I hated my last job. I resented my micromanaging boss. I was struggling to maintain my family of three on my one paycheck. I had been applying for other opportunities but wasn’t getting past the “thank you for your interest” emails.
I needed to make a change and began to ponder the military as an option. In high school, it never occurred to me not to go straight to college. I had academic scholarships to cover the costs of higher education, so the tuition benefits weren’t an incentive for me. Besides, I just never envisioned myself serving. My grandfather served in World War II. My father served in Vietnam. My aunt was active duty in the Army but I still did not consider it as a career for myself.
To be honest, it also would not have occurred to me as an eighteen-year-old that I wouldn’t be fit for service. I thought I was smart enough to do anything. Looking back, I realize that intelligence would have only got me so far. I was too emotionally immature and just downright too emotional to have survived boot camp. But almost two decades later I was willing to put my grit and mental fortitude to the test.
But I had waited too long. I was too old to enlist in any branch. I was too old for both active and reserve duty. Plus, I had to face it: I was too fat and too out of shape.
I’d like to say that I had an epiphany at that moment. That I realized that, even though I could not pursue the military as a career, I became motivated to get my body in better physical condition. Maybe it did for a short period of time but it didn’t stick.
But since it is Veterans’ Day, I’m thinking again what it means to be fit to serve. Let’s say one of the branches is looking for a few good forty-one-year-old women. I would not meet the weight requirements. But, because I’m forty-one, I’m not going to let a number on the scale determine my worth.
The problem is not my weight but that I literally cannot pull my own weight. I could not do a pull to save my life. Or that of someone else.
Until I can pull my own weight and run like my life (or someone else’s) depends on it, I must rely on the men and women who serve in the armed forces to protect me when the going gets tough. And I have relied on those who served in the past. So, thank you. Thank you to every veteran. Thank you to those still serving. Thank you for being and staying fit so I could stay safe. Your strength and endurance are traits I aspire to.
Keeping my blog in shape by posting every day in November.