I graduated USMC boot camp on Oct 23, 1992 in Paris, SC. I was 19, dumb as a rock, and brainwashed into believing I wanted to kill other humans. I am not proud of who I was, but I am proud of who, even then, I wanted to be. I wanted to be someone who made a difference.
After 6 years in the reserves, it was clear my path to making a difference wasn't with the Marine Corps. I was much more a tree hugger and a nature lover. But the USMC had a profound effect on me, and I'm hopeful that it made me a better human.
Realizing that it's been 30 years since graduation knocked me off my feet. It threw me into a seldomly visited, deep, low pit of emotions. I'm old. My body is no longer a lean, mean, physical machine. I'm no longer a cutie patootie. What I am is an older woman. I'm not sure I could've prepared for this realization, but I certainly wasn't. I'm not where I want to be. I'm still working on who I want to be. I still don't feel good enough, accomplished enough, wealthy enough, smart enough, or lovable enough.
Graduating boot camp helped me to know that I can do hard things. Right now, waking up, going to work, putting on a brave face is hard work. I can, and I will do this, too. Once a Marine, always a Marine. This Marine is forever grateful to have gone through some of the best and worst times of my life with my fellow jar heads. Love you all. <3