November 15, 2016

“Well, you signed up for this.”

I hate when people say this to me. Usually, it’s when I’m complaining about something the military does. I’m not the only one who hates being reminded that this is what we “signed up for” when we just happened to fall in love with someone in the military.


I think that this phrase is sometimes seen as a way to shut down people who are complaining about whatever situation they are in. Deployment is hard? Well, you signed up for this. You don’t like your classes? Well, you signed up for this. You don’t get any sleep because you’re balancing work and school and family? Well, you signed up for this. Suck it up. Don’t complain.

I was talking with a friend about different things that are hard about being a military spouse. She said something that will stick with me forever.

She said that when military life gets hard, she likes to remind herself that she signed up for this. She signed up for this because she knows she can do it. Because she wants to do it.

I think that is a really empowering way of looking at things. Because the woman who signed up for this had confidence that she could do it. When things get hard, I want to think back to that woman I was, the woman who didn’t know what she was getting into, but knew she could do it anyway.

Nick's commissioning in May 2007

I want to remember the woman who had never lived far from home but decided to move 6,000 miles away, to a place she had never been.

I want to remember the woman who said goodbye as Nick packed up and drove across country to his first submarine.

I want to remember the woman who held back her tears as Nick left for his first deployment.

I want to remember the woman who didn’t understand what deployments would be like, but signed up to stand beside Nick through them.

I want to remember the woman who kicked those deployments in the but, and decided to sign up to do more.

I want to remember the confidence I had in myself to thrive as a military spouse, in Nick to do the best he can, in my friends and family to support me.

But it’s not just me.

The person who signed you up to go to grad school, to have kids, to take on that stressful job —- that person knew that you could do it.

When you signed up for it, you didn’t know exactly what it would entail. But you knew that you wanted to do it. You had faith in yourself to do it.

And, just because you signed up for something doesn’t mean you can’t complain about it.

Today, I want to give thanks with a grateful heart for my friends who lift me up when I’m down. For people who can help me put things in a new perspective. I want to give thanks to my past self, for signing me up for this, for having that confidence in myself to do it. Because my past self was right. I can do this and I love doing it. I can’t imagine my life without Nick and without being a part of the military community. On the hard days, that’s what I need to remind myself.

So yes, I signed up for this. Because I know I can do it. And so can you.

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22 responses to “Yup, I signed up for this.”

  1. Audrey says:

    I’m sure that I’m guilty of saying, “You signed up for this” in regards to something, but I agree that it’s a cop-out phrase. It devalues the feelings of others which is pretty crappy. I love that you turned the phrase into a positive motto, though! That’s the right way to go about life!

    • Carolann says:

      That is such a good way of putting it. It is a way to devalue someone else’s feelings. It really bothers me when people say it to me because I just want them to listen and say, “Wow that sucks!!”

      But now I own that phrase. Yes, I did sign up for this, because I can do it.

  2. I cannot tell you how much I love this. You are amazing!

  3. This is such a brilliant post. I love the sentiment and I’m going to fly my flag high for what I’ve signed up for. Thank you for sharing, genuinely!

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment. I really wanted this post to resonate with everyone, whether or not you are involved with military life, and I was worried it wouldn’t. Be proud of what you signed up for and go get it!

  4. This is seriously such an amazing post today Carolann! Seriously all military family members always amaze me because y’all are always so strong! I don’t think that anybody truly knows what to expect when they sign up for the military, but y’all can handle whatever life throws at you!

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much, Ashley! I think that all of us can handle a lot more than we think or give ourselves credit for. I swore I would never date someone in the military (haha!), but here I am 9 years later thinking I could never do life any other way.

  5. Carly says:

    While I can’t imagine ever saying something like that to someone, it doesn’t surprise me that someone has said it– maybe not with malice, but not realizing how insensitive it is. I haven’t been following your blog for a super long time yet, but I’m already so inspired the posts you’ve shared that are related to your life as a military spouse.

    • Carolann says:

      Oh wow thank you! I absolutely don’t think people mean to say it in a mean way, but it kind of makes me feel like they are invalidating my feelings. Sometimes I really just want to vent and thats it. It’s hard for me to remember that you can’t really understand what someone else is going through. Even among other military spouses, experience are so different. All you need sometimes is a shoulder to cry on and a friend to bring you cake.

  6. Jen says:

    I really enjoyed this post! I’ve had a lot of people say that to me and to be honest it used to bother me but it really doesn’t anymore. I have learned that the people that say that just don’t understand and it is their own ignorance.

    • Carolann says:

      Thank you so much! That is such a good way to look at it. It used to be really important to me to try to get my civilian family and friends to understand. It would frustrate me when the couldn’t remember things that I would tell them about the military or relate to what I was going through. But then I realized that we are all fighting our own battles and you can never truly understand what any other person is going through, not even other military spouses.

  7. Selena says:

    What a great post! You hear that phrase often and it does poke at my feelings. I love this perspective and flipping it 🙂

  8. Rachel G says:

    It is ridiculously true that we mostly don’t truly know what we’re getting into at the moment we “sign up”–because you can’t know, really, not without living it. Sometimes I look back at my younger self and wonder how in the world I, at 18 years old, had the courage to ‘sign up’ for life married to Angel. Or at 22, to ‘sign up’ to get rid of most everything I owned and move to China. At the moment I’m a little wary of making more commitments but I’m proud of the commitments I’ve made and followed through on.

    • Carolann says:

      It’s interesting how the acts that take the biggest leap of faith — getting married, moving to a new country — can be the best, most rewarding decisions that we ever make. While I didn’t really know what I was signing up for when I married Nick, I didn’t really worry about it, because I knew that whatever we faced, at least we had each other. And when we moved to Hawaii, I was scared to leave the town I had lived in my entire life, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Getting married at 18, something inside you definitely knew that it was the right thing to do, that no matter what happened, you wanted to sign up for life with Angel. Trust that gut.

  9. Natalie says:

    Military spouses and families are SO strong and I have the utmost respect for everything that they have to sacrifice in order for their significant others to serve. I think it stinks that people use “You signed up for this” as a way to brush your difficulties to the side. I know that I’ve had troubles in my life (as a parent, as a college/ grad student, etc), and I would HATE to hear something as dismissive as that. Great post!

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much. I really appreciate your comment. I really do enjoy being a military spouse and I don’t want it any other way! But sometimes you just need a shoulder to cry on, you don’t want to be strong for just a few minutes, and you just want someone to listen.

  10. Amanda says:

    I think this is really applicable to having kids as well. At least that’s what I was thinking about as I read. Having a baby is HARD but in many ways (for me at least; I know some people don’t choose it), I signed up for this because I wanted it, and even in the bad times I know that it’s what I really wanted and it’s the best even when it’s hard. But I can’t imagine having my husband gone for long periods and the fear of combat and that sort of thing. That is inspiring and impressive what you wives do. 🙂

    • Carolann says:

      Yes, I agree — this is very true for having babies, getting married, a lot of things. You sign up without knowing really what it’s going to involve but you know you want to do it. Something inside me just tells me that I am not quite ready to sign up to have a baby even though I want one, some day, more than I can say.

      And thank you. As hard as it is, I don’t think I am at all impressive!! I think that I have it pretty easy with my husband on a submarine. It’s hard when he’s gone and we can’t talk. But generally I don’t have to worry about him *too much* because the whole point of a submarine is that no one knows where you are. I just have to hope that they remain hidden.

  11. Emma says:

    I think we’re all guilty of playing the “woe is me” card – well done for embracing the positive!

    • Carolann says:

      I definitely feel like “woe is me” sometimes. But I try to hard to stay positive and remember how truly great I have it.

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