Sunday, August 30, 2009

6 Shots Sunday?

In the spirit of 7 Quick Takes Friday (mine will be 6 Shots Sunday, maybe...), I'll be giving short thoughts, in an attempt to not seem scattered (which, of course, I am).


I started RCIA last week. Although I feel a bit out of place (as I have no real reason to be there), I’m already glad I decided to go. It’s great to see so many people interested in the Catholic Church. Some people have been going to Mass for many years while most people there hardly know anything at all. To my surprise, my mechanics of materials professor is also going through the class, although she converted over 20 years ago. I think she wants her non-Catholic husband to come to RCIA with her. Please pray for those flirting with becoming Catholic.


My classes are going well. I’m finally taking an actual aerospace class (my very first) and am very excited about it. I’ve already learned how sound works. Pretty cool stuff. I’m also taking more math (differential equations) and a class (mechanics of materials) that is basically a continuation of my favorite class from last semester (statics). I’m looking forward to this semester, now all I have to do is my homework… I hope I can manage…


I’m also taking a world literature class. I never know what to think about these sorts of classes. I’m not the best at writing and analyzing, but I am very interested in the material. My only problem with classes like this is that it requires me to think too much, too quickly. Much like my ethics class, we go through a lot of material and ideas in one class discussion. I try to keep up with what is being said, taking in the main ideas, forming my own opinions, thinking of whether this new idea fits in with my belief system, and then trying to formulate a comment to share with the class, all before the next person starts talking. It requires a lot of my brain. I’m also not sure what I think of the professor yet. Right now we are reading creation stories, and while talking about the main ideas, he sneaks in some comparison with the bible or some comment on Christianity as a whole, even though we haven’t started talking about any part of the bible yet. It’s a bit frustrating, especially with the way he explains “Christianity’s basic beliefs“.


I found this new background and decided to change the look of the place. How do you like it?


I went on a retreat this weekend and had the opportunity to meet a great youth minister (check out his podcast). One of the things that I believe made him such a powerful speaker and an easy person to identify with is that he was so open with us. He talked to us about some of his struggles as a kid with his dwarfism and how it affected his life and faith. In discussions, he would share extremely personal stories with ease (even though that's his job, I'm sure it can't come completely natural). Later on, long after he left to drive back to northern Alabama, we were asked to be open with each other about our struggles and needs. In theory, being open doesn’t sound so hard, but in spontaneous real life, it’s a very hard thing to do, especially when you don’t get to pick the place or time, and you aren’t necessarily close to those whom you are sharing with. It would have been very easy to close off, give short and simple explanations to my trivial struggles and just leave it at that. I’m sure some chose to do that, as I almost did, but being honest with myself in front of others was a liberating experience, and I felt real prayer and concern. I guess it becomes what you make out of it. Being open is hard but is very worth it.


The readings this week were powerful. In the second reading, we are told to “keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27) I like this image. We must be careful what we expose ourselves to, and more so, what we let into our hearts. God “planted” in us the word that can save us, but we must not smother it with the pollutions of this world. The Gospel was deafening. “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile”. We can’t make excuses for how we are because of things that may have happened to us. We allow sin to come from us, we allow ourselves to be stained.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A day in the life...

Over the summers I tend to forget why exactly it is that I’m in ROTC. Thinking of all the getting up early, ironing, protocol, endless email, long meetings, and working out (which is not one of my favorite things), I start to question my sanity. It seems I like to torture myself. But then the school year starts, and right off, every semester, I’m reminded why I put myself through all these things.

In the course of a day I can go from being totally apathetic towards it, to being mad, to being extremely inspired and then motivated, only to remember I hardly have time to do my homework. It can be a tiring process, but I normally go to bed happy with my decision to stick with it for another week.

My cadre (the actual Air Force officers and Airmen who are in charge of us) are some of the best people I’ve ever met. My class instructor, who I meet with at least twice a semester, is what I hope to be in the Air Force. The man is just so genuine and doesn’t feed me petty compliments or unnecessary criticism. Yet, he inspires me in a way I believe I can do anything and that everyone will be willing to help. Honestly, some days during field training the only thing that kept me going was not wanting to disappoint him.

He is showing me what it means to be a great leader. True respect, appreciation and investment in each person, while helping guide, and at times pushing, someone a certain way. I hope one day to gain enough respect and trust so that someone doesn’t want to disappoint me.

I’m also so thankful that I’m a part of the Air Force. From day one they stress how this is a family, which I always thought was pretty cheesy. Now, looking at the officers who help me out, I can really see that it is. I watched my friends grow up, in a way. Hearing of their struggles, seeing them succeed, and even better, getting scholarships, is fulfilling to me. I can’t see myself turning my back on it. From stories I hear from the other branches at Auburn, I don’t think they have a sense of family like we do. There is something about the Air Force that does feel like home, although I’m not completely comfortable. But maybe that’s a good thing.

A tid-bit of what we hear all the time:

I hope that the United States of America has not yet passed the peak of honor and beauty, and that our people can still sustain certain simple philosophies at which some miserable souls feel it incumbent to sneer. I refer to some of the Psalms, and to the Gettysburg Address, and the Scout Oath. I refer to the Lord’s prayer, and to that other oath which a man must take when he stands with hand uplifted, and swears that he will defend his Country.

None of these words described, or the beliefs behind them, can be sung to modern music. But they are there, like rocks and oaks, structurally sound and proven. They are more than rocks and oaks; they are the wing and the prayer of the future.

Whether we venture into realms of Space in our latest vehicles, or whether we are concerned principally with overhauling our engines and loading our ordnance here on the ground, we will still be part of a vast proud mechanism which must function cleanly if it is to function at all.
...Crank her up. Let’s go.

-General Curtis E. LeMay, US Air Force

Monday, August 24, 2009

The silent calm

For the first time in a long while, I feel strangely calm. I don’t have this sense to change everything in my life and do it all at once. I feel really good about where I am.

I think sometimes God tells us to just keep on doing what we’re doing, because that’s what I’m getting right now. It isn’t that He has stopped leading, maybe it’s that I’ve stopped resisting. I talked to my mom last night. It was the first time I really talked to her about field training. After catching her up on some highlights of that month, she asked about when I would submit my packet to the pilot selection board. And for the first time I explained, without crying, rage, or extreme frustration, that I will never be a pilot. I said again that there are no waivers for height, and that being a pilot is no longer an option for me. For the first time, I accepted it when others have not. It is not my place to question God’s plan. I have to do what He says and believe in the Truth. All other fantasies I may dream up from that, I must let go.

It’s not an easy path, at least it hasn’t been for me. God has asked me to do many hard things, and sometimes I feel as if I’m not strong enough to endure them. I wonder if God is making a mistake by calling me to some situations. What do I have to offer? I think others can always do a better job than me, and say much more eloquently what I’ve been rambling on about. He has made me slow down. I have had to be still and silent so many times in order to feel His tapping, and barely make out His whisper. But those are the times He knew I would be listening closely. Whenever I’m on a crazy roller coaster with the tracks in the wrong direction, God has thrown Himself at me and has shown me miracles. He knew only that could have caught my attention at the time.

I can’t question anymore. If I did, I would be the biggest idiot in the world. I’m going to wait and see where He takes me. It’ll be much better than anything I can think up anyway.

Lord of peace, enter this house.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finding the devil in church

One thing I have always been disappointed with about going to Latin Masses isn’t the Mass itself, it’s the discussions that follow afterwards. Like I’ve said, meeting dedicated people can be difficult sometimes. I want to talk about the Mass, how beautiful it was, what the priest was doing and why, the homily, the history of the church building, and maybe a number of similar topics. But normally, and I’m not quite sure how, it quickly turns to talking about the battles of the Latin Mass, or more appropriately, the battles with other people who disagree about some aspect of the “traditional mindset”. Frankly, it sounds like a hundred nails scratching against a fresh chalkboard compared to what had just went on inside the church. It is ugly and harsh, and they make themselves, who want everyone to love tradition as much as they do, sound like the arrogant bashers they are complaining about. If I could change one thing about the Latin Mass community, it would be this. (and of course, this certainly doesn’t apply to all lovers of the Latin Mass, it’s just a general observation).

The devil takes good and beautiful things and twists them so they can divide and cause sin. To me, it’s obvious he has snuck his way into the church and is using the Mass (the most Holy Mass!) and sacred liturgy to tear people apart and harden hearts. Pride and semi-hatred is easy to find within the Latin Mass community and, honestly, it saddens me. What a great treasure they are trying to show the world! But instead they throw insults at those who probably weren’t properly exposed to the Latin Mass in the first place. It’s a bit frightening to hear glimmers of this trap coming from a priest. This must be combated. On a subject such as this, that is very close to the heart and is firmly in place, it’s hard to see where the other person is coming from, especially if they dismiss all that you hold dear. However, it is the Christian’s duty, and more so, the Catholic’s duty, to be patient and understanding and love the person first. The Holy Father’s example in this matter has been most excellent. We are so fortunate to have such a holy and wise pope as the one we have now. His letters ooze with Truth.

Also, we can’t forget that the Holy Spirit led the Church here, and is using the situation to bring good things. One such example that I have recognized is how the Traditional Latin Mass is awakening a sense of awe and reverence for the Eucharist. In both the Novus Ordo, and the Latin Mass (of course) it seems as though there is a revolution to worship the Lord more perfectly through the Mass, and have more reverence in his presence. Would this be the case if the transition to the Novus Ordo never occurred? Maybe decades from now, we will see how the two forms influenced each other to bring about greater faith and love for God. Overall, isn’t that the goal?

Peace and love!

Which Mass?

I’ve gone to a few Latin Masses (strangely enough, never at the same church), and I’ve come to really enjoy the Extraordinary Form. It has deep symbolism for the mind, rich visual cues for the eyes, incense for the sensitive sense of smell, and beautiful music to really pull everything together. Also, I find, the use of Latin brings about a totally different mindset during Mass than in English. It is another Catholic jewel that I’ve been exposed to since moving to Auburn, and has only deepened my love of the Church and its beauty.

However, my trips normally don’t end with the Mass. Out of about half of the times I’ve attended the traditional Latin Mass, I meet up with other lovers of the Latin Mass. I suppose, as with many other less understood things, these people can come across as, shall we say, dedicated. They love the Latin Mass, tradition, and all things related. And they are willing to debate and defend because they know what they are talking about. At first, I was a bit intimidated with this immersion of things I knew little about. But after going to more Masses, and talking to them more, I think I see why they are so stubborn in their ideas.

The Traditional Latin Mass offers a new (or actually, old) level of worship. I’m not sure if I can adequately explain it here, especially if you’ve never experienced it for yourself, but it gives instantly the sense of the entire Trinity’s presence and is very graceful, which is fitting for praising God. Those who are quite fond of it normally think it should be the only form and have negative things to say about the Novus Ordo Mass (or the Ordinary Form of the Mass in English).

But I’m not convinced. Looking at the only thing I truly know well, my life, I can say that if I had experienced these sorts of people earlier in life, or even the Latin Mass, I probably wouldn’t have gone back.

The Novus Ordo is a big part of what led me to where I am in my faith journey. I remember, as a child, really liking the idea of coming to Mass as you are and not having to change clothes. Jesus wants you there no matter how you look. I talked to my mom a lot about what was happening at the alter, or having short discussions of the homily or the responsorial psalm. Also, the responses were very helpful throughout my childhood, as normally one would just “click” one day, and Mass would change a little for me. It led me to explore the beliefs of the church on my own time and to make the decision to become confirmed.

And although I really love the English Mass, I feel the traditional Latin Mass is helping me develop an adult Catholic faith. There is just so much more there. Just going to these ornate and ancient churches for a Mass is enough to get a person hooked. The Latin Mass, in itself, has shown me just how powerful the Mass is.

But on thinking if this form of the Mass was what I grew up on, would I appreciate it the same? The idea is children will ask lots of questions (which of course they will) and get solid answers from their parents and then they would love Mass for all that it is and be devout Catholics. However, I see how this may turn into being confused and frustrated and maybe not getting the perfect answers they were hoping to find. Or worse yet, not seeing how it connects with modern times. Looking at what really pleased me about the Church in my childhood, I may not be able to find any of those at the Latin Mass, although this is just speculation.

Should we return to the Latin Mass and dismiss the Ordinary Form as a mistake of Vatican II? I think that would be disastrous. Forcing something on to anyone never turns out well. Instead I think we should use the Latin Mass to help deepen faith and spread knowledge of it to those who will listen.

As Pope Benedict states in his Summorum Pontificum:
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.What earlier generations held as sacred, remains as sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.

So what is my conclusion? The Novus Ordo is quite necessary as a base line for faith (not saying that a person wouldn’t be able to find that in the Latin Mass straight away, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the Novus Ordo is better suited for this task). The Extraordinary Form is also quite necessary in order to convey just what the Church is and keeps within it (and again, this may also be found in the Novus Ordo Mass). I certainly am not in favor of doing away with either as both showcase the glory of God.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Too eager?

Maybe it’s because of who I hang out with. Maybe it’s because of what I read, or the emails I get sent. Maybe it’s because I’m Catholic. But I feel like a revolution is in the works. Can’t everyone see the pro-life movement’s efforts? Can’t everyone see what contraception is doing to society? Can’t everyone see why we have so many sexual problems manifesting themselves practically everywhere? Apparently not.

With every birth control conversation I end up in, or briefing about sexual assault, or pro-life event, I seem to go off the deep end with talking about every little reason behind everything. Seeing a person who may be naïve about birth control, for instance, makes me want to jump right in and tell them all the awful things about it. I want to convert them, in a sense, to the truth instantly.

And I become so surprised and taken-aback almost when someone seems to have “missed” this revolution (by disagreeing with me perhaps). I start to talk as if they already know what I know, have read what I’ve read, heard what I’ve heard. I get so wrapped up in all my information and emotions and excitement that I think I completely miss the person. I think about the conversations I have with people often and how I messed something I said up or forgot to explain something, or didn’t explain well enough. I feel like I let a whole bunch of people (most of who I’ve never met) down.

Maybe I don’t completely fail to convey the main reasoning and ideas, but I think I could definitely do a better job. And who knows, maybe it’s the first time they are hearing this, and are stunned.

Is it worth coming across too eager about a controversial way of thinking, even if you might scare someone away? Does anyone even care? Or am I fooling myself thinking that things will begin to change soon? Maybe I'm the naïve one.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I am so excited to be back in Auburn. I’ve almost forgotten why I love this place so much. No where else can I be who I am in Auburn. It was so good seeing some of my dear friends today and catching up on how similar our lives are. I think I realized what it takes to be good friends with me and to make me happy. As long as I can endlessly talk about God, Jesus, Mary, the saints, and the Church with you, we are all set! Really, if we talked of nothing else, I probably wouldn’t even notice. This summer above all else has shown me that I probably am a Catholic freak. But what can I say? It makes me happy. And to know so many Catholic people who are also borderline obsessed with it and love to talk about all things religious too, just makes me feel like I have a real home!

School starts in a week and there is an odd feeling in the air. It’s the sadness of a summer gone and goodbyes said. It’s the realization of classes starting soon. It’s a nervous excitement for a new semester. But it’s a feeling of everything working out right. I feel almost like I’m starting over this year. So much has happened last year and this summer that I almost feel like a completely new and wiser person. Maybe a person who can really take in Auburn for everything it has to offer. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to see what this semester brings and where it will take me.

Peace and love!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Field Training Part 3 (Not entirely complaining)

I think the main reason, though, that I so severely didn’t like field training, is because it didn’t live up to my expectations. I wanted life changing experiences. I wanted to grow and surprise myself. I wanted to be so impressed with my flight mates and the training officers, that I felt I had my work cut out for me. I wanted to be really challenged and meet those challenges. In some ways, these things did happen, but not as I had hoped for.

This post was going to be straight-up complaining about how I didn’t fit in with my flight mates, and how they didn’t get me or my sense of humor, and how it was so miserable not having anyone to talk to. But like I said, I’ve realized some things.

I think I was being too selfish from the beginning. God always has a funny way of calling me out. I brought some quick prayers to keep with me and some short phrases to help me make it through the days. One of them was, Be courageous, strong, and kind. For the most part, I think I maintained those. Although it hardly went noticed (or remembered), I believe I really did help others out in some of their most difficult times. Maybe this is why I was meant to go to field training. Looking back, I remember feeling more pain and desperation for others than for myself (even though it certainly wasn‘t easy for me).

Is it important to know just how and when you helped someone, especially if it was something huge for them? I don’t think so. I may never (and probably won’t) know to what extent I impacted my flight mates. But maybe that’s the point. It’s not about me. I think my big lesson of field training is that I’m not here for myself. I’m here to help others in anyway that I can. Even if that means getting in the bottom third for them. I was figuring it out, and I think me being in the bottom third let one of my friends make it into the middle. All of field training was worth that.

It saddened me to see people on the last day unhappy with their ranking, even though their ranking was fantastic. I tried to cheer them up by pulling out the list of goals we each made for ourselves during the first few days. I read mine, and remarkably, I accomplished all of them. For me, that was enough. Graduating (which almost didn‘t happen) was enough. I only hope one day they will see that the things they accomplished too, are enough. So overall field training was an experience I needed to have. I believe I am a better person, if for no other reason that I can put up with a lot of awful things, and still have “inner peace”, or something resembling it : )

I also wanted to make a list of some others things I learned at field training:
A lot of people depend on you
How to choke someone until they pass out
Shoot a M9
How to hold my bladder for two hours after waking up
I don’t really mind using port-a-potties anymore
How to tell if I’m dehydrated
Sunsets look like “blood, sweat and tears” to some people
How to eat an entire meal, and drink at least 24oz of fluids in under 10 minutes
Stand up for 6 hours straight
Answer trick questions
How to keep going when every fiber in my body wants to stop

It truly is remarkable what you can do when you have to, or at least you believe you have to. All strength and courage come from God. Praise His name!!

Well rounded ain't good enough (Field Training Part 2)

In regards to the rest of field training I am going to break up what happened into two more posts, consisting mainly of complaining (word of warning). But in the past few days a few things dawned on me, and I realize I shouldn’t look back on it with such a hateful attitude. This post is going to be about how field training was supposed to help me learn things about myself. However, all the things I “learned” there were already things I knew, but just hoped weren’t true. So hopefully I’ll keep the complaining short, and get on to how I should remember field training (see next post).

Basically my final evaluation, which everyone receives the last day of training, perfectly summed up what I had suspected about myself for years, but that I has told myself wasn't totally true. Apparently, they are. My first affirmation of insignificance was my flight commander telling me he couldn’t remember me being vice flight commander (which is NOT a good thing). Instantly I thought: “I was the first one! How could you forget?!” He expanded his thought by telling me of all the people he could remember (in my opinion, because they were so obnoxious), and how not being able to remember me led him to the conclusion I must not have done too good of a job.

Ok, so I’ve heard, and experienced, that before. Yes, I was a little upset, but it wasn’t anything I could change at the end. I can’t improve memories. But the next thing he said actually hurt my feelings. It was the only thing to really bother me there, even after all the insults, getting yelled at, dealing with immature and rude boys and really ridiculous situations.

Reading Ross’ and CeeCee’s posts recently kind of inspired me to want to talk about all the troubles I had at field training. It’s kinda funny how many different ways a person can view a single topic. I find it fascinating hearing explanations of varying viewpoints, and then figuring out where I fit into all of them. But anyway, time for some background again.

Looking back on my childhood, it seemed like I tried everything at least once, if not five times. Gymnastics, soccer, swimming, horseback riding, sailing, science camps, pottery classes, the list goes on and on. And although I think it’s great I have a very wide background of all sorts of things, which often helps with talking to people I’ve just met, I always wonder why none of these interests have ever “stuck”. Like swimming. I love to swim, so why wasn’t I on a team in high school, or why don’t I go swimming regularly anymore? My only conclusion (or the only one that I would accept) was that I didn’t like it enough. The other conclusion, lurking in the back of my brain, was that I was never good enough to keep involved with it. I think I’m pretty much the epitome of “well rounded”. It’s that phrase you want to be for a “great” college resume. But why couldn’t I be great at one thing?

So fast forward to that same final evaluation. To sum up why I had been placed in the bottom third of the cadets in my flight, and maybe also to explain it to himself, my flight commander (who had already told me I wasn’t a ‘bottom third cadet’ and that I was the hardest person to place) explained how the thirds break down. He said the top third are cadets who are great at multiple things such as marching, physical activities, and public speaking. Middle third cadets are great at one thing, like standardization. Bottom third cadets normally, however, can’t be identified as being excellent at one particular thing. He told me that I was “really good” at almost everything, but I wasn’t an expert at anything, and that’s why he ended up placing me in the bottom, even though it was a “tough decision”.

And it was right there. My nagging suspicions deemed real right before me. I was done with that evaluation, and with field training (although I was already really done with it). At the time I was so upset I had to force myself to not think about it. But I have since then, and have somehow managed to make myself feel better. While it’s true I’m not great at a lot of things, looking back, the things I have become “great at” are the things I’ve been paid to do. Skipping the examples and going to the conclusion, I will be paid to do my job in the Air Force (whatever that job may be) and I have no doubts that I won’t become an expert at it.

But it still bothers me.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Proving Yourself with Competition (Field Training Part 1)

I’m going to recap field training, and to avoid making this the absolutely longest post among already long posts, I’ll break why it was so miserable into three sections. I do hope these are the last time I speak of this at any great length.

First, I’ll start off with what I most feared about field training. Hmmm, so maybe first I’ll try to explain how my mind works, if that is even possible. I have a very dramatic dialogue going on in my head almost constantly (which may sometimes translate onto my face). (This is serious by the way.) I view my life as dramatic, eventful episodes and I like doing this because it’s easier for me to remember events, and how I felt about them at the time. In fact, I make a conscience effort to remember what I thought about something at this moment in time if I know it’s really important. For instance, growing up I placed these “markers” at key events so I could remember them when my children are at that age, or going through similar situations. I would carve in my brain what happened, how I felt, and what I thought my parents should have done in the situation. I know it sounds strange, but I really do this. I have no clue if I’ll use any of it when I am a parent, but I think it’s good to have.

So anyway, I prayed and prayed that my issues with the military wouldn’t be so “in my face” there. And of course they were. The “military mind-set” consists of having to prove yourself over and over again, and always being in competition with everyone around you. I guess it makes sense. “Show me what you can do.” “We only want the best.” Yeah, it sounds like what you would want from the military, but I only slightly agree with it. About a year ago, I had a “dramatic episode” of feeling like no matter what I did, I was never going to be enough. I would never be strong enough, smart enough, funny enough for pretty much every area of my life. It was starting to crush me. So what did I do? What I always do. Make a decision about how I felt about it, and burn it into my brain so I can combat those thoughts as soon as they appeared again. I decided I should never need to prove anything to anyone. I looked at my truest relationships. Have I ever had to prove anything to my mom? No. Have I needed to prove my friendships to my real friends? No. Have I ever needed to prove something to God? Just the sound of that makes me think it’s totally ridiculous! So why then do I need to prove something to anyone else? The only person that may ever need proving to is yourself, and that works a whole lot differently. I decided from then on, that I would no longer try to prove myself.

I didn’t know that that would be so hard to do! What is a job interview? Proving yourself with weak words. A test is also almost like proving what you know. But in field training, it becomes a whole new beast. The whole reason you are there is to basically prove yourself. Every second of every day, you’re “evaluated” for leadership. And I totally understand why they did everything they did. I got the point of it all. But really, field training is not real life. Leadership can’t be evaluated in a bubble, with extremely manipulated situations, with people who are only doing what they are doing because they know every move is being watched. No one’s life will ever solely consist of the Air Force the way it does in field training. So it was set up in order that I may prove myself. And you know what? I tried to leave behind what I took on as a truth of mine (which, I realized, is impossible) and attempted to prove myself. I have never tried harder in my life.

In field training you have at least three leadership evaluation forms done on you while you are in clearly defined leadership roles. I had my required three when I was the first vice flight commander, during a scenario where I had to get my people and equipment across “a river” with only rope and boards, and when I teamed up with another flight to camouflage a bunker. Honestly I impressed myself with how I handled things, and what I accomplished. My flight commander (the one who does the evaluations), however, never saw it the same way and my highest evaluation was “high satisfactory”. There are five categories, three of them passing. Unsatisfactory, Marginal, Satisfactory, Excellent, and Outstanding. Although I wasn’t disappointed with it (because I knew I did everything I could), it just showed me that I won’t be enough sometimes, which only made me want to fall back to what I already believed: that I shouldn’t try to prove anything.

That in combination with the constant competition and being ranked in the flight and having to rank everyone just chipped away at me. If we are supposed to be a team, why does someone need to be labeled “The Best”? I also see the value in competition as well. It does make you strive to be better and can push you to accomplish things you never though you could. But it also divides. In fact, with something as important as your field training rank, it divided so much that I felt I was on a reality show, where I had to make alliances and watch everything I said and did around everyone, because they may be able to use it against me. It sucked because I felt I couldn’t trust anyone. Friendly competition can only stay friendly so long. And I also believe that personal competition will always do more harm than good. These thoughts have only been strengthened at field training. Also, competition can make you feel inadequate when no matter what you do, you can’t “beat” someone else. There’s also lots of problems I see with it from a religious standpoint, but I won’t go into that right now.

So I was really hoping I could catch a break from these looming ideas. But instead, they were only pounded into our heads more. I felt like they were attempting to brainwash me. And for about a week after I got back, I still thought people were watching my every move and judging it on whether I was “a good leader”, and “made the right decision”. Thankfully, I think I’ve broken out of that.