Make Your Own Windows
By: Brianna Cooley
Life is hard. Moving to a new installation or environment is tough and connecting with people and fitting in can be really challenging.
Transitions are hard, but being proactive can make it easier.
I moved to Barksdale AFB when I was in seventh grade. Middle school is already hard enough, but add in kids not being friendly, my brother and sister living away for college and Air Force Basic Training and being in a new place where I knew no one? Rough.
I went from being on homecoming court and involved in quite a few clubs in Alabama to not having any friends and no possibility of small groups here in Louisiana. But in eighth grade I started trying new sports and clubs and was finally able to gain an officer role in my school’s Beta Club. Ninth grade (16 months into our new duty station) was definitely my break-through year. I was able to be a Senator on Student Council and become active in both s2s and FCA.
Now as a tenth grader I am president of the sophomore class, president of s2s, working on completing my second semester of dual enrollment and a member of the varsity cheer, swim and tennis teams. Although I was constantly working to gain traction at school, but my community activities were what carried me through.
With everything that I was doing outside of school… my school inclusion issues became the least of my worries or my concern.
I began starting my own initiatives in 7th and 8th grade. The first one was very small, B’s Birthday Surprises. This was where I would go around base and surprise airmen on their birthday by request of a family member that could not visit them here at their installation. Now, 2 years later, the initiatives are much larger. B’s Bags are hygiene/snack packs distributed to homeless friends around the US on our travels and Lil Warrior’s Kindness Krewe where we mentor children and promote community service is thriving. Through this serving I have met the greatest people… people that love me, encourage me and push me in ways I never knew possible.
Moral of this story is simple. Just like kids, you as a military spouse or civilian have probably had similar struggles fitting in, no matter what your environment was.
It took over two years for the school environment to come around and be better for me. Instead of waiting for that, it just forced me to open my own window and create my own opportunities to meet people and enrich my life.
If you are struggling with friends, neighbors, whatever at your new installation or current life situation… don’t give up! Keep moving forward, but always think of other things you can do keep your feeling connected and engaged. Make your own window.
About the author:
Brianna is military child focused on tackling suicide prevention through mentoring children of all ages to discover their purpose through community service, leadership, and showing kindness. As a leader with Every Warrior Network, Brianna serves as Director of the Lil’ Warriors Kindness Krewe where she mentors children and provides parents and teachers with tools and daily challenges to promote kindness and service. As the Barksdale AFB #GivingTuesdayMilitary ambassador and team lead Brianna lead the effort to send over 7,000 holiday cards to airman at BMT for Christmas 2019 and collected over 1,500 food items for our local backpack ministry for elementary aged students facing food insecurity, ultimately achieving 10,000 acts of kindness. Brianna is an honors student, a cheerleader, and a tennis player. She serves in leadership with Student Council, S2S, FCA, and JROTC at school and is an active member of Team RWB. A huge part of Brianna’s life is developing initiatives to address problems she has discovered in her communities. To date she has created 4 initiatives, earned 5 Presidential Volunteer Service Awards (Gold), was recently recognized as a Top 5 Air Force Military Child of the Year finalist, and has appeared on several podcasts, local televisions segments, and panels.