Motives for Enlistment Part I: Matters of the Mind

“Netflix and chill reduces the patriarchal bias inherent in traditional dating culture. In other words, it removes the pressures and sexpextations that are typically present in the hetero-normative dating culture.”

These are words that I said, in front of about 300 people who included my dad. I had never spoken in front of that many people before, but they were all there to listen to the SRJC Forensics Team discuss the pros and cons of ‘Netflix and Chill’ amongst other events. It was a loaded topic. I was nervous as hell, even shaking a little, but as I stared out at the audience I saw them, my dad especially, actively listening to me. That was a moment in my life that I will never forget.

Speech and debate had created a small platform for me, but a platform nonetheless. It gave me power and a voice to be heard where I felt I had none in any other aspect of my life. The endless research gave me the knowledge I could assert myself with. The countless debates fine-tuned the critical thinking needed for a better grasp of the interworkings of the world around me. The quick witted rhetoric equipped me with the ability to articulate just about anything to anyone. I was beginning to find myself in conversations I previously had ‘no place’ in, whether I was allowed in or pushed my way in, that detail didn’t matter to me. I began to experience the world in a way I never had before; a world without obstacles.

Up until this point I had struggled to figure out what it was that I wanted to do with my life. It always seemed like you had to pick one specific career path, just one. Through competing in speech and debate, a lot of doors began to open for me. Not because those doors weren’t there before, it was because I began to see myself achieve bigger things than I thought that I could initially. There were almost too many options. Which college would I transfer to? What if I went to law school? I could be a lawyer, a politician…both! Through speech and debate, I began to see that life has so much more to offer and you never have to let yourself be defined by just one thing.

The problem, it now seemed, wasn’t in what I would do with my life, it was how I would get there. The reality that I would have to take out a student loan was becoming ever surmounting. Having very little credit established, that loan was looking mighty ugly, especially if I decided on law school. Then there was the reality that I had at least a decade of experience to acquire after my degree just to prove myself capable of my dream job. If I also wanted to travel while pursuing higher education, that would be an entire box of privilege that ain’t nobody got time to dig through. Actively seeking higher education in America began to feel more and more like some form of masochism. Why should I struggle unneccessarily if I didn’t have to?

The truth of the matter of my joining the Navy is that I was not stuck and I was not without options. The truth of the matter, was that I wanted to get on with my life. For some that means starting a family, for others that means starting a business or dropping everything to teach English in a foreign country. What all of these things have in common, are individuals actively doing something they feel passionate about. I had already provided myself everything that I needed and wanted, a college education, traveling abroad, and career opportunities. But I wasn’t able to actively contribute to these things, to invest the entirety of my being into my interests. Patience is a virtue but my life was moving at a snail’s pace. The Navy would be the catalyst to get me the platform and resources that I needed to achieve the goals I envisioned for myself.

It seemed I was facing a most blatant fork in my path of life. Both options got me the exact same end pursuit tangibly, the difference was how I would see myself by the end of it. Down one path I knew exactly what to expect, but I was going down the other blind. I was comfortable right where I was and to change that would mean I had to give up a lot of my daily comforts. Only a crazy person would do that right?! But one factor that intimidated me the most was that one path was almost sure success, yet the other was a great chance of failure. There was more mounting against me by joining the Navy than there was in any other aspect of my life. I knew that by joining the Navy I would be trying to accomplish one of the hardest things in my life. With all of this in mind I was finding it really difficult to choose if I should finish college to pursue a career the way I always anticipated or if I should face adversity by pursuing a career in the Navy. For most the answer is quite obvious.

The solution for me, as corny as it may be, was to follow my heart.

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