The Ten Year Paradox

Not knowing anything about me at all, many people see me in uniform and in an attempt to strike up a conversation, they ask me “So, how long have you been in?”

My inability to make bullshit up forces me to blurt out the truth: “Nearly ten years.” I say.

The automatic response is always the same “Whoooooa! Halfway there!”

I try to explain that I am separating and I am met with a barrage of questions:

“What? Why would you get out? You only have ten more years!”

Here’s the problem with that: I’ve already done ten years and am unsatisfied with this lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not one of the ones that joined for the college money or for the benefits. I genuinely wanted to serve my country; something that I am starting to realize more and more is actually kind of rare.

If we were in an active maritime war, I would drop everything and deploy in a heartbeat.

But we are not. I understand that in the big picture, our missions are valuable. But my (and most sea-going Sailors’) day to day life consists of eating, sleeping, standing watch, doing maintenance, and sweeping a lot of P-ways.

That is, when we are not in a training cycle.

If we’re preparing for a big inspection (or, really, any inspection) we have equipment demonstrations, cleaning spaces that haven’t been cleaned in years, General Quarters drills, and all of the admin stuff that goes along with it.

It hardly feels worth it to be away from my family for so long that my daughter doesn’t know who I am except that I am Anger and Sadness personified.

So can I do this for another ten years? Sure. Absolutely.

But is it worth it for my own child not to know me because I am working until 0200, under the guise that I am “taking care of my Sailors” or “taking pride in ownership” of my equipment/programs?

Doubtful.

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