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  • Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

    Hey guys,

    So, I recently read "The Heart and the Fist" by Eric Greitens. If you haven't read the book or don't know who Mr. Greitens is, he is a former SEAL and the book talks about his life experiences in relation to his time as a SEAL. It's a wonderful read, and if you haven't already I would recommend picking it up. But, it did bring up a big question for me. In the book, he talks about all the kids who go into BUD/S because of all of the media hype surrounding the force who had never really thought about what becoming a SEAL would truly mean. My fear, of course, with this is that I'm one of them.

    If you don't know me or haven't seen me post around the forum I'm a seventeen year old guy thinking about enlisting after I graduate high school. I first heard about the SEALs after the Maersk Alabama hijacking. Upon hearing that these incredible men had taken out Somali pirates from a mile away all at the same time amazed me: to perform under that kind of pressure and pull off an amazing feat! That's when I first gave serious thought to becoming a SEAL. I researched them more and more and my interest continued to grow. So, it is something that I've wanted for a long time. But, recently i've felt like I need to experience things about life more before making this commitment. And that would probably mean for me going to college. I just feel as though I've lived a very sheltered life.

    I want to make a couple things clear. My reasons for wanting to go to college are not to "further my career" or for any logic that things will be "easier" if I go to college. I know that's not the case. I also would not be "giving up." It's still something I would want to pursue upon graduation. It's also not the physical standards that worry me: my PST scores are actually very competitive. My worry is that, if this is something I want really badly for myself, I don't want to rush into it in an immature haste. And I know I'm immature, no question about it. Even some of my posts on this forum could be seen as immature. I suppose it's because I feel as though I lack "something." I don't really know what that "something" is, but it's there.

    Perhaps I've written enough for one night. I'd like to hear this community's thoughts on this. Do you think I'm just psyching myself out, or do you believe I'm making a wise decision? I know you don't know me, and you can't give any definitive answers, and I do know the decision comes down to me, not anybody else, but I would just like to cultivate a wide variety of opinions. And thank you for taking the time to read this. Really. I know I ramble quite a bit and people would rather not read a bunch of rambling, but it does mean a lot to me.

    But, please don't post anything like, "Everybody posts this same thing, stupid!" I know people post questions about going to college it's just, I can't get over these thoughts and want outside opinions.

  • #2
    Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

    I've read the book too - its a good read. Anyway, since you're making this post and asking this question it sounds like some seeds of doubt are planted in your head... and along with the PST, you should do everything you can to be fully ready to enter BUD/S mentally and physically. If you feel like your lacking something, you're not confident, and in my opinion not ready. Theres nothing wrong with going to college, it can only open up more opportunities and I believe it is encouraged by moderators on this form. Furthermore, I believe college graduates tend to be more successful at BUD/S (because they are older, and know more what they want) - but I would double check that that statistic before taking my word for it...

    All in all, it doesn't matter what I think - only you'll know when you're ready.

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    • #3
      Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

      That's true. Just by thinking about this there will always be that nagging, "Maybe I should have gone to college first..." if I enlist. I guess my thoughts are that if after five more years this is still what I want, I'll be more aware that this is absolutely what I want to do with my life, and thus more confident. And you're right--nothing wrong with going to college. Except for the financial burden, but that won't be too much of a problem with me, as I come from an upper-middle class family. And my hope is that college--while it wouldn't prepare me for a career in the SEALs--would allow me to become better and worldlier person before trying my hand at BUD/S.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

        Sounds like you've already decided the right path for you. I actually find it amazing that people that haven't gone through college, or at least experienced life on their own, can make it through BUD/S and SQT. It takes some real commitment and drive which most people don't have that young.
        Go to college. Join NROTC. Get some life experience and have fun... Just make good decisions while you do it because anything **** can jeopardize a career. If you still have that passion to work towards something bigger than yourself, dive right in.
        Btw.... Time flies.

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        • #5
          Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

          D*mb is censored lol

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

            I'm glad to see this kind of post. This is the critical honesty that I see a lot of candidates lacking (in my opinion).

            Some people enter into this process because they drank the media kool-aid. Some people try to do it because they saw one too many movies. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I feel confident that it just isn't a strong enough form of motivation in itself, nor does the individual have an accurate picture of anything (training, mental focus required, the lifestyle, etc.). They have an idealized image of what THEY think it means to be a SEAL. Admittedly, short of living it you aren't going to truly know how it is. However, I see an increasing amount of individuals who don't even put the smallest amount of effort to try to figure it out, and most importantly, whether it is something they want/can thrive in. They just proceed down this path with their fairy tale image of training and operating without a second thought. When reality hits these folks, I imagine it hits hard.

            rower did a good job of laying it out, no one can tell you if it is right, or if you are ready; that is up to you. I can tell you that I seriously considered an SO contract after graduating high school, as well as after graduating college. I made the decision that I was not ready both times. I am now 27 and an official member of the old balls club. I’ve been training for 8 months and I will be taking my first official PST in the coming months and hopefully will earn a contract. At this point, after college and having a corporate desk job, I am 100% sure this is for me. I can say that commitment has been thoroughly tested, as I've had every opportunity to just accept an 'easy' life. Being an older trainee has its challenges, but it **** sure has its benefits. I feel (if I earn my contract) that I will walk into BUD/s with a unique set of skills and experiences. More than anything, I will be confident in my decision and there will be no second guessing, which I see as one of the worst flaws to have going into this process.

            All in all, I feel maturity is a huge component of success. Life experiences give context to new experiences. You are able to take information in differently and hopefully in more effective ways regarding accomplishing your goals. There really is no substitute for that. This isn't to say a 17/18 year old wouldn't or can’t be successful. I suppose I am saying I would not have been successful at 17/18. I hope that helped. I wish you sincere good luck.

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            • #7
              Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

              I think you're right; I think I have decided. I've decided that I'm not ready yet. But, writing about it and having the community's thoughts has given me a great perspective on this so I thank you.

              So, whether the life experience will be college (which it probably will be) or something else, I hope it will allow me to mature and understand more about the world. Hopefully I can still be an active and postive member of this community, though! And I'll do my best not to do anything d*mb. (funny that "****" is censored but words like "hell" are not) By that I assume you mean doing drugs, drinking alcohol, that sort of thing. I've never really been the type anyway. I'm kind of a goodie-two-shoes sort of person. Hopefully that won't change. (I say hopefully a lot)

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

                Thank you IRunMan. Your words make me feel really good about myself. And, I'm glad I'm putting in the effort to think about what being a SEAL would really be like. And like you said, only I will know when I'm ready. Don't worry, I wasn't expecting anybody to tell me one way or the other, I just wanted to hear some thoughts. The beauty of my situation, illustrated by your experience, is that I've got plenty of time in my life. It would be ten years before I would not have this option, (or sooner if, as JC said, I do something stupid) and during that time I might feel discouraged, but it will still be there.

                I like your sentence, "Life experiences give context to new experiences." Because really, everything (all of our thoughts, that is) is based off our own perceptions. And maturity, I feel, is being able to process your experiences and react in a way that is most beneficial in one's situation. And that's something I don't think I have yet. Of course, probably nobody defines that definition perfectly, but the closer the better, right? Best of luck to you too my friend. You've really helped me quite a bit. Good luck on the PST. Can't wait to hear how it goes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

                  If you can smash the PST, you are physically able to complete training. That certainly doesn't mean you will have the mental strength/ maturity to stay committed during BUD/s. You need to ask yourself, and be 100% honest with yourself, No matter how tired, how cold, how miserable you will be, Will you stay and suck it up because pain is truly temporary, or will you quit because deep down inside you had that sliver of the quitting attitude inside of you. The thought of quitting is a poison. If you have those thoughts you will eventually quit. You need to know when you are ready. Hooyah and good luck!
                  Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

                    At the end of the day only you know whats inside you. Life experience is something that allows us to put thing in perspective and make decisions with a broader view. The decisions made by most at 16 aren't usually the same at 26. It's One reason why MARSOC and Force Recon only take guys with time in the Corp, no contracts for civilians. Maturity and experience clearly have value or it wouldn't be looked at in the draft. I'm only 18 and have been preparing physiclally and mentally for this my whole life and August can't come soon enough form me! I hope the best for you and really appreciate your seriousness about the mission. Good luck!!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

                      I didn't go to college right out of high school and I think it was one of the best things I could have done for myself. As soon as I got my HS diploma, I went right to work, got my own place, paid my own way and became a contributing member of society at a whopping 7.50 an hour or whatever it was at the time. It taught me that life was "real", if you know what I mean. Now, I've never liked school, but I was told growing up that that's where you had to go to be somebody. I am living proof, this is not the case. Life doesn't start in college. College is not real life. College is just that; college. And after working for a few years and picking up some real life experience before trying the college route, you see why it's not. The skills and experience that I had developed prior to going to school helped me tremendously and gave me a definite advantage in contrast to my classmates, most of whom had never really experienced anything as a self sufficient adult and took school for granted.

                      My point: College compliments your progression into society, it does not create it, it is not essential. It further facilitates your advancement in a particular field. Anything else you do in school is just screwing around. So, unless you have a strong interest in a particular field, don't go to school, you're wasting your time and money. This is where gaining some life experience can come in handy in helping open your eyes to yourself and what you want.

                      As far as waiting to enlist, you've got to be your own judge of maturity and other factors that will determine your success. A good way to gauge that is meeting people who have been successful at it. I can tell you that at age 18, I was almost without a doubt not mature enough to make it through plain ol' bootcamp, let alone trying the hardest military training in the world. I think that your perspective will change as you age and can only help you.

                      My advice if I was in your shoes: You know you want to be a SEAL. Take a year or two, get a job, take a couple college courses at a community college if you want, get your own place or with roommates and train your *** off. Learn to rely on yourself. Learn to have confidence in your abilities in a real world setting. Learn how to take care of real life problems. All of these things will help you in BUD/S and the rest of your life. If you change your mind in that time, then that's fine. If you still want to be a SEAL, you'll be ready. College will always be there, the SEALs will not. You can always go to school later on. Remember, you can go to school while you're in the Navy and they'll pay for it.

                      I dunno man, no matter what just follow your heart and you can never go wrong.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

                        I will respectfully disagree with tfranc for several reasons on this topic. College is a time where you go in order to specialize in a certain field, and basically become "qualified," to do that job by society's standards. Despite this, it is also a time where you figure out what you like and what you don't like. You will meet all kinds of different people, take classes on all kinds of different topics, work different jobs, see different areas, and learn things about yourself and others. For example, I was pursuing a totally different path before I came to know about the SEAL pipeline. I never even knew I wanted to join the SEAL community until I was a junior. At that point I was working as an undergraduate researcher in an Organic Synthesis lab working on my own project. Around spring break, my grandmother sent me a book about Navy SEALs in the mail; I opened it not expecting to make a life decision based on what I read but I did. It was a snowball effect from there. I started reading and researching about the community, desperately trying to find every bit information that I could. Once I was interested in this path, I was dead sure that I wasn't going to be working in a research lab for the next two decades of my life; I was going to put every ounce of energy and effort into reaching the goal of making it to the teams.

                        I read the Heart and the Fist (great read by the way). I also read Dam* Few by Rourke Denver, and in his book he didn't know what he wanted to do until near the end of his college career while playing lacrosse at Syracuse University. He eventually went on to be responsible for the training of many Navy SEALs over the course of his career.

                        The point of me telling you all of this I guess is that you have plenty of time down the road if you want to pursue a career as a SEAL now, or later. If you're having reservations now, then maybe you should get out in the world and see if you can't find anything else that sparks your interest, while also gaining life experience along the way. Some of the things you do may actually solidify your desire to pursue that path. Some of the things you do may help you down the road if/when you ever arrive in Coronado for training. College is definitely a place where you'll get the chance to try different paths. I worked a few jobs during college that I HATED, one of them being roofing in the hot South Florida sun. Working that job was grueling, don't get me wrong. But it taught me what it was like to have to work your tail off for little return, and in turn humbled me. My days were hot, I worked with people that spoke very little English, and I had no prior experience. But I learned to adapt quickly. I learned some spanish, I worked as hard as my body would let me and I earned the respect of those around me.

                        Like it's been said, it's ultimately up to you. But it definitely won't be a bad decision if you decide to go get your education first. There's always the ROTC route too if you decide to do so. Hope my post gave you a little perspective and you reach your goal whether it's now or 8 years from now.

                        GL

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                        • #13
                          Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

                          Thanks for all of the responses everyone. It's really giving me a better perspective on my situation. I'll try to address each of your thoughts in one post this time, instead of responding to each individual one.

                          I approach the thought of going to college with mixed feelings. I'll be honest and say that one of the main draws of me wanting to go into the SEALs is that the only people one has to depend on are one's "brothers" to have one's back. Other than that, one is self-reliant, strong, and capable. In college, one has to depend on so many people. One's parents is the big kicker: to completely pay for one's education. And I HATE being financially dependant. Even though I come from an upper-middle class family, I got a miserable minimum-wage job with my studies and training so that I could pay for my own food, clothes et cetera. I just don't like the idea of "owing" somebody, regardless of whether they want me to pay them back. From that perspective I like your thoughts tfranc. But, I wouldn't consider everything else that's not advancing one's career "screwing around." It brings up questions like why bother being educated then? I feel (and I may be wrong, as these are still opinions) that college, at least on the undergraduate level, is still a place where one comes to know more about the world and various topics. Of course, it's more practical to go into anything, be it a university or vocation, with an idea on how one is going to support one's self. But, I feel that sometimes just broadening one's horizons is a sufficient enough reason to attend college. And in that respect I agree more with noleman. However, point taken: not everybody sees it that way and takes it for granted. And yes, school will be an option longer than the SEALs.

                          But, back on topic: "A good way to gauge that is meeting people who have been successful at it." I like that observation simply because of how true it is. One of the reasons I decided I wasn't ready was from meeting veterans, who, although they loved military life, had experienced many things in their life before joining. And, personally, I haven't. I've lived in one town my whole life. Really only been apart of one community. And I've never really thought too much what life is like in other people's shoes. So, while I may mature in the sense that I'm not a bratty child, I don't think I'm mature in the sense that I've experienced things beyond my own comfort. Like RunMan said earlier in this thread, "When reality hits these folks, I imagine it hits hard." I want to really understand what I'm getting into before I get into it. Which, I still want to continue down this path, but not right now. Hopefully that makes sense.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

                            Originally posted by tfranc View Post

                            My advice if I was in your shoes: You know you want to be a SEAL. Take a year or two, get a job, take a couple college courses at a community college if you want, get your own place or with roommates and train your *** off. Learn to rely on yourself. Learn to have confidence in your abilities in a real world setting. Learn how to take care of real life problems. All of these things will help you in BUD/S and the rest of your life. If you change your mind in that time, then that's fine. If you still want to be a SEAL, you'll be ready. College will always be there, the SEALs will not. You can always go to school later on. Remember, you can go to school while you're in the Navy and they'll pay for it.

                            I dunno man, no matter what just follow your heart and you can never go wrong.
                            This is spot on to what I'm going through. However, I felt mentally ready at 18, some people are just born/raised with the traits to make it through challenges like its a matter of life and death. I was fortunate enough for my father to be in the spec ops community, so growing up, it wasn't good enough unless it was perfect; it didn't matter how **** hard I tried, maximum effort was just always expected reguardless.

                            With some snags along the recruiting line, I'm in a situation where I've got to wait two years before I can reapply. Instead of losing sight; I'm seeing how this can be beneficial to me. Two more years I'll get that much more experience, and become that much more mentally experienced. Like tfranc said; I've got time to get a full time job, live on my own, take a couple classes if I feel so inclined (working toward a furture career but nothing specific, just the fundamentals :eng math etc.) Really spend the next couple years to hone in handling things to perfection, mastering time management, learn from doing things wrong... forgetting to ask what you need to do for something, or screwing up a schedule. Take some time to really learn how your body fuels and what you need to optimize your nutrition/workout schedule. Really, be 100% responsible for yourself, be accountable, and train to win. You've got time to prepare, I know what it feels like to be 18... anxious to find what you do, and do it. You just gotta realize, we're lucky to have 10 years before we become unelegable. We've got time on our side; so it would be stupid to not use it. If it takes me 5 years to finally get with a mentor, sweet. I'll show up and be able to wreck the PST, and have an extremely high level of overall fitness/mental/injury prevention/nutrition preparation.

                            In your case, since you've had so little 'experience'. I'd definatly take advantage of that, get a job, live on your own, hell travel and move around it you feel so inclined. Just don't get into trouble, and don't get stupid/distracted. I've traveled around EU, AUS, NZ, CAN and i've been to most of the states. I partied my *** off in highschool and had enough sex and relationships to realize that I don't want to chase tail, or settle down for the rest of my life, and I most defiantly don't just wanna have fun. I screwed up not playing high school hockey... but I agressive inline skated for 10+ years.. I grew up learning not just to get back up when you fall down, but to find out what went wrong, how to fix it and try harder the next time; and if you do something, it doesn't count if you just do it, its gotta LOOK Good, its gotta be smooth, intro.. exit.. transitions.. etc. its all gotta be PERFECT, and you do it over and over until it is perfect. You gotta go above and beyond everyone else to stand out. You have to train more than the next guy to be better than him. Mentally, I'm in a position where there's no doubt I want to do something I'd die for, I want to compete for life and death, I want to be the best, and I want to live and work with the best. And I want it to be a career, I want it to be my life. My time limit to get in is ten years. If it takes me nine... it takes me nine. If it takes me 11... well, I want to be sure as hell couldn't have tried any harder; the only way to do that it to be committed. All I know is, the next X amount of time I have will not be wasted on frivolous things; but ONLY because I already wasted so much time with them. Experience leads to surety. Inexperience leads to doubt. You simply cannot KNOW, unless you've been there. Sure, you can have a good idea, and maybe that's enough for some... I'm just an all in balls to the wall kinda guy.

                            Then, when all is said and done, if your still alive at the end of the road. You can find a girl, raise a family... and be a **** good parent. Or go off and be a monk/hermit somewhere, do w/e tickles your peach. In the end; nothing speaks like experience.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Gaining More Life Experience Before Enlisting

                              Ive wanted to be a SEAL since I was 10. Im 17 now and each day my motivation gets stronger. If you go to BUD/s dont let someone with a microphone get you to quit. It's going to suck but if you want the trident you will suck it up and keep pushing.

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