It's pretty damn hard to believe that it has been exactly one year since I had my 24th birthday in the army. I was drafted four days previous, on the 22nd of October, 2008. Still nervous as hell every morning upon waking up, I kept my mouth shut when my birthday came. No one knew about it, and that was the way I wanted it. Despite that, as I said in that post from a year ago, "It was really tough spending your birthday getting yelled at."
Well, days have changed. I am a fully-rated combat soldier, and yelling is reserved for... nevermind. They still yell at us all the time! Not like in the movies, like basic training in Full Metal Jacket, but it is for when we do something wrong. And that happens all the time.
So, I guess I will also spend my day getting yelled at!
But again, as I said in 2008, "I've always wanted to be a soldier, especially for the only army in the world that I think is 100% imperative for the existence of the state it serves. So, ideologically I didn't need cake or toys or songs." The only thing I'd change about that now is that yeah, I'd like cake. And don't you worry, I will eat some cake!
Seriously though, and I know everyone says this at this age, but I am having a hard time understanding how I'm already 25. I remember quite distinctly being about 17 and thinking long and hard about what Danny Brothers of 2009, a 25-year-old man, would be like. This is the age that definitively signals adulthood. This is the age where your profession becomes your life. Where marriage and children become a reality. Where you become, I don't know... grown-up.
But I don't feel like that! Man, I feel like a kid still. I'm pretty sure I'm 18 and just started college. That ridiculously handsome, athletic, muscular body in the mirror? That's not mine, is it? Those rugged good looks on that wise, mature face? Could it really be? And the prophetic eyes staring back at me; where did they come from?
At 16 I thought about myself at 25 as being everything I wasn't at the time: confident in my beliefs, set in my ways, and self-sure. Some of those are good things, others less so. Regardless, at least those things have come with age. For that I am thankful. I don't think I am quite as emotionally stable and mature as I hoped I would be, but over the past few years I have learned that emotional stability is one of the rarest traits. And considering the challenge I've gone through over the past year, I think I'm doing ok coping with difficulties, and stability in general.
I'll stop rambling now. It's just that this is the one forum where I can tell everyone how weird it is to have arrived. I'm sure my 40-year-old readers are rolling their eyes. I don't care. Keep rolling. It's my blog and I'll express amazement when I want to! Honestly, listen to me, I could go on for hours about all types of things I expected with this age, from my body (I used to be a serious weight lifter, and I always dreamed about the "prime of life" 25-year-old body) to my intelligence to knowledge to career to love life, and so on.
Hey, us old people are supposed to ramble, right? And be incoherent? Welcome to senility, I say! I guess I really am the grandpa of the army now.
Here's some photos for comparison to what six years does to a man:
A 19-year-old backpacking young buck, ready to roll
A 25-year-old: give me coffee or don't talk to me