What the Army Taught Me

Art work poking fun at the Army.
Art work poking fun at the Army.

I was talking to one of my good friends, whom I met in the Army about 9 or 10 years ago. She and I were discussing our military lives, civilian lives, and our civilian careers. While talking about work, I was telling her about decision-making skills I learned in the Army that I transition into my civilian life and how I was surprised how the military really has more of an effect on my life than I give it credit for.

Most people that know me would consider me to be a “nice” person. I try to maintain a positive attitude, I smile a lot, and I’m very friendly…however on the flip side of that I can be very loud, angry, unapologetic, and sometimes unsympathetic–but only when I’m provoked. Now, I am not saying that the Army taught me to have the negative qualities…but I will say that they helped me bring them out when it was necessary.

What I learned about my personality. I joined the Army when I was 17. Being in the military helped break me out of my bookish shell. I talked more, I spoke up more…even though my default mode would always go back to “watching and observing” rather than speaking. The Army taught me about leading others; in military schools I learned the right way to lead. In real life (at the training centers) I learned the wrong way to lead. It helped me decide what kind of leader I wanted to be when given the chance. I was taught to take action and work hard.

During a training exercise (2009), I was the gunner.
During a training exercise (2009), I was the gunner.

What I learned about organization. I spent the first 4 years of my military career in college. I learned how to plan ahead; I learned how to schedule my life up to 4 months (or more) in advance. I learned how to treat tasks as missions and how to plan backwards with my timing in order to make sure I completed my “mission”. I learned that things will not always go according to plan- always have a back up plan. I learned how to be organized and extremely tidy- I think the Army gave me OCD. I learned that just because a test is open book doesn’t mean you don’t need to study.

On a mission in Iraq. Don't remember what I was staring at.
On a mission in Iraq. Don’t remember what I was staring at.

What I learned about other people. I learned how to work with different types of people and that there are some crappy people in the world. I learned that you can be taught anything from anyone, no matter their age, race, gender, or place of birth, and the lesson can be good or bad. I learned that you can build an awesome bond with people who will literally do anything for you and that some relationships will eventually run their course- if its time to let them go…let them go. I learned how to drink like a fish and cuss like a sailor; and when you’re 22 and full of energy, you don’t necessarily need sleep.

Our flight was cancelled. Heading back to the barracks
Our flight was cancelled. Heading back to the barracks

What I learned about life. I learned how to get over my fear of flying, being yelled at, and dying…but not snakes or spiders. I still don’t like those. I learned that ish happens, so embrace the suck and drive on because complaining and feeling sorry for yourself accomplishes nothing. I learned a lot about men…but I don’t want to get into that right now. I learned to stop being so sensitive, how put someone in a proper headlock, and as Americans we take so many things for granted like electricity and indoor plumbing. I learned that no matter how good of a person you are and how nice you are to people that there will be someone out there who absolutely cannot stand you, whether you know about it or not, so always do your best because there are people who are wishing for your downfall. Sometimes they disguise themselves as your “friends”. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

Some of my stuff.
Some of my stuff.

As I was writing this, with each sentence I thought about a specific person or situation to which it applies. I am sure Lorenzo has his own stories that he probably won’t share; every individual experience is different. I feel that that because of all these things, and just getting older in general, I have a very low tolerance for foolishness, shenanigans, drama queens, and cry babies. This is probably why I’m not a fan of reality TV shows. Oh well, that’s another story.

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There's a lot going on in my head and sometimes I write it down.

3 thoughts on “What the Army Taught Me”

  1. You are so right on all of these points.

    I tell Tim all the time, he should be (and is for the most part) grateful for the education the Army gave him. He’s an amazing leader, he just needed someone to refine it.

    Even though I didn’t serve I’m still grateful for the Army as well. I’ve met some amazing people (you being one of them), got to be a part of some amazing experiences, and found a passion for speaking up for our veteran.

    1. I feel the same way about you & Tim. 🙂 I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t joined. I’ve gained so much confidence in myself that I never knew I had. I just told a recruiter for a job I recently interviewed for that it was one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life so far- even with the ups and downs. I might do a Part II in a few weeks, there was so much more that I wanted to add.

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