So where does this all put me? I’ve now been in the Coast Guard for roughly ten months, the whole time living at the Academy. For about ten months I’ve been a 4/c cadet: braced up, squaring, keeping my eyes in the boat, doing clocks, knowing indoc, taking out trash, cleaning the passageways, standing watch. So, the question for me is, “so what?” Honestly, I’m having trouble thinking of something to write. (That’s a new one for me!)
I can definitely say that 4/c year went by extremely quickly. It’s incredible to think that it’s over, and in a few short days (after graduation), I’ll be a 3/c cadet! I’ll have full carry on, and all the duties that once fell on me will now fall to the class of 2016. We won’t be the “little ones” anymore; we’re going to be the mentors, the ones that the 4/c look to for guidance and help. It’s exciting, that’s for sure.
It’s fun to think about what I was doing a year ago at this time. Last May I had just finished my AP exams, and with three weeks of school left, I was basically riding it easy (class-wise); I was also tying up loose ends and prepping my successors for the clubs that I ran. I was planning summer get-togethers with friends—those one-more-time-before-I-leave-for-the-summer/Academy meetings and coffee breaks and breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that seemed to keep popping up right up until I left for Swab Summer. I was planning a graduation party with two of my friends. I was hitting the gym harder, running farther and faster, and psyching myself up for the intense summer that lay ahead—less than 50 days to go! Wow, I was really excited for Swab Summer! It seemed like the Academy came up in every conversation (much to the annoyance of my friends, I’m sure). Every day I eagerly checked the mail for any new information—the packing list, the company assignments, the R-Day agenda—anything that would bring me one step closer to the Academy. I had never been so excited to go out and buy tube socks!
Perhaps what is giving me such an issue with this reflection is the fact that being a 4/c just kind of…ended. There was no big celebration, no culminating event. Basically one day I was at the Academy squaring, etc. and the next I was out in the fleet. My friends and classmates had been scattered across the country—there was not congratulating or cheering. Anticlimactic is probably the best word for it. I’m sure the excitement of seeing the new swabs/fourth class in August will be enough of a celebration—then we will officially, 100%, never-be-a-fourth-class-again, 3/c cadets!
One thing I learned about the Academy that I would not have been able to understand until I was actually there is that time moves so quickly there yet at the same time, it seems like ages have passed. Thinking back to first semester, or even the beginning of the second semester, the Academy seems so different. Again, this is hard to explain exactly what I mean, so I apologize for that.
As I hope you’ve been able to tell from my blogs, I have had a fantastic time over the past year. I can say—although it’s been said so many times before—that I’ve made many friends, learned loads of information, and had awesome opportunities. But my past year has to get more than that boring sentence. Of course, it is hard to put ten months’ worth of experiences into a few short words.
I also don’t have an overwhelming sense that I’ve changed (on the inside). Sure, maybe my parents and friends may see some changes, but I don’t feel like a new, different, or improved person. OK, so I now have more knowledge in areas I didn’t have before—specifically with regards to military customs and procedures—and I am more aware of certain actions (such as walking and talking on the cell phone or eating while wearing a hat). Yet there is still that “but…”. I just can’t place my finger on what follows that conjunction.
Swab Summer was a challenge, but I still had an unbelievably fun time! 4/c year was difficult, but I overcame the obstacles and managed to enjoy myself in the process. The past few months were certainly not all fun and games, but I am so pleased to be at the Academy. Not once have I second guessed my choice to come here (as opposed to a civilian college). Eh, so I had a few more parameters to follow than most college students, but my experiences this year—as well as the ones in my future—were (and are) absolutely worth giving up some of the “perks” of civilian college life.
With that I say so long. To the class of 2016, good luck! And to all the rest, have a great summer!
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