So here I am, 25 years old... I have no idea how I've survived up to this point. I've been in the military for seven years, I've been deployed to the Persian Gulf, I've spent two years of my natural life on the ocean and plan on dedicating many more years to the art of floating aimlessly while performing some critical operation. All of this and I'm still just a boy in a man's body.
When someone asks me what I do, I tell them and they stare at me in awe. "Blibbity blah blah multi-million dollar aircraft components blibbity blah War on Terror blah blah deployments blah blah blah United States Navy." I guess I've become desensitized to the fact that I'm part of a machine that is the most powerful physical force in the world. None of this seems to impress me anymore and the things I've had and have to do at work are just that: things.
Compliments from strangers, free beers, family bragging about me to everyone who will listen, etc. I suppose everyone in the military gets this though. I'm definitely proud of my job and my accomplishments in that job, but what about life itself? What about outside of work? Well, I'll tell you.
I'm part of a Lost Generation of Man-Children. We 'grew up' and joined the military for all sorts of different reasons. We were forced into a lifestyle that not too many people could handle (a lot don't and find themselves sent home earlier than expected) and given a responsibility that we sometimes take too lightly because the true gravity of it would tie our stomachs in knots. We think because we go to war and play with guns and operate really cool, expensive shit that we're "grown-ass men" as so many coworkers delicately put it.
What do most of us do after that? We get married. Some of us have kids. Most of us do both. Why is that? I've been married twice and as much as I swore I was ready (both times), I can see now that I was nowhere close. I'm still a child. I can't manage my money, I play too many video games, and I still think that cartoons and cold pizza are the best possible way to start off a Saturday afternoon when I wake up. I can barely take care of myself and I thought I could take care of a family? Clearly I was out of my mind.
I was also under the assumption that having what is arguably the dumbest and most destructive job in the world would help my marriages be successful. Boy was I wrong. We expect our wives to pick up and move to WTFEUSSM: Where the Fuck Ever Uncle Sam Sends Me. We expect them to leave everything they've ever known and go to some strange place where they have no friends, no relatives, and no job, and just be happy as hell about it. Not only that, but they have to do all this and hang out alone for months at a time while we go out and play big boy games and risk the chance of coming home in a bodybag.
We expect our children to be okay with us never being around and being so mentally drained from the idiocracy that is the U.S. Military that when we are home, we don't have the energy to give them the proper amount of attention. And then when the inevitable divorce happens, and believe me it does, we hope that they turn out alright growing up in a broken home.
All of this because most of us joined a warfighting organization (some before they could even buy a lottery ticket legally) way too young and as much as we've "matured" in our careers, we're still the same idiot kids we were when we joined. Children raising children. Socially retarded. Not all, but most.
I may be able to effortlessly rattle off hours of nonsense about what I do at work when I'm asked, but if someone asks me how old I am, I pause. I know how old I am, but I sure don't feel that old. On one hand, I feel like I'm sixty. On the other hand, I feel like I'm twelve. Age is all relative in so many different areas of one's life, that it's absurd to measure a person's true age by the number of trips the Earth has made around the sun since they've been born. So how old am I? "I'm this many."