No one in my family was in the military (aside from my father's long-ago stint in WWII). All my college friends either had "real" jobs or were on their way to having same. I felt like a failure: college degree but no job, in debt, no real purpose or goals. What the hell was I doing on this plane?
All I knew was that I had to do something.
|My favorite poster EVER|
But most importantly, I was given the type of experiences that middle class suburbia and the rarefied atmosphere of an Ivy League college could not have provided at that time: living and working with people of color, working under both women and people of color (this was the 1980's, remember), learning about the world of the military and the people who inhabited it, learning about the world of government (I happen to have been stationed at a gov't agency).
Oh, yeah, and I also met Larry. You know, my spouse of 26 years and the father of our 6 kids?
All because I did something.
I look back on that day and feel proud of my scared, unsure, directionless younger self. And I pass that lesson on to my adult and soon-to-be-adult kids: no matter what, do something. Experience beats sitting around. No matter what you do, good or bad, you take away something from it. And all those little somethings mount up to build a life.
Of course, we know how that goes - they probably won't listen to me, because I'm their mother and what the heck do I know, anyway? But that doesn't matter, really, because that doesn't change the past 3 decades. I'll always have Florida.
[Navy poster image: Wikimedia]