"Courage is the ability to do something even if you are scared to do it," says Victoria Reyes, age eleven.
A military child, Victoria is accustomed to summoning the courage to move every few years. She, like many others, has had to bravely choose to carefully pack up her prized possession, gingerly let the doors close behind her as she walked out of schools for the last time, and blink away tears as she said the dreaded long goodbye to countless friends.
Dual-Military, a Hard and Resilient Lifestyle
Victoria's experience is unique because her parents were dual-military. Both her mother and father were active duty soldiers at the same time. This distinctive lifestyle meant that when both of her parents would have to deploy or attend training at the same time, Victoria would need to live with close family and friends.
Instead of lamenting the obstacle of living without a biological parent in the same home, Victoria chose to focus on the opportunity of growing from the experience.
"The toughest challenge I have faced as a military child has been living in Hawaii with family away from my parents. It was really hard, but it made me resilient. It made me who I am."
Resilience through separation shaped Victoria into who she is today, a budding anime-inspired artist.
Victoria explains more about her love of artistic expression. "Art helps me cope and explore my emotions."
Victoria also works through hard emotions through drawing, like dissatisfaction with her mother living far away for training and her dad working long hours at a demanding job.
Military Kids can stay Strong by taking it Day by Day
Flexing her creative muscles has taught Victoria a lot about passion and goal setting. She is in her sweet spot when she is listening to music and using her iPad to create new pieces. Victoria has learned how to keep practicing and experimenting until she gets something right.
"I have learned to take my art day by day and my life step by step."
Even though Victoria is taking life step by step, she does have future aspirations of becoming a professional artist.
A Military Kid's Advice on Military Moves
Victoria also has a few pieces of advice for fellow military kids.
"Take time to appreciate the new cities you visit and experience the new states you live in. The different opportunities are the best part of this lifestyle."
She also shares another unexpected benefit of the transient lifestyle of military children.
"It's important to make new friends at each duty station, but also to stay in touch with your old friends. You never know if you will end up back together." Victoria speaks from experience in this area.
Through three moves and many years, she kept in contact with her friend Lailah by sending text messages and video chatting. The pair was ecstatic when Victoria and her family received orders to the same state so they could have sleepovers instead of just online chats.
Victoria's final piece of advice may be the most valuable, for children and adults alike.
"Do what you love and learn new things. They will help you cope with the tough situations you are going through."
What tools or activities do you turn to to help cope with tough situations?
You can read the full interview of Military Kid and artist, Victoria Reyes, in the article "How To Use Creativity To Cope With Challenging Situations, in Legacy Kids Volume I.
Interview by Katie Christy and Portrait by Jane Randall Cleek