Why I’m choosing to leave the Military: A few reasons I’m saying goodbye to the U.S. Navy.

It’s not an easy decision to leave the military, most people will admit that is true. The military affords young Americans to travel the world and reap the benefits of having all means to life paid for. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I paid for anything outside of what I wanted, not what I needed. However, there are a few tell tales signs for me that screamed I was ready to move on and take on other challenges.

A look back

When I chose to join the Navy I was 19 and it was almost on whim. I remember driving down the road in my 2004 Saturn Ion contemplating what the hell I was going to do with my life. I was enrolled full-time at a community college, working full-time as a manager at Wal-Mart unsure of my future and direction. I was working extremely hard and barely keeping my head above water. I was doing everything I could to bolster my resume in media communications but it never felt like it would be enough for an employer to see me as an asset to their company. My friend had just joined the National Guard and I thought why not me? I could do something like that, and so I did. I went to the recruiting office that day and started the process of enlisting, no warning, minimal thinking and a whole lot of courage. I became addicted, finally I had some sort of direction even though I knew I wasn’t going to do it forever. I finally had a trajectory in some crazy direction.

1. When the military is holding you back

My first few years in the Navy were amazing, I got lucky enough to be stationed overseas in Sicily and was able to grow not only as a sailor but as a person. I was able to express myself creatively, socialize with people from all over the country and hone in public speaking and instructor skills. I became fully immersed in the military lifestyle and was drinking the cool-aid as they say. However, when I left Sicily and moved on to my next position I wasn’t able to grow as much. I gained more training so I was pigeon hold into a position I couldn’t wiggle out from. I wasn’t able to explore more avenues or try a different aspect of my job. My current position was longer hours, more work and less recognition despite my large output.

One of my supervisors once told me that i was like a 12-year-old who got boobs too early in high school, in regards to my quick progression in the Navy. I got promoted years ahead of people in my job, I had years of education and I was working independently outside of my job scope. I set specific goals for myself when I first enlisted, and I achieved every single one of them. Now that’s not to boast, but I am very proud of everything I have accomplished. However, when I did accomplish it all, there was this odd empty space in my future. I knew I didn’t want to stay here and more military related goals sounded unappealing to me. If I don’t want to develop more in the service, than I need to find a new avenue.

When a job, military or not, is holding you back from developing yourself as a worker and as a person, it’s time to leave.

2. Independence

If you join the military at a young age you never really know what it’s like to be independent. The moment I left Mom and Dad for the Navy, I got another Mom and Dad…. only this time I couldn’t leave home…for 5–8 years. This thirst for exploration and expansion in my life has been hard for me to deal with. I always have someone telling me where I can go, what I can do, what I can wear, how I have to wear it, how long I can be gone, and what color I can have my hair. Although all this may sound trivial it becomes the biggest deal in the world when it comes time to re-enlist.

3. Leadership

I have had some amazing leaders and supervisors in my 5 1/2 years in the military. People who have seen real war time and don’t have the capacity to play political games or stay behind the red tape. However, at my current place of work these people do not exist. Instead the leadership I have known has been replaced with people who either care too much about the status quo, or don’t care at all. Less attention is focused on developing young sailors into well rounded people, and more focus is aimed at avoiding controversy. I would speak my mind on the unethical behaviors of my leadership, yet nothing was done. I became a trouble maker because I had the courage to speak for the people who felt they had no voice. This constantly happened, and I saw many people come out of my department discouraged, lost and demotivated because of it. When my voice no longer spurs action or falls on deaf ears, what is my purpose as a leader then? There isn’t one. I’m tired of feeling like I have no voice, so I’m going to find something that lets me regain it. People always remark on this saying “It’s going to be like this everywhere you go”. I’m sure in some places that true, but I dare not take advice from someone whose hasn’t seen “civilian life” in 20 years. Even so, I want my voice to be valued. I’m not saying I’m always right, or that when I do speak up its always justified to the masses. But when the situation is clearly wrong, unethical and unjust, there is no reason I should be silenced.

4. I want a new adventure

The last and biggest reason why I am getting out of the military is because I want a new adventure. From my time working with patients, I realized that life is too short to not be doing what you love. I need to find that before I spend any more time in the same job that doesn’t give me as much fulfillment or happiness. I want to wake up and go to work excited and ready to take on whatever task is in front of me. I want to travel the country side, or maybe start a new business. I’m young, ambitious and full of ideas, life is too short to not explore them. To some it sounds frivolous, but maybe that’s because they are too frightened to do the same thing.

“In our lives, change is unavoidable, loss is unavoidable. In the adaptability and ease with which we experience change, lies our happiness and freedom.Buddha