dating my fiancé, I’ve never felt so level-headed in a relationship in my life. I am able to take a step back and think, hey, I really love this person, and neither of us are perfect, but we want to be together forever, and we’re both willing to put the time and effort in to make it happen, no matter what.

Everyone’s lives play out in a certain way, and

it’s nobody’s job to make others feel bad about or second-guess what makes them happy. There’s always the ‘I’m just giving advice, we just want what’s best for you!’ argument, but advice would be suggesting how to finance for the future, or to give tips on how to work through difficult situations that arise in marriage. If asked for, this info is greatly appreciated! Advice is not telling someone what you think is best for them.

When you think about reversing the questions to apply to, say, a newly engaged couple in the 60’s- “you’re too old, you missed your chance, etc.”- you realize how silly these questions are. People have no problems with the idea that you’re never too old to find love, and I think it’s time we include the idea that you’re never too young to find love, too.

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How to Make a Kick-ass Halfway Box (Without Breaking the Bank)

You and your sailor have spent a pretty penny at the Nex buying everything he/she needs for underway.
You've nagged about how much toothpaste they need and how many pairs of underwear to pack.
He or she has stuffed their rack [living quarters aboard the sub] to the brim. But something's missing…

Ah yes, the halfway box! Wether it's your first deployment (like me) or your 100th deployment, halfway boxes tend to lift the spirits of both spouse and sailor.

If you're anything like me, you've been crying left and right at the thought of how much you'll miss your sailor.
But, making the halfway box definitely made me feel like I had a little bit of power in making my fiancé's first underway experience a little more personable and- hopefully- more bearable.

And I know it's going to cheer him up- wether he opens it up at halfway point or sooner- to get a few of his favorite snacks that they probably don't have on the boat.

And that's exactly what a halfway box is, for my new Navy girlfriends and fiancés and non-military readers: a small-sized box that contains the favorite snacks and other smaller items that your sailor loves, but has no access to underway.

My mom is also a Navy wife, and I see her and her other Navy wife friends, as well as the FRG (Family Readiness Group) come together to share ideas and materials to decorate their boxes.

But, if you're like me, a Navy girlfriend/fiancé with no access to other spouses or the FRG, you're kind of on your own to figure this whole halfway box situation out. Allow me to answer some of your questions!

1.) What should I use as my box?

If you're creating your box on a budget, you have two standard options: a cardboard box, or a plastic, tupperware-like container.
I personally went with a plastic container that I found at walmart that was 14" x 8" x 4 7/8". There were bigger and smaller options available, but as I have no idea how much space my sailor actually has, I decided to go with the middle to smaller sized box. I found that I could still fit a decent amount inside of it.
I also liked that it came with a lid, and I wouldn't have to worry about using a lot of heavy-duty tape to keep it secure.
Going with a plastic container saves waste product in the end, as there is no cardboard to break down and recycle or tape to throw away, and your sailor can use it for storage purposes after he's eaten all of his snacks!

While a cardboard box would obviously work well for other branches of the military where you can send your significant other mail, I feel a plastic container works better for submariners, seeing as
A.) we can't send tangible mail (the exception being mail drops, but is hard for Navy girl/boyfriends and fiancés to accomplish without FRG involvement)
B.) Submarine waste product is either disposed of into the ocean or has to wait until they surface, and
C.) space is limited.

2.) What should I put in my box?

This is where the fun comes in: picking out what goes into the box!
Think about all the yummy snack foods that your sailor loves. A few ideas to get your brain flowing are:

  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Pre-popped popcorn
  • Beef jerkey/Slim Jims
  • Nuts
  • Gummy or other non-chocolate candies
  • Gum, mints or cough drops
  • Drink mixes (my fiancé asked for Mio Energy since he normally drinks energy drinks but can't easily bring them aboard. Other favorites include Crystal Light, Kool Aid, etc.)
  • Assorted cookie, brownie or muffin bites
  • Packaged dessert snacks, such as Twinkies, Cosmic brownies, etc.
  • Energy, granola or cereal bars
  • Sunflower/other seeds
  • Dried fruit or fruit leather (Fruit by the Foot, for example)
  • Pretzel sticks

Do not include pasteurized products, and be wary of chocolate as it could melt and create a mess, although I know a lot of people who gave chocolate with no issues.

Think about the timeframe of your sailor's deployment. Are they deployed for their birthday, or other holidays? If so, you may want to include some seasonal or traditional items!
Here's what I included in my halfway box. Although it doesn't look like much, I decided to get bigger bags of the snacks instead of many smaller-sized snacks, as I feel this will last my fiancé longer and therefore, be worth the extra dollar they cost. These are also his absolute favorite; I didn't include any extra 'filler' snacks.

You may also wish to include other little trinkets to remind your sailor of home or brighten their day. Some ideas are:

  • Small joke books
  • Prayer card or other religious paraphernalia, if applicable
  • Little drawings or favorite quotes
  • Deck of cards
  • Small photo album (you can see mine in the first picture! I included photos of us, as well as of his family and dog!)

*These are also things you could include in letters, which is what I ended up doing!*

You also cannot send anything inherently flammable. For example, my fiancé will unfortunately be underway for his birthday, but I can't send him candles.

Don't feel like you have to cram fifty different things into your box. Think about your sailor's absolute favorite things, and try to find them in bigger packages.
Your sailor will be so happy to get their hands on a snack they haven't had in awhile that they won't even care about the quantity. He or she will be thankful no matter what!

3.) How should I decorate my box?

Decorating the box is the final step in the process, but should not be hastily or overdone.
The main reason for decorating the box is to hide the contents of what's inside! Otherwise, the element of surprise is gone, and the point of a halfway box is lost!

Decorating is super fun and gives you a chance to be creative, but can also get costly fast. Craft supplies are expensive!

While you may see decked-out boxes on other military blog websites, perhaps thirty different kinds of sparkly scrapbook stickers are just not in the budget right now. And that's okay!

The good news is that you don't need to take a small loan out for your box is to look amazing. All you need is a plan!

When I say 'plan,' I mean that you should think about the overall theme of your box.

Having a themed box will help prevent overbuying materials you won't need or use, as well as prevent wasting of materials if you decide you no longer like what you've started.

Do you want it to be themed around your sailor's favorite color? Be sure to buy construction paper in that color. Their favorite tv show? Maybe you can print a couple of photos from that show and glue them onto to the box.

This is another opportunity to think about the timeframe of your sailor's deployment and consider what events he or she might be missing.

Basic materials such as glue, tape, construction paper, markers and crayons, can all be bought at the dollar store or walmart for cheap.
I've also found that dollar stores tend to have a decent selection of stickers considering the price.

It also helps to buy things you know will double their use and can be used for other projects or future halfway boxes.

The rainbow pony stickers may be cute, but you may want to think twice before you buy them if you're not sure they'll ever be used. And if you do end up buying them, think twice about putting them on the box- his crew will bust on him!

I decided to go with a patriotic theme, covering the inside of the box with red, white and blue paper. I used tape instead of glue to minimize the mess.
Simple! Now he can't see what's inside.

I then decorated the top of the box with a little rhyme I came up with.
Overall, a simple yet themed box.

If you don't like or trust your handwriting, use some stickers to write a sweet message or little rhyme like this. If you can't come up with anything, a quick google search should do the trick (or just borrow mine, I'm sure plenty of people have used it before me!)

Consider your sailor's interests and the inside jokes you share. You could tape or glue pictures on the inside of the lid and decorate it to your liking!

Anything to get your sailor to smile and laugh is definitely worth the effort!

You don't have to buy a huge box and stuff it to the brim with expensive snacks and fancy decorations (In fact, don't! They probably won't have room for a big box, and an over-the-top box might make your guy the center of attention- in a bad way!)

All that matters is that your halfway box was made with love (corny, but you know it's true!)- and a few good snacks!

I hope this post was helpful, especially to first timers like myself!

My fiancé and I are both so new to real submariner life- if you're in the same boat (pun definitely intended) as a new significant other or spouse, reach out! Leave a comment below! And if you're seasoned (meaning you've done this before), advice is always appreciated!

Cheers to an extraordinary life- and an extraordinary halfway box!

Why you need a Deployment Bucket list

Deployment sucks, no matter which way you look at it.
Nobody likes leaving the comfort and safety of their home and all of their loved ones for an extended period of time unless it's for vacation.

Deployment is no vacation, especially for first- time sailors and their spouses.

If you're like me and you've never spent extended time away from your significant other, and you're wondering how the heck you're going to survive, consider making a deployment bucket list.

When I was searching through other military blogs for tips and tricks on surviving, a few blogs suggested creating a list of things you want to do while your significant other is underway (I was inspired by Show Me Ashley and Jo My Gosh , two other really great military/lifestyle blogs).

I've had my own personal bucket list for a long time now, and I do plan to write about that in a separate blog post at a later date. However, I do think having a bucket list specifically for deployment can be really beneficial.

Having a list of things you want to do for fun- not just to-do items you need to cross off your list- is a great way to spend some quality time with yourself!

I know, I know- I love spending time with my fiancé too, as much as anyone does!

But I'm also a college student with only a year and a half left before I enter the workforce. That's also around the time we plan to be married.

I've got a great, big family and a few awesome friends and a whole world in front of me.

Of course I would prefer to have my fiancé by my side 100% of the time. But he picked a career he loves, and he's good at it, and he's about to make his own memories, too! So I figure I (and any other spouses trying to make the best of a less-than-stellar situation) should try and do the same!

Of course it's okay to be sad and miss your significant other. The truth is that we all feel this way during deployment- like the best part of us is missing. But that doesn't mean we should punish ourselves! Cry it out if you must, pick yourself up out of bed, and view this deployment as a chance to reconnect with your goals and interests.

While my fiancé and I enjoy a lot of activities together, there are a lot of things I'm interested in that he is not- and that's completely fine!
I wanted to add those things that I enjoy to my list, which I split into categories

Fitness

  • Go for some hikes. I live around lots of beautiful trails that are only a short driving distance away, and I could do this either alone or with friends! This will also give me a chance to get some good exercise and work towards my next item…
  • Lose 10 pounds. While this isn't a necessity for me, it would definitely help my self confidence as I have just a small amount of extra weight. I feel that once I get into a rhythm with school and work starting back up, it'll come naturally, since I'm a yoga instructor at my university. Which brings me to my next item…
  • Increase flexibility. While yoga is not about the poses, there are a few poses I would like to be able do consistently with confidence so that I may include them in my lessons!

Social

  • Attend some sporting events. I really enjoy watching football, soccer, basketball and other sports live, but my fiancé does not. This is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with friends cheering on our university's sporting teams and getting my school spirit on! (Entry into the games are also free for students and they usually have a lot of cool freebies up for grabs, which is always nice!)
  • Make a new friend or two. This would be nice since I'm typically very introverted (I know right? An introvert running a blog? Who would have thought, haha!) and don't like to party hard like a lot of students at my school, but I won't force it. The best friendships and relationship [with my fiancé] I've ever had in life have always come unexpectedly, but naturally.
  • Plan for our wedding. There are a few venues I want to take a look at, and I'd definitely love to bring some family/friends along to give input and advice. Planning the wedding also gives me something to keep looking forward to when I might be feeling particularly down in the dumps.

Work and School

  • Maintain my 4.0 GPA (sorry to toot my own horn!)
  • Save money- although I do envision myself needing days to treat myself when I feel like I need a pick-me-up… or a new outfit!
  • Continue to work on this blog and grow my following. This blog is giving me a chance to work my writing skills, cope with my feelings of sadness from the deployment in a healthy way, and learn the art of blogging.

I think this is a pretty good list to start out with. As this is our first deployment, I wanted to keep it simple, achievable and realistic.

Don't feel pressured to have to do every single thing on your list- remember to have fun and use it as a chance to treat yourself!

What are your thoughts on my list? Too long/short, or just right? I'm always open to suggestions! Let me know what you think of my deployment bucket list, and enjoy writing your own!

20 Fast Facts About Me

Hello everyone! Now that UnKayventional is finally a real-life thing and I’ve made my introductory blog post , I’m really trying to learn the ins and outs of WordPress to bring you a quality website that’s easy and fun to read. Before I begin any major categorized posts though, I think some fun, fast facts are in order to help you guys understand a little bit more about me and my life. So let’s get to it!

1.) I live in Upstate New York, in the Capital Region!

I know what you’re thinking: so since you don’t live in the City, you must live in cow country? No!… I mean, yes, kind of! The Capital Region of New York is full of hidden jewels, such as beautiful forests and hiking trails, scenic lakes, as well as more touristy-type areas with popular restaurants and shops. And while yes, the area I grew up in was semi-rural, it was a good mix of suburban neighborhood living and pretty outdoorsy vibes. For example, the pictures below are of my father’s backyard (yes, really!). I love how my siblings and I have several acres of forests, natural trails, streams and small waterfalls to explore. To me, this is what I imagine the enchanted forests out of my childhood princess stories looking like, I love living in New York- until winter comes!

2.) I’m originally from Florida!

Although New York owns a large piece of my heart, I’m also partial to Florida, my birth state! I was born on Eglin Air Force Base- the military has always played a decent-sized role in my life- on the Florida panhandle, near Fort Walton Beach! I love sunshine, I love heat, and I love the ocean: all things that are trademarks of Florida living, and few and far between in New York (although our summers are brutal!).

 

3.) I’m engaged to the love of my life!

Yes, I am lucky enough to have meet my person at the young age of 20! Steven is my best friend and the best thing that’s ever happened to me, quite honestly. He’s in the U.S. Navy- We met while he was at prototype in New York. I plan to write a lot about our adventures in military life!

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4.) I spend a lot of time in Washington state!

My mother’s husband is also in the Navy, and this is where they are stationed currently; as well as where Steven is stationed! I’ve been coming to visit for a couple of years now. After college I will move to the lovely Puget Sound area and officially begin my life with Steven.

5.) Seattle is my favorite city!

Seattle is the best city ever in my opinion. Every time I go I only fall in love with it more. If you’re not a city person (like me), Seattle is the city for you. Chill, uncrowded, with a cute ocean pier area and iconic sites like the Space Needle and Monorail!

6.)My top bucketlist item is to visit all 50 states in America!

I really love my country and traveling, and at 20 years old, I’ve already visited more than half of the states! I’ve driven down the east coast, almost the entirety of the west coast, and across country- talk about road tripping! I will definitely write some travel articles and spill some tips on how to make traveling happen, but it’s military life and a family that loves to travel that I owe my experiences to. Forever grateful to see so many great places!

7.) I’m an English major- and proud!

For awhile I struggled to come to terms with my skill, overcome with negative stereotypes: I thought, writing? There’s no money in that. There’s no steady, well-paying jobs in the writing world. I don’t want to teach! But I knew in my heart that there’s nothing else I’d rather do in my life, that for myself, money could never trump happiness. After deciding to follow my heart, I realized that my mind had tricked me, and my previously negative assumptions were just that-assumptions! I’ve got a couple of online publications, I’ve had publication companies and editors reach out to me via social media, and I’ve got this blog- and I haven’t even graduated yet!

8.) I enjoy hula hooping and yoga!

Fewer things make me so happy (and so frustrated) as flow arts and yoga! Let me explain what I mean: just dancing inside my hula hoop or flowing effortlessly through a yoga routine are so incredibly calming to me, and I usually get an instant mood boost for the rest of the day if I start my day off with them! But not being able to land a new trick or stick a new pose frustrates me to no end! However, the happy vibes I feel when dancing and flowing definitely outweigh any frustrations I feel. I actually teach yoga at my university, set to begin in a few short weeks! Let me know if you guys want me to post more on these topics, I’d be happy to share what I know, even though I’m certainly not a pro at either!

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9.) I have a huge family!

I am the oldest of 3 sisters and 3 brothers- all half or step and all coming from either side of my split family, and I love it. I’m also a lot older than them; the next oldest after me is 12, and the youngest is only 2. I’ve had the privilege of taking care of and watching them all grow, and I wouldn’t change that for the world! I also have a german shepard and bearded dragon! I love my big family and everything they do for me.

10.) I live with a disorder called Trichotillomania.

Trich, for short, is an impulse-control disorder that causes me, and millions of other people, to want to pull out their hair. It’s often accompanied with one or more mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, OCD, etc. Talking about the most secretive and shameful part of me is difficult, but perhaps I shall write some articles having to do with how mental illness affects relationships and daily life. I would love to be able to bring awareness to a disorder that’s highly unheard of due to low report rates, due to the shame and secrecy that accompany trich. Medical research on trich is also extremely limited; I’d be honored to contribute positively to a community that feels ignored by society for so many reasons. For any ‘trichsters’ who might be reading this, I love you, stay strong. ❤

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So there you have it, 10 facts about me. Feel free to comment some love, suggest any post topics you’d like to read, follow me on my social media accounts, and I’ll be back again soon with some more content!

A Quick Rundown Of My Blog

Wow, I never thought I’d actually take the plunge into the blogging world, but here I am, writing my very first blog post!

For those who don’t know me, hi! My name is Kayleigh, I’m a 20-year-old English major living in upstate New York (and there’s a whole lot more around here than just cows!), and I created this blog for a multitude of reasons.

For starters, Unkayventional is the final fruition of an idea I’ve had in my head for a longggg time. I’ve always loved writing, and it’s a my dream of mine to have a book published someday. But I have also always wanted to help people- perhaps through my writing!

Unkayventional is my attempt at creating a space of learning and growing for both blogger (that’s me!) and reader (that’s you!) about a lot of life’s unconventional twists and turns, and finding the good in the bad- particularly with the military!

The military has always played a role in my life, and now that I’m engaged to the man of my dreams- who happens to be in the Navy- it’s about to play an even bigger role!

But, as anyone who knows anything about military life, being a girlfriend or fiancé is completely different from being an official spouse. And even more different? The fact that I’ll be living across the country from my future husband while I finish up college.

I know what you’re thinking: a college-aged girl in a long distance engagement to a Navy sailor? That’s exactly why I made this blog, to share my experiences and connect with other military significant others, and prove that military relationships, although difficult, are worth having and totally doable, especially when true love is in the mix 🙂

I would also like to note that, as I stated earlier, I am just a 20-year-old English major living in Upstate New York and yadah yadah yadah. This all just for fun. I only speak from personal experience and would never advise anyone to do anything that could potentially cause harm or distress. That being said, take all the advice you read on here as suggestions, and with a grain of salt.

Please feel free to comment and share advice and ask questions, but take heed that rude and obscene comments will be deleted and your access to Unkayventional could become limited. This is a safe place for growing and learning; let’s vow to lift each other up, and cheers to an extraordinary life!