This is me, 13 years old, unfiltered and unedited. Un-plucked eyebrows, no fashion sense, equipped with an unbridled idea of adventure. It is probably one of the most embarrassing photos I still have of myself and yes I am totally using it for my pilot blog post. Why? Because this was me when I didn’t care about tan lines, makeup, or boys. It was before I worried about which degree I would choose in college or about the size of my waistline. My thoughts were my own, unadulterated by teachers or peers. I was perfectly comfortable with my dog as a companion reading books in the orchards for hours on end. When I envisioned my future I dreamt of traveling all over the world, learning a new language, and owning a large piece of land.
Somehow my ideas got convoluted along the way. I compromised my morals and values to be friends with people who had no loyalty towards me and to feel like I belonged somewhere. The thing is I didn’t belong in the places I was or with the people I surrounded myself with. I had gotten so far away from who I was fundamentally that I got swept up in the societal pressures to conform. But I won’t dwell on the past too much. The past is a place to revisit briefly in order to draw upon wisdom to make better decisions for the future.
It took me a few years but I’m proud to say that I’m back on track pursuing the life I always wanted for myself. I have rooted my decisions in my morals and values, uncompromising only to a very well supported argument with a healthy blend of pathos, ethos, and logos. I’m living a minimalist healthy lifestyle, I’ve built a network of positive hardworking individuals, and I put my dreams into action by traveling to Asia…twice. In fact, I’m writing this post from my guesthouse in Cambodia. You would think that with all of that I would be perfectly happy. It was only six months ago I realized I still wasn’t.
The problem was, I was still working too much for too little, and spending time in classes that didn’t interest me or weren’t applicable to my future. I was putting so much energy into work and school and everyday responsibilities and friends and family and you get the point. Everything was stable but nothing was flourishing. I was getting average results and feeling average about myself because I wasn’t able to invest my energy into anything that was getting me closer to my goals. I was doing what everyone told me I should do and it was getting me nowhere.
I needed something to change or I would be stuck in perpetual misery. There was no light bulb moment or action packed story I can tell you that lead me to enlist in the Navy. It was as simple as indulging my curiosity, the rest came naturally. Research got my butt in a chair across from an Air Force recruiter. It didn’t feel right so the next week I met with a Marine recruiter. Almost, but not quite. Still my curiosity ached. I set an appointment to meet with a Navy recruiter. I remember when I walked into the office there was a world map to my left and an American flag to my right. No one in that office tried to sell me the Navy. I spent two hours simply discussing life in the Navy and all the cool places they had been. I left for my first trip to Asia a couple of weeks later. An entire month spent making my way through Japan and China was all the time I needed to evaluate my options. I came home more sure than ever that I wanted to enlist.
It took me three trips to San Jose from Santa Rosa to even qualify as a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive (linguist). I scored a 96 on my ASVAB and cleared my medical, so I was able to request CTI as my job at MEPS. A minimum score of 100 is needed on the DLAB to qualify for Category IV languages and I managed 117. The military loves statistics and acronyms, but I’ll explain all that in future posts. After all the testing and paperwork I still had to wait an agonizing amount of time to get the official news I was set to be a Navy linguist! It won’t be official until after boot camp, but each mile stone accomplished feels absolutely amazing.
My official ship date is July 2nd of this year so of course “life resumes as normal” in the Deferred Enlistment Program. Most people spend their time getting in shape and studying the Sailor’s Creed. Me? I went back to Asia to have the time of my life and learn a lot about the world. So here I am, sitting in my guesthouse in Cambodia, thinking about how funny life is.
I’ve changed a lot in my 25 years. My eyebrows are plucked, I like to think I have fashion sense, and boys? Well boys come and go but friends are forever. A college degree doesn’t define my intelligence and my waistline doesn’t determine my self-worth. My sense of adventure is unbridled but equipped with the kind of wisdom that only comes from taking risks and making mistakes, lots of them. And yet, I feel closer to the girl I used to be more than ever.
What got me back to being my unedited, unfiltered self? I’ve stopped seeking validation from others. I live for my own validation from the things I accomplish and the passions I embrace.
And so my life truly begins. Let’s see how it unfolds.