Staring into the Abyss

Fear of the unknown can paralyze your military transition. Understanding why you feel this way will help you push through the uneasiness.

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“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” – Nietzsche

Many extremely brilliant military leaders fear the civilian sector, not thinking that their skills would transfer well.

It is the unknown.

The military can be all consuming. You make time for family and friends depending on geography, but only as much as the training calendar will allow.

If preparing for a CTC (NTC/JRTC) your weekends are not guaranteed, but there will be the 4-days and some block/opportunity leave.

You only have so much time off. What if you are set to deploy?

Looking at how much time you most likely will spend with your parents – how much longer will they live and how often do you see them? Take a look at the at the tail end and then think how you want to spend your time.

The world gets smaller as you go deeper into the American military sub culture. You drink the Kool-Aid and its delicious. The warrior mindset is intoxicating and the brotherhood is real.

Your brothers and sisters in arms are the closest people to you. You see them significantly more than your family and friends. They are your family.

Terms and phrases like “the other/dark” side are commonly used to discuss the civilian world. Some might find it hard to talk to civilians as time passes. Your tribe is very different from my tribe.

Join up right after high school or college: 17-23 years old. Your path leading up to that point had been completely laid out for you, grade after grade. Once you join the military it is much of the same. There is a definite path for you to take, with lockstep precision. You know with certainty exactly what you have to do in order to advance.

The longer you become more entrenched in the military subculture and is now a significant part of your identity.

The disconnect can be even more extreme while on deployment. Just watch the stateside news and see if anyone cares. Other AFN programming can be even more depressing.

But something is still driving you to leave. You being looking to the dark side. Seeing which way you could go. When you could go. If you could go.

You have some knowledge, but you cannot picture it. Much like when the stress of deployment first subsides once you have made it to your final destination, your FOB, COP, etc.

The weight lifts from your shoulders a bit as you set down your bags and know that you will do the two bag drag again soon.

But for now, we are okay.

I am here, it is no longer unknown.

Camp Liberty, Iraq

The same is true for your military transition. You will not get that same feeling until you have not only landed that position or been accepted to that school, but on your first day. Once you have set your bag down at your desk or in class.

Until then, its just the unknown.

“Man looks into the abyss, there is nothing staring back at him. At that moment man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss. – Lou Mannheim

This is it. This is the abyss. You can get help from others, but only you can walk the path.

It will take a leap of faith – faith in yourself.

If you are in a position of strength, have developed a plan for what your want to do, and have confidence in your ability to execute that plan. All that remains is to jump into the abyss. Not to find firm ground, but to make the void your home.

“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.” – Hunter S. Thompson

Do your best to prepare and execute violently.

You will only know when you try.

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