The OCS Experience- Pt. 2

Well folks, this is my final post about OCS and my experiences with the Marine Corps. Not surprisingly, writing these (and the conversations that result) bring a great amount of closure…I’m ready to end this chapter of my life. Here’s a continuation of “The OCS Experience- Pt.1,” more orientated to the highs, lows, and  lessons learned.

Roses: things that I loved about OCS

  • The feeling that came with the completion of a task or mission that originally seemed impossible is addicting! I felt like I reached a new level almost everyday whether it was a combat skill, PT, overcoming a fear or even just putting my boots on in the allotted 30 seconds. Honestly though, watching your friends succeed and overcome is an even better feeling.
  • In my platoon, we had several staff members who went out of their way to take advantage of teachable moments. Knowing that they believed in you (even if they screamed at you constantly)was a very encouraging reminder on the worst of days.
  • Every day at 0800 and 2000, the colors play as the flag is raised/lowered. There’s no movement and no noise–everyone is still and saluting. It gives me goosebumps just to think about what the colors represents and its significance.
  • After we hygiened at night, we got mail! You just stand at the end of your rack, hoping and praying that your name was called. Something about getting mail–no matter who it’s from–is the most encouraging and motivating event. I am so thankful that almost everyday I got at least 1 letter!

Thorns: things I hated about OCS

  • Not having any contact with friends or family for the first 3 weeks, or during the week. I completely underestimated how difficult it would be to go that long without talking to my sister or friends. At least twice I day I wished more than anything that I could pull out my phone and take a picture or send a quick text.
  • The words “I,” “me,” and “my” are absolutely off-limits, so everything is “this candidate,”she,” or “her.” This isn’t a difficult thing to do, but it’s hard to get in the habit and it’s straight-up annoying. [It’s pretty powerful how In conjunction with only being referred to by your last name, your mindset shifts from thinking as an individual to thinking as a unit.]
  • For the past year, I’ve followed a pretty strict gluten-free diet. At OCS, our diet was almost 100% gluten in the form of pasta, with occasional vegetables and a few fruits a day. The thing is, it didn’t really bother me too much cause I was so hungry all of the time, but towards the end I felt it catching up with me, and boy do I feel it now!
  • Politics run everything; I not naïve…I know that politics exist in every organization. But when it’s something as important as a Candidate’s future, you’d think there would be at least some effort to give fair evaluations. There are candidates who will probably graduate who have no business graduating, and there are candidates who got sent home unfairly. I’m having a difficult time articulating what the bureaucracy at OCS looked like, so maybe more will come on that later.

Lessons Learned

  • You can accomplish so much more than you could ever imagine if you just push yourself and allow others to push you. Never ever quit. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to?
  • Teamwork really does make the dream work.
  • Failing is not the worst thing that can happen; it allows you the opportunity to learn and grow. As Aaliyah once said: “if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.”
  • Life isn’t fair, but everything happens for a reason.
  • This isn’t something I learned at OCS, but each day I was reminded to appreciate and cherish members of the Armed forces. The men and women who lead our troops as officer deserve the utmost respect and honor. (I give mad props to those even just making it through OCS–that stuff is hard!)

Thank you! Thank you all for writing and praying for me. I am so grateful that I have such an incredible network of friends and family who encourage and support me. I would never have made it (especially the last few weeks) without you!

Hands down, OCS was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every day was mentally demanding and physically exhausting.

Would I do it again? HECK YES. In a heartbeat.

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