Hooyah, Mission Accomplished!
Of course, before anything can be implemented, it must be practiced and engrained, so we gained an opportunity for this with Recruit Training Boot Camp. I would be experiencing nine days of midsummer “core value” training at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. As soon as I completed my check-in, I was getting shouted at, orders were being demanded of me, and soon realized that I had just entered the Gates of Hell Day 1. I have never really been too fond of people screaming in my face. Only thinking of talking or looking anywhere but straight would have probably sent a storm my way. None of that was settling well in my mind. For the first couple of days, I spent all my free time contemplating a method of escape. An epic battle between the “Man-Up-and-Pull-Through” battalion and the “I’m-Done-Leave-Now” squad would take place in my brain each day. It proved to become a common theme in my room with all cadets complaining about the same treatment.
We somehow all decided to stick it out and see what this place had to offer. Nevertheless, disciplining myself to listen to my superiors who were my age and marching six hours a day while trying to realize how to mentally survive the remaining days did not come as easily as I thought they would.
Then something happened. It switched my attitude from coping with pressure or fear to finding my true motivation for being there.
During our first physical training test, we had to run a mile fully loaded by heavy equipment, and some of us were not as physically fit as others. Midway to the finish line, one of my buddies started crying from the pain he was going through. I decided to slow down and give him some encouragement and continued to stay by his side the whole way through. When we all crossed that dreaded finish line I knew that something big changed for me, and I became a part of something bigger than myself. It was a turning point in my mindset and maturity. This quest to “Hell” and back had a higher purpose. It was not to get yelled at or to “do everything right.” It was to give everyone’s mind a clean slate to realize that whatever place we come from, we can always find together the power to rebuild strong ties, to treat everyone as a big family. For us to see our own supportive nature, all boundaries had to fall.
Days seemed to pass differently from that point on. At the end of each day, we would discuss what had happened throughout the day, would share laughs, and tell each other more about ourselves. We gradually developed a strong sense of camaraderie that lasted beyond that training period.
Getting back home from the camp, I was thinking of that first day with Sea Cadets and of that strange sounding assignment. When I finally crossed the threshold of my home, it dawned on me: Hooyah, mission accomplished!