Thinking back, I remember from the young age of 12, I knew that one day I would serve my country. But at the age of 44, I now find myself not knowing what happens after. Life, after my country?
Im pleased to say, I did that. I dd it for 24-years and 42-weeks. I served with honor, integrity and pride. I served 2- different dimensions; one dimensions as an non-commissioned officer and one dimension as a commissioned officer. I did both and for that I am proud.
Aside from normal childhood dreams of being an entertainer, I didn’t think beyond singing and the military. Granted, I grew up long before the days of American Idol or Americas Got Talent so having a “Joe Jackson” or “Matthew Knowles” wasn’t an option especially since I didn’t have an active participative father in my life, at all. I didn’t even have Youtube which has been known to produce a few discovered talents. Needless to say, life forced me to neglect my dream of becoming a famous singer in this lifetime. I see it as “taking the road less traveled”. Realistically less then 1% of the population will serve or will attempt to serve.
However, luckily for me, the Army didn’t have as many talent shows or auditions that were requirements in order to “win”. Ironically, some would say that I have won despite everything else.
But, 18-months post retirement, armed with 2-steady incomes, a MA in Marriage & Family Counseling, and several credentials, here I sit, wondering what do I do next. Im only 44. I have ideas about what to do, but the way in which to do it doesn’t come easy.
You see, the military was a barrier as well as a lot of other things. If you didn’t succeed, you tried and tried again. I mean, it wasn’t cookie cutter clear, but we were aware of what needed to be done or what not to do if we wanted to have a lengthy successful career.
If you want to get promoted, “go above and beyond your peers” or “go to school to get the points to make the cut-off scores” or “submit a packet for warrant officer or officer candidate school” or “smile pretty for the board”
If you wanted a short career; drugs, being overweight, not being physically fit, or showing no progression towards the next rank would give you almost 100% guarantee the you would be exiting “stage-left” without a round of applause.
When there weren’t roadmaps or charts to tell you how to succeed, then find a person similar to you in terms of race, close in rank, gender, military skill and either a) do better then them or b) do like them or c) make them your mentor!
By the way, they threw in medical, dental, tuition assistance, 30-vacation days a year, plus 4-day and someone to watch over you from time to time.
I know, I know, we sacrifice greatly, to receive these things. Of course, thats a bigger, longer, more extensive, blog post at a later date. You get the jeesch!.
But, I ask the questions?
Who am I?
Out here in the real world, which surrounds the outside of the military barriers, theres no schedule, no road map, no “what to do” versus “what NOT to do”, no one that aligns with me that I can emulate, nor is there a person that’s constantly around that HAVE to watch over me from time to time, even when I don’t want them to. I now realize, I miss that.
Its just me, all me and no one else but me.
Im not even sure what time is considered a decent time to wake in the morning that I don’t appear to be a lazy slug!
In my mind anything after 6am is considered late and sleeping in!
The more and more I poise these questions, the more and more I think of new questions to follow. I talk to others who’ve served; again more questions are left unanswered.
With all the questions I have, it leads me to the biggest 2-questions of all; HOW MANY OTHER VETERANS FEEL THE SAME”? and HOW DO WE LEARN TO LIVE STRUCTURED IN AN UNSTRUCTURED WORLD?