Did you plan out your life as you approached your high school graduation? Did you know what you wanted to do then? Was it to go to college and prepare for a career? Or go to school abroad to get away from home? Did you go and get a job? Or travel to experience new cultures?
Maybe you were just excited to move out of the house and enjoy some freedom. Or did you take some college classes while you hoped to eventually figure out what to do with you life?
As I got close to graduation, none of those options seemed right for me. I didn’t have any answers. There was a turning point in my life not long after I lost one of my best friends in a tragic car accident when I was 14. I became despondent and no longer cared much about school or academics. I quickly went from a gifted honor student to a rebellious punk with an attitude.
If it wasn’t for being ahead in school credits I may have not even graduated, because during my senior year skipping classes became the norm. I remember a meeting with my parents and the principal. I had more absences than attendance!
Military recruiters seem to have a knack for finding kids like me. I was lost in life direction but was a highly intense and energetic kid. I wanted to be a part of something great and have something to hope for. I was physically fit and scored 94% on the ASVAB Test. I even got 2 of my friends to join with me. The recruiters loved it. I was their ideal recruit!
After visiting with recruiters from different military branches I decided on the Marines cause they’re the best. With my test results I could’ve almost any military vocation I wanted, and I decided to join the infantry cause it was the toughest. And since I wanted to go all out, I went active duty. My recruiters promised to get me into a good unit, which they did – The 1st Marines. After some more assessment tests I was assigned to a Boat Raider Unit.
When I made my decision I shared the news with my mom. Coming from a country where military service is mandatory and viewed honorably, my mom was initially happy. She spoke of how great it would be for discipline and to learn some occupational skills for the future. Surprised by her support, I told her I was joining the infantry. Then she flipped out and started yelling at me!
Since I was only 17 and still a minor, my parents had to sign for me to join. She had to be convinced into signing me up for the infantry so my recruiter came over so sell her on it. At this point in my life, my relationship with my parents was at its worst. So the only way to keep any relationship with me was to support me. They couldn’t influence me or tell me what to do cause I was so stubborn and rebellious. That night my parents signed my life away and I officially became property of the United States Government.
Joining the Marines was a way for me to test myself as well as express my inner aggression and anger. But in actuality I was searching for a way to escape my life in a valiant attempt to end my misery. Instead, the inner dragons I tried to run from came hunting after me and I was forced to face my demons.