Where are you from when you’re a military kid?

First, I just want to say thank you to all the people who commented on my post that was featured on Freshly Pressed this weekend. THANK YOU! I read every single comment and tried to respond to as many as possible. To any new followers, welcome!

Let’s get down to business.

A Facebook friend I know from high school posted this article about military kids having a tough time answering the question: Where are you from?

I’ve lived in 6 different states and in Europe for 10 years.

Standing on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England

My whole life this has been a tough question, and to this day I still hate when people ask me where I’m from.

Do I tell them where I was born but lived only for the first 6 years of my life?

Do I tell them where I spent the majority of my life?

Do I tell them where I went to university, the first place I felt like calling home?

Do I tell them where my parents currently live, even though I have never actually lived there?

Do I tell them about the little pieces of me that have been left in states all over the country?

Invariably, this often leads me to have a confused look and say, “Well, what do you mean by ‘from?'”

Although the answers to any of these questions would be truthful, there’s something uncomfortable about picking one and steadfastly sticking to it, with no explanation. It almost feels like you’re telling a slight untruth to a stranger.

The weird thing is that a lot of people are weird about it. They don’t get it, and you have to explain the whole military thing, moving every couple years, etc. A lot of people get sympathetic and say, “That must have been hard growing up like that!” Not really. It’s all I or any of us knew. Another common thing is that they’ll latch on to one thing – that I grew up in England. They can’t understand why I don’t have an English accent. It’s weird to me because everyone pretends to be so patriotic with all the “support our troops” stuff, but they seem to be simultaneously confused about the existence of a military and the lifestyle that must accompany it.

Largely to avoid the same conversation/explanation for the millionth time I’ve developed this odd (to me) thing of saying, “Err … ummm … well, I was born in Florida, but I’m from Ohio now.”

Even though I’ve come to love Ohio as the Great State, I still feel like I can’t fully say I’m “from” there.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever settle down and end up living in a place for so long that I’ll finally be able to say yes, I’m from here.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Where are you from when you’re a military kid?

  1. I’m with you on this, even though I wasn’t a military kid. I was born in Hong Kong but lived all over Europe, Latin America and the USA from just a few weeks old. I only came back to Hong Kong as a far-too-grown man (of dubious maturity, I might add). Like you, I kind of have a hard time answering where I’m from. For the nosey parkers, I now simply answer [back] with “Where do you want me to be from?”

  2. U know… this is true not only about children of military personnel but about govt. service personnel and their children, my dad is a doctor in the govt service and he keeps gettin posted every few years to different places, initially til we finished school we didn move much though dad used to move around, but once we were through school v started moving too, though i’ve not been to far off places i still cant call any one city as my “from” place, i love what i’ve become absorbing all the cities and lifestyles into my own personality.. and its definitely difficult to explain to people what that feels like!
    I love this article, reflects something of me…

    • Oh definitely! I guess I have a hard time understanding their lifestyle as well, knowing the same people their entire lives. Sometimes I wish I had that, but mostly I’m happy with how I grew up for the same reasons!

  3. As a complete outsider, I like to read about experiences like this, cause it seems fun. I’ve only lived two places, but they pretty much glide into one place as they are pretty close, and both are in Norway.

  4. I have this problem too. My parents were not in the military but moved us around like crazy. I have lived in nine states. Usually I just pick my favorite and say that is where I am from. :)

  5. I’ve always answered New Jersey even though I didn’t live there long. I go by the birth certificate, and will just add that I’ve been a Floridian most of my life. ‘Cuz lord knows you “Florida crackers” won’t let anyone forget.

  6. I know what you mean – we moved around a lot when I was a child (by birth, I’m Brazilian, by passport, I’m British), and even though I’ve been in Cape Town for almost 10 years now, it doesn’t really feel like home – but I couldn’t tell you where DOES!

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