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If you were getting ready to graduate high school, what would you do? More Questions


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I had an interesting discussion just a while ago with one of 17yods' friends who has been staying with us. He told me that he is thinking of joining the military because he doesn't know what else to do. Like ds, he will be graduating this May.

 

I remember how much pressure those last few months leading up to graduation can be! Kids, especially boys it seems, feel the need to have the rest of their lives figured out right now. They don't want to be working the same dead end job they worked through highschool and making minimum wage a month after they graduate.

 

Of the kids that are college bound, so many have no real idea why they are going to college; they just feel that is what is expected or what will give them a better future.

 

The military draws a lot of the kids who are not college bound. Some of those kids may really have a desire to join the military (and some may join for the college benefits), but many are drawn to it because they feel the need to make some sort of decision. It seems to me that rather than making a decision, some are just avoiding making a decision about their lives for the next four years by handing that decision making power over to someone else.

 

This is not a slam against the military! I have a lot of respect for people who serve in our military. I just don't think it is a decision to enter into lightly or for lack of knowledge of what other options there might be. If you join the military, you should know you want to be there and you should be prepared for the possibility of being sent into very dangerous places to do very ugly things.

 

There's more to the friend's story. Ds' situation is a little different. He's said he wanted to be a Marine for so long, I think he feels he can't go back now even though he seems to be wavering in his decision.

 

With that background, let me ask you all a few questions.

 

1) If you were young, single, and free what would you do?

 

2) If all of the above applied and you didn't have a clue where your life was going or what you wanted to do, what would you do? What would be a good plan for figuring out what you want to do?

 

3) What would you tell your children if they were in the same position?

 

Now, I'll tell you what I told ds' friend.

 

I told him entering into the military could be a good choice, but it was not a decision to make lightly. He'd better be darned sure that's what he wants to do for the next four years and that he is willing to do whatever it is he is told to do.

 

I also told him that if I was graduating high school in a few months and didn't know what I wanted to do, I would probably travel. I would work odd jobs to get me from one place to the next and I would go places I've always wanted to go and try different things. Safely and legally of course. I told him now is the time to do these things, before he has a family and a career and responsibilities.

 

He of course wanted to know how you could do that. He wanted to know what kind of jobs, where would you sleep (spend all your money on hotels or sleep on park benches?), how you could make sure you would have food to eat. Well, I don't know. I never did it. I got married almost straight out of high school and started having kids. So, maybe I know a whole lot of nothin', but that's what I would do if I was back at that time and place in my life and dh was not in the picture. Maybe that's foolish.

 

I'll add two more questions.

4) Does anyone know how a young person could do this?

5) Have you ever done something similar, and what are your experiences?

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He could save some money and take the fall to travel. What I did for a year was work in NJ most of the year and Florida for a few months in the winter on a fishing boat. I almost took a job bringing boats built in Florida to their owners who lived along the eastern seaboard, but I got a full time job instead. I had a brother who traveled around the country working on commercial fishing boats, from MA to FL. He would just show up at the docks or the local watering hole looking for work when he needed money.

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1) If I were young, single and free, I would go to medical school to become a surgeon.

 

2) I was in that position at the end of high school. If I had to do it over again, NOT with what I know now, at a moment of indecision, with all viable options seeming to be equal, and not having a clue what I wanted to do, I would just pick something because, even if it was the wrong thing, it would eventually lead me to the right thing.

 

That's gotta be the longest sentence I've ever written. Hope I put all the commas in the right places.

 

The only reason I didn't join the Marines after high school (I looked into it seriously) was that I was too afraid I wouldn't make it through basic training -- it looked way beyond my physical capabilities.

 

3) I would not tell my kids to join the military because I'm afraid they would get killed there.

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When my dh graduated high school, he started working on an offshore oil rig (excellent money, great benefits). Because he worked two weeks and was off two weeks, he could travel, take side jobs, etc. during his two weeks off. He basically struck off for anywhere he wanted to go, doing things that would have terrified me at 18. He also did some work as a skilled carpenter, (a good job if you're a fast learner, you can work your way up and gain skills at the same time) a delivery man for an antique auction house, and even took a position for one year as a manager/supervisor of a sandpaper manufacturing plant whe he was 22/23 (very young for such responsibilty).

 

He did some heavy drinking during this time, blew some serious money, and had a great time. He also did a lot of growing up, decided what he wanted out of life, and came back home (and back to school) a man instead of an immature boy. We met and were married about a year after his return home, he did excellently in college, and attended law school. He doesn't regret the time he spent being wild and free, but in hindsight often says he wished he had gone into the Marines, gotten the years towards retirement, served his country, and gotten his college tuition for free.

 

This is not to say that the military is for everyone. My baby brother is a career Marine and loves it. It really made him grow up and take responsibility for himself; however, his best friend joined the Army and hated every minute of it, got out after his time was done, and hasn't looked back.

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I would go to Honduras and serve others there for a few years.

 

Or I would go to the Christian Appalachian Project and spend a year or two there.

 

If my dc don't have any idea what they want to do when they graduate, this is what I will suggest - go serve somewhere while you easily can.

 

If they want that to be the military, then so be it, but I would NOT consider that the default option because you don't know what else to do. If they wanted to join because they *wanted to join* then that is different.

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I'm really enjoying reading the answers y'all have, and I'm hoping more will chime in. I know ds and his friend both feel overwhelmed with the choices that are looming ahead. I think some of these ideas may help them brainstorm and figure things out a little. Thank you so much--and please, keep the answers coming!

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If I had to do it over again, I would have traveled overseas. When I was in college, I had an opportunity to study in Austria for a year, but decided not to do it b/c of the money.

 

While I do not advocate going into debt, looking back, I would have taken a loan for the mere $3000 it cost at the time.

 

Now, I'm older and would like to travel the world, but life, finances, etc. makes it difficult.

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If I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed home with my mom and went to college. Instead, I moved out just before I turned 18 and then married 3 months later. I could have had the security of home and explored my options and travel would have definitely been a wise thing...but it is hard to know what to do when you are 18. It is hard to think things are possible at that age when there is no family money and everyone is in survival mode. I hope to have the circumstances to encourage and help ds to explore the world a bit and defintely NOT marry young.

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