The funny thing is, I don’t remember exactly what prompted it. I’d been unhappy with my job nearly since I started it, which had only been a couple of months prior.
In May 1998, I graduated from a tiny liberal arts university with a degree in music history and pondered my future from Dad’s apartment in San Antonio. I was such an emotional wreck at that time that I basically slept 12 hours a day and spent my waking hours limiting my movement to a triangle between the couch, the computer, and the kitchen.
Fast forward a little less than 3 years. After some job hopping and a failed relocation, I found myself living with Dad again. Fortunately, I’d managed to build enough skills and experience that I found a job without too much difficulty.
Unfortunately, that job was doomed from the get-go. My work day consisted of answering the phone and occasionally making copies on an outdated machine. Since those things weren’t actually enough to keep me occupied for 8 hours a day, I spent a lot of time messing around on the Internet.
I asked myself, is this my life? I realized that if I didn’t do something radical, underpaid and underappreciated administrative work would be my life.
I’d toyed with the idea of joining the military for a while. With my education and experience, I figured it was either that or law school. This was before the legal job market tanked, so law school would have been a viable career move for me. However, I didn’t actually want to become a lawyer. It would have just been another means of escape.
But if I joined the military as a musician, I reasoned, I could at least do something with my music. If I liked the military, I could make a career of it. If I didn’t, I could get a steady paycheck for 4 years and then use veterans’ education benefits to improve my job prospects.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t remember what prompted me to take the plunge. But I remember thinking that I couldn’t handle another minute of that job without making a plan for something better. I pulled up the Marine Corps’ recruiting site and filled in my contact information. Why the Marine Corps? Because I figured if I was going the military route, I might as well go all out.
I thought it would take a few days for the message to get through the system and reach the recruiting station closest to my home. As it turned out, a recruiter called me the next day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the message until that evening, so I figured I’d return the call on my lunch break the following day.
Around 9:00 that following morning, I got a text message from the recruiting station, so I figured I’d call them on my morning break at 10:15. I called and spoke to the recruiter who had left a message for me.
“Can you come in today?” he asked me.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m at work till 5:00, and it’s across town, so I might not make it there before 6:00.”
He didn’t miss a beat. “We’ll wait.”
“OK, I’ll come in today.”
Thus began my path to joining the Marine Corps. While my enlistment had its ups and downs, I learned how to take care of myself and expanded my perception of what I was capable of. I also got the money to further my education. Sometimes you have to shake things up in a radical way.
Have you ever made a quick decision that turned out to be life-changing? Let’s talk about it in the comments!