That Mentality

“The Marine Corps was like, ‘We’re gonna fix you… but it’s not gonna be fun.’ I was like, ‘I’m down for that.’”

Produced by Rebecca Werner.

Transcript for That Mentality

I didn’t like the way my life was going. I was like, “I’m kind of a deadbeat right now in high school.” Like, I didn’t do anything. I had a job. I liked the work, but I was, like, “I’m not going to spend my whole life working as a machinist, so I need something to kickstart my life.” I looked to the military, and the Marine Corps was like, “We’re gonna fix you.” Like, “We’re gonna make you a productive person in society, but it’s not gonna be fun.” I was like, “I’m down for that.”

I thought he was going to be a nerd, myself. I thought he going to be one of these guys playing with the video games all day. That’s why when he told me he joined the Marine Corps, “Ok.” It’ll make you a man. If you go in as a boy, you’ll come out as a man. Whatever they do, they got a purpose. And it’s not just because they want to be mean to you. They don’t want to harass you. There’s a purpose behind it. They used to call—everybody had a day in the barrel. Drill instructor would say, “Ok. We’ll take this guy. We’ll take that guy.” And they hound you just to see how much you can take before they break you. And there was a purpose behind that. Give you stamina. Build your strength up.

It’s thirteen weeks of hell, I guess, is the best way to describe it. You get there, you’re in an assembly line of getting clothes, and you’re walking through, and you’re getting shots in each arm as each step you take, and it’s just—that’s your first initiation there. And then you meet your drill instructors and from there, it’s them breaking you as a person and training you, basically. And the whole time you’re learning all the different skills you need to be a Marine: all the values, the history, and then, the Crucible was our kind of culminating event. It was basically, “Seventy-two hours, you’re going to get, like, an hour of sleep. Here’s three MREs, and here’s a task. You four need to figure out how to do it.” And then, we get done, we do a final hike up a mountain. That’s where we get the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. That’s when you become a Marine. Stressful time for me, but something I’ll never forget, and I loved it.

When you’re in the military, you got a way different society. You’re living with military people. You’re always around a lot of military people. You’re living in two societies, really. I mean, to come back and get—like, he’s got to get oriented with the people around him are all—aren’t military. They’re going to do what they want, and you know…

Well, I’m twenty-three in college. Most of my peers are eighteen to twenty-one at the most. And there’s just a lot of little moments of being like, “That’s really dumb. I’m going to say something.” And I’m like, “No, I can’t anymore. They’re not my Marines. They’re not my responsibility. They’re just my peers.” We were walking back to my car by Beacon and someone just threw trash and just walked away, and I like—I was with one my friends and like, they saw me like, about to start yelling, and like, “Yo, man, it’s not your problem.” I’m like, “Ugh.” I just got frustrated. I’m like, that’s something I would chew somebody out for before.

It’s weird going to college, and it’s a little more—everybody’s a little more introverted and less open. I think I scared a couple people when I first got here. That’s a hard change, too. Like, aside from my close friends and my roommate, like, I don’t have the conversations I can have. First time—like, first week of college, I would just sit down and start talking to somebody, and they’re like, weirded out that someone’s just talking to them. I’m used to the military where I just sit down next to somebody, we’re having a conversation about life thirty minutes later because it’s just you have that mentality with each other.

Hold a Conversation

Can you imagine leading a conversation about this story? Where? With whom? What kinds of questions would you pose? (See How to use the questions for reflection for one approach.) Please email your questions to us or post them in the comment box for our consideration. If you use them in an actual discussion, let us know how the conversation went.