Orange is the New Black. Have you heard of the series? It’s on Netflix and centres around Litchfield Women’s Prison and the incarceration of a privileged New Yorker whose past crimes finally caught up with her. I’ve watched almost all three series and apart from some stuff that doesn’t really interest me, the storylines are rather intriguing. The series made me realise there are a lot of parallels between TV prison as shown on Orange is the New Black, and the Navy. I absolutely don’t mean that in a bad way; let me explain.
In the series, they’re all made to wear a uniform, they address each other predominantly by their last names, they form their own families within the prison, they have their own work parties to take part in and take pride in, they share their messes in a communal dining hall and have to serve a certain amount of time. Much like the Navy.
It was interesting to watch an episode last night. One of the inmates was accidentally given an early release and was driven to the local bus depot with $40 in her pocket and a bus ticket to a nearby town. Instead of jumping on that bus, she sat there. Sat there until the Assistant Warden came to apprehend her. When asked why she didn’t get on the bus, she said she didn’t know where to go.
Tonight marks the last night of my 13-and-a-half-year career in the Royal Australian Navy. I kind of feel like that prisoner. I am now sitting at the bus stop, willingly transferring from full time service, and I have No. Idea. Where I’m going. Obviously my situation is extremely different in that I volunteered to serve in the Navy and I am voluntarily leaving, but I’m sitting at that bus stop, for the first real time as an adult wondering what the heck I’m going to do!
Of course, I’m a Mum, and a small business owner, but I don’t know what job I’m going to do when I grow up! I’ve been a Naval Officer for so long, I feel like I’m losing that part of my identity. Sure, there are the memories and the photos, the friends and the experiences, but I will no longer be part of that exclusive club to which I’ve belonged for so long. I will miss it dearly as it has helped me become the person I am today. It has made me the leader I am, the manager, the friend, the daughter, the wife and even the Mother I am.
I will be forever grateful to the Navy and all it has given me over the years.
I will miss the uniform, and the pride in which I took to iron my creases in every day. I will miss the excitement I felt when deploying. I will miss the instant family made when you stepped onboard a ship. I will miss the feeling of professional competence in a job I knew well. The travel. The feeling of belonging. Despite all the wonderful friends and family I have around me, supporting me through this transition, I feel like an enormous part of me is disappearing. Sure, I’ll probably go and complete some Reserve work here and there, but it just isn’t the same.
No longer will I have the excitement (and unnerving uncertainty) of the possibility of being posted to another state, or even another country. There’ll be no new staff coming and going. No more professional adult conversation; no more helping people learn their new jobs. The Navy provided me with so many amazing opportunities I could never experience anywhere else.
So given all of this awesomeness, you might wonder why I’m leaving.
I’ve served my time with pleasure and dedication, pride and commitment… but now it is time to focus on my family and the growth of my business so I can stay at home more. I’ve been given wonderful opportunities for part time and flexible work in the Navy, but it wasn’t enough for me. Whilst I crave adventure and travel, my focus is now on our beautiful kids and seeing them grow through their childhood. Which, mind you, is already zooming past.
My decision allows me to not rush the kids out of the door in the morning, and allows them to know Mummy will be home every night. My decision allows me the freedom to choose what I want to wear every day, to call people by their first names, and to choose my own adventure. My decision allows me to spend time with my own family. So whilst Orange may be the New Black for prison, red nails and family are the new black (and white) for me.
I’m excited, scared, devastated and happy all at the same time.
Thank you to those who have been part of my past and to those who will help me build my new future.