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Lost and Found

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2024) Permanent link   All Posts
Cole Fulton

Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.

A few hours ago, I was cleaning up my camera roll when I saw a screenshot of this quote. You know those Pinterest-like posts that have a cheesy background with a fortune cookie quote...yes, it was one of those. But the strangest part was that I had no recollection of saving it. As I stared at the quote for a while, confused at where it had come from, I began to realize how much it was tailored to my current situation.

I spent a lot of time digging deep to find my goals and ambitions for the future during quarantine (March-June), often coming up empty handed: this vacancy scared me. And, to make matters worse, life doesn't stop to let you figure things out. Before I knew it, summer was knocking on my door, practically dragging me out of the comforts of my home. Despite not knowing what my goals were, I had an idea of what I wanted them to be; and the best place to achieve those goals were at USCGA. But the Academy wasn't an option due to a medical disqualification. I began to feel helpless with nowhere to go. Though it's during times like these that you really find yourself... and that "finding" came in the form of a notification of my medical waiver being approved.

Those who say otherwise are bluffing (or are just extremely squared away). But what made it particularly difficult for me was finding that purpose, that reason to endure it all. With the rough waves of academic, athletic, and military obligations -- especially as a 4/c -- it can be easy to lose yourself in this vast sea. But just like I had discovered during quarantine, it's times when you feel lost that you truly find yourself. These hardships forced me to get out of my comfort zone and really apply myself. I began seriously prioritizing my schedule to account for homework, basketball, military responsibilities, and my personal well-being. I also began utilizing the connections here at the Academy by asking upperclassman for advice and talking to officers about their careers. Soon, I found myself enjoying each day more and more (yes, that includes those days with 0530 morning practices).

Blinking out of a trance, I realized I was still looking at my phone. It was a cheesy quote for sure, but a relatable one nonetheless. My thumb, hovering over the delete button, darted away and quickly resaved the image -- returning it to the labyrinth of my camera roll -- only to be rediscovered when needed the most.

On a long collection of reasons why I decided to come to the Coast Guard Academy, finding myself was one of them...that's one item checked off my list.