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in which I fail to achieve depression

Looking over my last few posts, I realize that it may seem that my life is focused entirely about my computer, with occasional forays into traditional college activities like classes. That is not exactly the case. I do other things, sometimes. I have been known to watch anime, play Dungeons and Dragons, read books for enjoyment, and participate in other activities typically the domain of the smelly kids with acne wearing thick glasses.

I suppose the problem is that for quite some time, I’ve had a future basically mapped out and planned for myself. I defined my identity primarily in terms of that planned future: I’ve been an AFROTC cadet all through college. Before that, I was a Civil Air Patrol cadet during high school. After college, I was supposed to become an Air Force officer. Suddenly, I’ve been removed from AFROTC; the Air Force doesn’t want me. I need to figure out some driving force, some goal that I’m going to focus on and work towards, because until then I’m going to continue the pattern of just sort of drifting.

In the meantime, there are a few things I know are going to change about my future. At the bare minimum, I won’t achieve something I thought I already had: going through college without student loans. Which I’m going to have to find very soon now. I’m going to have to find an actual job after college, using my degree–another thing I hadn’t really planned on. I probably should find a job during college to pay to live.

I can find lots of things to do to keep myself busy. But busy isn’t good enough, because busywork won’t help me accomplish anything. I’d really like to accomplish something with my life.

One option, I suppose, would be to try to realign my identity as the fratboy. I’m already a member of a fraternity, complete with boozy parties and brothers who are never sober, rooms that always smell of pot and rooms (and people) that just smell unwholesome. I could set my goals simply: graduate with the minimum passing grades, eventually, while spending as little time sober as possible. Getting laid counts for bonus points. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. As time goes on, I see the fraternity turning more and more into the horrible stereotype of everything it shouldn’t be. I joined with a group of friends, but I’ve only stayed close to a few. The rest have drifted away into apathy, drunkenness, fraternity politics, or have dropped out and vanished. In the meantime, this place hasn’t been the inroad to new friendships that it was meant to be. Sure, there are a lot of cool people… but there are as many assholes. And I’ve never really fit into the cool crowd. I guess that the telling point here is that I was planning on moving out before I ever heard from the Air Force, and that’s still going to happen over winter break, barring another fuckup.

I’ve considered joining the National Guard. If nothing else, it means that I’d have an income. Hell, I might as well enlist in the Army. Their enlisted jobs are better than those in the Air Force anyway. The problem there is that the lowest-ranking Army jobs pay less than the poverty line, and I will have those student loans to pay off. Still, it’s something to keep in mind for after school, if I can’t find anything else. It’s no good for the meantime, though. The biggest problem with the National Guard is that it’s a little too close to the stereotype of a homegrown ‘militia’ which consists mostly of rednecks sitting around in camoflauge drinking beer and toting their hunting rifles.

I could delve into the schoolwork, really try hard, get good grades, all that. The biggest drain on my time is gone now, and the second-biggest will be gone after the winter break, when I move out of the fraternity. There’s not even any sort of good reason why I shouldn’t do that. But it isn’t fun, and I know myself well enough to know that even though I can start any projects I want to, I only follow through on the ones that I enjoy. There was never really a time in the Air Force when I wasn’t having fun. Fraternity life has actually become non-fun to the point where it’s overcoming inertia and causing me to break away. But schoolwork has never actually been fun, and I just can’t see myself developing that kind of work ethic in the amount of time I would need to.

I suppose that really defines the crux of the problem: I’m looking for something to do that I enjoy that’s big enough that I won’t feel silly defining my life around it. I enjoy anime and role playing games, but those arent really anything I can turn into my life’s work. I suppose I could get a job programming, but that has such a huge potential for drudgework that it makes me want to shy away. It’s not that there aren’t fun parts; it’s more that for each cool innovative thing you do, you have to spend so many painful hours debugging that it’s almost not worth it. I need to do something that I really enjoy, and I’ve focused my last few years into developing a set of skills that have suddenly become basically worthless.

The short term problem, at least, is solvable: I have to find something to concentrate on until I finish school that I’ll find fun. Maybe I’ll take up a sport. Actually, that could be good; it’ll keep me from falling too far out of shape. I don’t know. My sister races crew at her school; I suppose I could do the same. I’ll have to make a note of that, find out about it.

I suppose it’s important to keep a sense of perspective about everything. I was born and raised in the richest country in the world, in a stable family by people who weren’t poor. I’m in a good college and I’m smart enough to finish up with good grades. You can’t say that I haven’t been lucky; you could say that I’d be crazy to complain too much about my situation. Please bear with me if I complain too much, or post strange, inane things: my life is changing rather dramatically, and I’m dealing with it however I can. And it’ll get better over time. I just have to get used to things.

You remember the old Chinese curse? Well, I’m starting to realize why it’s a bad thing to have an interesting life. (If this journal is uninteresting, it’s my own inadequacy in writing; trust me, my life is more than interesting enough for me as I’m living it.)

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Comment by matt rose Windows Vista Internet Explorer 8.0 Subscribed to comments via email
2010-05-12 23:07:07

hey, could I ask you a question? If I quit AFROTC because of personal reasons could I get my commision through Air Force Officer Training School in the future?

Comment by coriolinus Windows NT Mozilla Firefox 3.6.3
2010-05-22 18:04:29

I have no idea. I’m living proof that leaving ROTC for an even more prejudicial reason is no bar from a career as a military officer. However, I did switch branches: I was told quite clearly that if I tried to get back into the AF, I’d have a tough time getting in at all, let alone making a career of it. I think the people to ask would be the AFROTC cadre.


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