I remember when I first decided to join. There were so many things I had to accomplish before taking the oath and signing on the line (okay, there were MANY lines) of a contract with the American people. Yes, it is a contract. With Americans. A contract that says that I will do everything in my power to protect the freedoms that they have become accustomed to in the great country we were lucky enough to live in, even to the point of death.
The first steps were emotional ones, introspective ones. Can I do this? At 40? Can I survive Basic Training? If I do survive, can I live with someone telling me how to live every minute of my day and sometimes my night? Can I wrap my head around all these requirements to fulfill my duties?
The answers started coming when I changed my eating habits, joined some kickboxing classes, boxing classes, and started all the physical aspects of preparing for training. My body adjusted as I grew more fit and my mind grew more clear as the time moved on and I got closer to my "ship" date. My body and mind became determined, focused, and my self confidence improved.
After graduating from Basic Training, I realized that the self confidence I thought I had before didn't even compare to the woman I had now become. My friends saw the difference and told me that the Army was the best thing that had happened to me emotionally. And the body I got wasn't so bad either. It felt good to feel and look better than I had since I was a young woman. Everything I was able to accomplish made me realize that there was nothing that I couldn't do. When I thought I just couldn't take one more step, I found that, yes, I really could.
I had gained self respect as well. I spent a lot of time in my own head. Hours of rucking, standing in formation, endless hours of no talking; all contributed to a new self awareness. Every time I accomplished something, even physically, it took an emotional leap, a respect for myself and my abilities. Abilities I might not yet know I had.
That self confidence and self respect led to a new contentment with the person I was becoming. The anger that I had always held close dissipated. My priorities shifted and I took on the task of being a Soldier. As I learned my warrior tasks and drills, I found that the importance of what I do overshadows all the bullshit that accompanies any corporate type job and any feelings of boredom are quickly displaced with more training. There is always training!
I have been given so much by assuming my role in history as a Soldier. It isn't always ideal and there are issues I still deal with by being an older woman in the military full of the young and inexperienced, but overall, I have to say I have gotten far more out of the Army than I have been able to give in return.
So far. I plan on giving for a while yet.