I met Lily through a friend from college, we both served as bridesmaids at our friend’s wedding. We instantly clicked. There was something about Lily that created safety and comfort when she was around. Her and our mutual friend met through the Marine Corps, they were both veterans and proud hell’s dogs. Since I am currently active duty military I felt I quickly earned a spot in Lily’s heart. As I got to know her she told me about her life in the Marines, post her service, beating cancer, acquiring higher education and her wishes to be a woman in constant pursuit of greatness.
Today is Veteran’s Day and we honor Lily, we honor all those men and women who paved the way!!
“Becoming a Marine showed me just how mentally strong I was, and it boosted my self esteem a tremendous amount. I was 18 when I left home and I had never been away from my family for that length of time. So being out of my comfort zone, and not being able to reach out to my loved ones was difficult in the emotional and mental aspect. The physical part to me was the easiest to deal with. Don’t get me wrong those three months of physical, emotional and mental breakdown were trying. Being a Marine is difficult on its own, being a woman Marine is that much more difficult. Everyone is always watching your every move, just waiting for you to fail. Just so they can say to you” This is why women don’t belong in the military”. I for one was not going to let that happen to me. I worked harder, I never allowed anyone to feel that I owed them anything. Because yes some males felt that I owed them something if they offered any help. I could outrun, out hike, out do my male counterparts in many things. I was overlooked anyway. That didn’t stop me from doing my best.
The Marine corps taught me many valuable lessons but the two most important were 1. Giving up is not an option 2. Always fight for/go after what you want.
The never giving up part is what has gotten me through the most difficult hurdles in my life.
The experiences I had while in active duty made me realize that I wanted so much more for my life and family. Many people don’t leave because of the fear of failure once they leave active duty. A lot of us are still young with no backup plan so we are afraid to take a risk. I knew what I was willing to put up with and what was a deal breaker for me. Ultimately my becoming a Marine was just proving to myself that if I could do that, all 4 ft 11 inches of me, I could and would do anything I wanted. I could leave the military behind, rejoin society and be successful. It’s been a bumpy ride, but here I am. Still standing.” – Lily
1. Was is hard to integrate back into the civilian world post military life?
I did struggle some the first few months. I went through a depression. At times I felt like I had no purpose anymore. A short time later I realized that I did have a purpose, it just wasn’t to serve anymore. I talk to myself often-I know it sounds strange. But told myself that I had to find something new and I had to give it a go. I spent more time with my family and more time healing myself. I try to point out the positive side to others who are struggling after leaving active duty.I am just glad I arrived at making my peace with it.
- 2. I strongly believe that you have paved the way for other females to believe that we can succeed in the military. What advice do you have for those still in the service fighting the good fight?
Knowledge is power, no one can take that away from you. I am not only referring to college. The UCMJ, orders, and subjects & issues that interest you. Even if you don’t plan on leaving active duty after your first enlistment. Be prepared for life outside of the military. An educated woman is unstoppable. One, always be your own advocate, and look out for the lower ranking women. Solidarity amongst women is a beautiful thing. Two, never stop working on your self, physically, mentally and emotionally. There’s always room for improvement.
- 3. What is your proudest moment ?
I have so many!
I’ve accomplished so much, but my proudest moment was standing on the parade deck and receiving my Eagle, Globe and Anchor the day I became a Marine. There’s so much emotion attached to that moment.
- 4.What is next for Lily?
Now I am working on all the things I’ve said I wanted to do. A lifestyle blog, a non-profit for women, my real estate career and a food truck.
Why is it so important for me to tell you about my friend Lily? Because women like her are why women like me never give up. I take from her story and allow her wins to provide me with fuel to continue in whatever I am chasing. She is just one of many badass ladies doing the best and aiming for better. I thank her for her service, I salute her for her resilience and I look up to her drive. To all my military family, what you do is honorable and there is not enough thank yous in the world.
Happy Veterans Day!!
Follow Lily on Instagram : @lilyinthecity83 & @lilysellshouston