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A place to find yourself

Emine Apaydin, 39th Air Base Wing public affairs administrative assistant, poses for a photo May 29, 2019, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Apaydin encourages Airmen to make every day count by learning about the Turkish culture and meeting their personal and professional goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ceaira Tinsley)

Emine Apaydin, 39th Air Base Wing public affairs administrative assistant, poses for a photo May 29, 2019, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Apaydin encourages Airmen to make every day count by learning about the Turkish culture and meeting their personal and professional goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ceaira Tinsley)

Capt. John Appiah, 39th Air Base Wing chaplain, raises his hands toward the sky at Kapikaya Canyon during an outdoor recreation trip on May 25, 2019, in Adana, Turkey. Several resources are available to help Airmen decompress from stressors such as the Air Force’s Outdoor Recreation program, which gives military members and civilian employees a chance to experience Turkish culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

Capt. John Appiah, 39th Air Base Wing chaplain, raises his hands toward the sky at Kapikaya Canyon during an outdoor recreation trip on May 25, 2019, in Adana, Turkey. Several resources are available to help Airmen decompress from stressors such as the Air Force’s Outdoor Recreation program, which gives military members and civilian employees a chance to experience Turkish culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

Airmen assigned to Incirlik Air Base climb on a rock formation next to the Varda Bridge during an outdoor recreation trip on May 25, 2019, in Adana, Turkey. This was one of several outdoor recreation trips the 39th Force Support Squadron organized for Airmen to enjoy the local area while learning about Turkish culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

Airmen assigned to Incirlik Air Base climb on a rock formation next to the Varda Bridge during an outdoor recreation trip on May 25, 2019, in Adana, Turkey. This was one of several outdoor recreation trips the 39th Force Support Squadron organized for Airmen to enjoy the local area while learning about Turkish culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

An Airman performs a bicep curl during a strength and conditioning class at Larger than Life Fitness Center May 30, 2019, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. During their time at Incirlik, many Airmen focus on achieving their fitness goals, which can include becoming faster, stronger or more flexible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Wisher)

An Airman performs a bicep curl during a strength and conditioning class at Larger than Life Fitness Center May 30, 2019, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. During their time at Incirlik, many Airmen focus on achieving their fitness goals, which can include becoming faster, stronger or more flexible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Wisher)

Tech. Sgt. David Eash, 39th Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant, plays a guitar during a guitar class held May 29, 2019, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The base offers a variety of classes for Airmen interested in learning a new hobby such as guitar, cooking, painting and dance classes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor Rhynes)

Tech. Sgt. David Eash, 39th Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant, plays a guitar during a guitar class held May 29, 2019, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The base offers a variety of classes for Airmen interested in learning a new hobby such as guitar, cooking, painting and dance classes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor Rhynes)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --

I am sure lots of you are thinking that I am crazy as I say this assignment is an opportunity for you. Yes, I know you are far away from your family and friends; this can be really hard and sometimes it feels impossible, but please know you are here for your mission and we are really appreciative of your service and the sacrifices you make for us. Thanks to each and every one of you though, our families, kids and friends are safe.

I hope knowing you keep people safe is a reason you can be happy about being here and something you can be proud of.

However, you have to stay here at least one year and you cannot change this situation, so why not make the most of it? 

Don’t make yourself unhappy because of a situation you cannot change.  Try to find some enjoyment and benefit from it.

Your family and friends are far away from here, but you know that they are healthy and safe. Thanks to technology, you can see and talk with them every day.  So, take a deep breath, smile and focus on yourself.

You will have time to read books to improve yourself.  I know some of you are saying that you hate reading and that’s alright. It is not the end of the world. Although reading is one of the best therapies, I will not force you to read.  Instead of reading, try watching movies that can touch your life.

You can learn how to cook Turkish food. There are opportunities to have these kinds of courses here and when you are back home, you can cook for your family. Turkish foods are really delicious. In my opinion, everyone should learn how to cook at least one Turkish dish.  In the future, you can start your story saying, “When I was in Turkey, I learned how to cook.” You can teach this one dish to another person, who does not have a chance to come here to share your time with them as well.

You can learn the ‘’TURKISH’’ language.  I encourage you to try and learn at least 20 short sentences and 50 words in Turkish.  It is an easy language to learn and the best part is all you have to do is decide to learn. 

Another benefit of being here is having more time to get and stay fit.  You have more free time to go to the GYM.

Of course, there are a lot of opportunities to socialize and meet new people.

You can have even become friends with local nationals.  In my humble opinion, we are so helpful and friendly. Making new friends are always important because whenever you are planning a vacation, you’ll always have friends all over the world.

Whether you take my advice or not, know that you are the CEO of your life. You are the only one who can develop, evaluate and control your life.  Please do not forget it and do not give anyone permission to have this role in your life.  This is your life not theirs.

Life is too short to complain and cry.

Always try to be positive and find the good in everything.

You will never have this year again so make it count.

Please do not forget that you are the first priority in your life.

There are a lot options to choose in your life, but you should choose happiness.

Just choose happiness.