When I was 19 I decided I was going to join the military. After a little bit of back and forth with my family, we decided that the Air Force was the best fit for me. Long story (about that) short, four months after I started talking to my recruiter, I was off to Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas for Basic Military Training. I will save all the intricate details about that for another time. For now, let’s talk about acceptance.
When I introduced to my family, my desire to join the military, I was met with mostly acceptance. I think that is something they always knew I would do; it was just a matter of finding the courage to actually do it. There were only a couple of people who were not very accepting (at first) of me joining the military. That was in 2003 and I was hard-headed and no one was going to talk me out of doing something I had made up my mind about. I was determined but I knew that if I did not go then I wouldn’t go. Maybe it was a rash decision, but it was my decision. Those couple of people did not mean ill to me or towards the military. In fact, when I talked about joining the military, that was just two years post-9/11. America had just been turned upside down in the worst terrorist attack on our soil. No one knew what was going to happen that year or the years to come. Back then I was a little offended that anyone would try to talk me out of joining the military or try to convince me it was a bad idea. Hindsight, though, I know it was for my protection. It was because of the fear of the unknown. It was because no one knew what was going to happen in the days, months, years to follow.
But no one was going to talk me out of doing what I wanted to do, rash decision or otherwise. I was adamant and the Air Force had me sold on free education, medical/dental benefits, travel, the list goes on and on. Here I am eleven and a half years, seven duty locations, two different jobs, and a number of friends, acquaintances, supervisors, not-so friends later. I can guarantee you that if I were to go to those people who were leery at first and ask them how they felt NOW about me being in the military, their minds would be completely changed.
Why am I going on and on about my life and choices and acceptance and a (nearly) twelve year history? Because. Because I feel like people should have a right. A right to choose what they want to do with their lives. A right to pick their own career path without feeling guilty. I do not think anyone should be made to feel regretful about something they want to do. When considering what we want to do with our lives, we sometimes have to be a little selfish, I guess. We have to think about what will make us happy in the end. If we have a family, how will that choice affect our family.
When we grow up and move out of our homes we grew up in, life changes. Circumstances change. Therefore our plans for our life might change. But in the end, it is our choice and our choice alone. I think people – family, friends, and otherwise should be more accepting of that.
If you are reading this and you are getting resistance on something you want, I would like to encourage you to do what makes you happy. Whatever that may be. Sometimes explaining your stance works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you just have to take a chance and do what you want, even if it is not what someone else wants.