COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- I have always been competing with my father.
Let me clarify. By competing, I have always been setting expectations for myself based on the accomplishments my father has done in his lifetime. Some people may think this is an odd ambition, especially because I am a girl. A lot of people have even told me I’m odd for even trying to compare myself to him, because “what’s the point?”
How does a small-in-stature Army brat who joined the Air Force through ROTC compare herself to an E-1 to O-6 Army Ranger who also happened to have served as a SWAT team leader (among other things) in the FBI? Did I mention he’s been juggling both careers for more than 20 years?
I don’t know if there is a way to compare the two of us, really. There probably won’t be until I’m a lot older. However, since I was old enough to think ‘this guy is a super-human,’ my goal has been to surpass him.
I’ve used just about every chapter of my life to test my abilities against that of my father’s, to prove I could do just as much as he had at my age, if I really wanted to.
If he had good grades in high school, I could have them too. If he played varsity sports, I could play varsity sports. If he sang and danced competitively, I could sing. . . and as much as I wish I could say danced it would probably offend real dancers, but you understand my point.
I derived my accomplishments and milestones through the steps he had laid out in front of me and I had chosen to pursue. Naturally, seeing him spend his years dedicated to his role as an officer (I didn’t come around until he was a fresh, young captain), I had to pursue a life in the military as well.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t something I did on a whim. My entire life has been coordinated with a career with the military in mind. I grew up with such an overwhelming respect for the people who serve, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. The military was my plan A, and I didn’t have a plan B.
‘No plan B? People should have a plan B,’ some may be thinking. Yes, logically I understand there was never a guarantee I wouldn’t have something keeping me from a commission, or even an enlistment. Not to mention, there are a million jobs on the planet, why deal with the military, the uniforms, the deployments and the instability?
Because I have a passion for what being in the military means. And never once did I feel, as a military brat, I was serving the way everyone always told me I was. I understood what people meant, and never would I ever discredit the family members who serve at home, but I could not imagine letting my childhood be my only time serving. That wasn’t enough for me.
Also, let’s not forget I have a lifelong goal of measuring up to my father; I’m just lucky to have had passions that aligned with his.
Originally, the plan was to achieve officer the way my father had. Enlistment then pursuing a degree through the G.I. Bill; however, I was able to pick up the pace through an Air Force scholarship straight out of high school. A paper on my life as a military brat and my competitive extra-curricular activities sure helped me out with that one (thanks dad).
After a few years of college, I arrived here. Finally living the dream that only could have been possible for me to conjure with the example I’ve had in my life.
I’ve always tried to compete with my dad, and I thought I was well on my way to catching up after I commissioned, but in reality I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the things in my life without him as my example.
My father may have not been there for every birthday or holiday, but he and the military have crafted the person I am to this day, and I’ve kept him with me as a reminder of who I want to be in my career, every competitive step of the way.