The Six Month Flop
It’s Better to Weeble More, and Splat Less
As of 10 days ago, I have been retired from the military 1 year.
They say you know when it is time to leave, and it is a true statement. I don’t know how you know, but you do. There is no email notification, no social media post; your boss doesn’t tell you (be worried if they do); there is no surprise it’s-time-to-go party.
If I could describe it, it is an insidious feeling that starts to creep over you. You might look ahead, and see no path, or see a path that does not include the military. It may be a fleeting thought at first; just daydreaming after a frustrating day. Then the daydream is more frequent, every few months, monthly, weekly, on good days, as well as, bad days. Then you start thinking, Hmmm, I can leave in xx years, or Hey, I can leave anytime I want.
I might have known earlier than many of my counterparts that my service had an expiration date, as I started my countdown 5 years out from my retirement date. My work environment was excessively mentally draining at best, if not toxic at certain times. My sanity was a few like-minded co-workers, an exceptionally understanding husband, and a strong belief in the mission. I also knew if I made rank, I would most likely only have two choices for assignment…neither which interested me.
Others may not even reach retirement age before the question, What am I doing here?, pops in their head. Maybe they came in with expectations that never materialized, a culture that they do not understand, a direction they did not choose. Perhaps they came in for the benefits and are following through with their post military college game plan. Maybe they came in with an entire career mapped out and their journey led them on another path.
For other’s the choice is not theirs. They are medically boarded or involuntarily separated. It might feel like the rug was ripped out from under them. For our Guard and Reserve brethren, they could be losing both their military and civilian jobs (e.g. injury affects both careers). These folks are getting the rug ripped out from under them, all while standing at the edge of a cliff. It can feel like the ultimate loss of control.
No matter how it goes down, the day will eventually come. For me, it was right in the midst of COVID. No fanfare, no ceremony, no party. We were all teleworking at that point, and trying to keep up, so a goodbye was a stretch. No animosity, just accepted it for what it was and moved on.
And then you’re out. (Continue reading here...)