Last year (fourth class year) and through the summer, I struggled to come to terms with the fact that I am an adult—and one that is practically living “independently” (as in, not relying on my parents for much of anything). I felt as if time had stopped and I had stopped growing up at 17.5 years (middle of my senior year). Academics last year seemed strikingly like high school, and this summer felt oddly like a giant, regimented summer camp. Honestly, I was frustrated that I didn’t feel older, more mature. Until I returned to the Academy in the middle of August for the start of classes.
A number of factors contributed to my new sense of adulthood. First there was a new class below mine; we were no longer the “little ones.” Instead we are now the ones looking out for the fourth class. In addition, there are greater responsibilities placed on the third class (3/c)—such as being in charge of a day of watch (duty).
Academics also played a role in my perception change. This year I am taking more major-specific classes. While my course schedule has always been slightly different than my peers’ (as a result of the five classes validated [tested-out of]), this year everyone is taking classes in their major. There is a more diversified range of classes among my classmates; it no longer feels as if we are too young to pick our own classes, so they (the mysterious “they”) assign us all the same course load. But back to my major, Marine and Environmental Science (MES), the simple fact that I am taking classes to develop myself as a marine and environmental scientist astonishes me. I’m working toward being something—somebody—I will be for the rest of my life/professional career. I had this epiphany the other night as I was working on a detailed lab report about a local estuary; that made me feel like a college student.
And finally, I’ve taken on leadership roles in my extracurricular activities, too, which has required me to embrace a higher level of responsibility. I am a media specialist (as I call myself) for both Officers’ Christian Fellowship and the Sustainability Club (check out the video I made to promote the club: www.uscga.edu/campus.aspx?id=678 under ‘Videos’ on lower right hand side of the page). I attend the leadership meetings for OCF and make decisions about the Sustainability Club with the two other presidents and the advisers of the club.
I would say that all that time I thought had stopped has caught up with me, which required me to grow up quickly—or at least feel more grown up practically overnight. Sure, I’m still the spastic teenager (I’m still only 19) who likes jumping up and down to loud music and running around trying to lift others’ spirits by doing crazy things (like writing pop song parodies about classes or being a 4/c cadet), but when I step back and assess my life, comparing it to who I was a year ago, I feel more mature. But that’s just me…
More about Justin.