Beast mental prep

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by clamelken2, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. clamelken2

    clamelken2 Member

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    For those who have gone through beast, or have any helpful advice. How should new cadets prepare mentally for beast? How should we approach it, and how do you make it through the daily grind?
     
  2. Hoffy600

    Hoffy600 Member

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    I'd like to know too. During the long and empty days of summer (between workouts, of course) I get to thinking... how do I approach this???
     
  3. DrMom

    DrMom Member

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    So, here is the drill...
    I went to the Naval Academy...no jeers...before you were born, in the stone ages when women were new to the service academies.
    What you do is this. Remember that you were chosen--you competed against tens of thousands of people and you were chosen because a lot of successful people who are very good at picking new cadets and future Army officers recognized that you have what it takes: academically, mentally, morally and physically. They put their faith in you because your life to this moment demonstrates that you have it within you to succeed.
    Remember that always.
    Sometimes it is going to suck. Some people will say, "Embrace the Suck" but I think that is meaningless. Being hot, being tired and being yelled at are not fun. You will get rained on and be miserable sometimes.
    The secret might be--what worked for me in the stone ages--was to look around and think, "I can do this" (and really, I am five foot nothing and tiny like a fairy and not a great athlete--I was a cheerleader (!) so it was often a challenge just to carry the heavy loads and take large enough steps to stay in formation and do PT in the morning--which is a special Hell at Annapolis--and the secret is literally you look at the person to your left and the person to your right and think, "I can do this." And then you just keep doing it.
    Also, it is not all terrible. You will bond with your roommates/squad in ways that you have not related to anyone in your life up until this minute (unless you went through basic training). You are going to learn really cool and useful things--like first aid and land navigation--which is awesome. I cannot speak for where you are going--but where I went we sometimes did ridiculous things--like rapid change of uniform formations or piling up our "lifeboats" (a.k.a. mattresses) and spending three hours one evening doing carrier landings. (Of course, when these "fun" sessions were over, we had 10 minutes to make our beds to inspection standard and to get our uniforms hung and ready for inspection.

    However, if you get to the point that you are just miserable and you want to quit. DO NOT QUIT. Remember--there are 17,000 people that wanted your slot. Remember--you only have to do it for six weeks. SIX WEEKS. When someone is yelling at you, just use your ma'ams and sirs and remember that the person yelling at you is simply doing their job and that two summers ago, they were you getting yelled at.

    You were picked for this because you are excellent. When you are finished, you will be able to say, "This was hard and I did it."

    You can also watch videos--but I think it might be better to just go with it and not over think it.

    Good luck. See you on R-Day.
     
  4. clamelken2

    clamelken2 Member

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    Thanks so much for the great advice. I also heard that we shouldn't take what the cadre say personally, they are just trying to make us into the best officers in the world :thumb:
     
  5. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I've posted this in the past, but I'll repost now for the benefit of anyone who might find it the least bit beneficial. I penned this seven years ago for two kids I knew who were going to Beast. One is aviator now, just back from OEF, and the other is an engineer. I personally believe that my advice is directly responsible for none of their successes.

    I edited and updated it a bit. Take it all for what it's worth. They say free advice is worth every penny...



    You are about to embark upon the great crusade (apologies to GEN Eisenhower). So this is it. You're packing the bags, maybe running one more time, saying goodbye to friends and loved ones, and generally freaking out at the prospect of starting this new life. Good. It's part of the system, and it has served many graduates well.

    I've thought a lot about my experiences in Beast. (Twelve years later, I still do.) I thought perhaps I could help you to some great degree - be the wise Grad whose littany of mistakes could somehow come in handy for you as you traverse the threshold from high school kid to cadet. As I reflect on it, though, I now think that Beast is something you own, and everyone's experience will be tailored to wear on them in the spots that need work.

    I was a very egotistical but very scared New Cadet. In my mind, I was one of the best. There was nothing I couldn't do. Then the bell rang and reality came out swinging. I discovered there was a multitude of things I was terrible at. From personal relationships to the first APFT, I was sucking wind in a lot of areas. For the life of me, I couldn't understand it. I was a three-sport athlete, at the top of my class, accepted very early via an LOA in August. I thought I was going to be the poster child for West Point. After two days, I felt more like the dumb kid who had to be seatbelted on the school bus than a potentially successful future officer.

    You, too, will fail. You'll be told you're a screwup. Maybe your platoon leader will tell you your attitude sucks. Maybe the XO will give you some "special attention." Maybe you'll lose your rifle card 5 minutes after they give it to you, and your Tac Officer will find it. Maybe all of that will happen to you, as it did for me. Take heart in knowing that it's a part of the system, and that you are not the first person to make whatever mistake you might have made. If you doubt that, tell yourself that I probably made that mistake, too, and you'll most likely be right.

    Despite my potentially skewed views on life, West Point, and the world in general, I thought I would nevertheless boil down the essence of Beast survival into three tips, as I see it. Remember, of course, that in those days the uniforms were green, the boots were black, the rifles were long, and everything was as hard as it ever could have been and the Corps has become leaps and bounds easier since the day I left (or that is how each grad views the institution in his or her own mind )...

    1. Never feel truly sorry for yourself. The number one killer of the mind in situations like that is self-pity. Ask anyone who's been to Ranger or SERE or a SOF assessment. Self-pity leads to a whole nest of destructive thoughts that you as a young man or woman of recognized potential have no business wasting your time on. When you do start to feel sorry for yourself, remember that 9 kids are working at Taco Bell this summer so you could have that slot. Remember that there are kids your age deployed for a 12-month tour. Most of all, remember that you were chosen for a reason. You have demonstrated the ability to succeed. So shut out the bad thoughts, wipe away the tears, and go succeed. I advise you against these thoughts because self-pity was my forte.

    2. Never fail your squadmates and your roommate. If one of you is screwed up, everyone else needs to screw themselves up to match, provided you can't fix the screwup on the one guy first. Don't ever leave your buddies dangling. Servant leadership starts with the idea that you are the last man on the totem pole by choice. Listen to the differences in people. Your squad will be a mix of race, religion, and origin. Love them all like brothers, even the ubiquitous screwup. The role of the screwup changes from day to day, and more than once that screwup will be you. You'll want your squadmates to grab you by the hand and pull you along when you need it. You had best be there for them when they need it, too.

    3. Never give in. Fight for every inch, because you are fighting for yourself and all the good things your country will ask of you. Push yourself that much harder. Do everything you can to make your family and yourself proud. As Solzhenitsyn tells us, "the bitter doesn't last forever." It's true, so make it count. You only get one life.

    Speaking of which, don't let your old life get in the way of your new one. I went to WP with a girlfriend of four years, very much in love. She's married now, and not to me. I'm married now, and not to her. I went as a selfish teenager, but I think I left as a decently generous adult. Don't fear the change. Embrace it. Worry about what you can change, forget about what you can't. (If you succeed at that, please tell me how.)

    In the words of Chief Dan George: "Endeavor to persevere." In the words of my good friend CPT Paul Pena, "keep on keepin' on." You all have what it takes. Someday, a decade later, you'll go to a Founder's Day dinner so that you can simply look back fondly with others who've shared the experience...and laugh.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2012
  6. linkgmr

    linkgmr Old Grad

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    Don't. Just take it as it comes. Show up in shape and try to roll with the punches.
     
  7. TheKnight

    TheKnight Class of 2014

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    The day before R-day I was told by an old grad: "Whatever you do, don't lose your sense of humor."

    Of all the advice and platitudes I could give to someone about to enter West Point, this is probably the one I would choose.

    Life at West Point is serious and it is something you should take to heart (if you don't you're doing it wrong).

    At the same time, mental survival is made much easier when you have a sense of humor. Be able to laugh at yourself and be able to laugh. Whatever you do or fail to do, always keep your sense of humor. Rather than complain about the circumstances, laugh at them. Rather than beat yourself up over your mistakes, laugh at them. Not because it's not serious, not because you should handle them in a manner fitting the deed, but because part of being mentally resilient is being able to step back from whatever situation you're in and laugh at it.

    I guarantee you that simple challenges and failures that seem like major mistakes in the present become jokes and cherished memories of you and your classmates later on down the road.

    Keep your sense of humor and, at least mentally speaking, you'll be alright.
     
  8. Swiper

    Swiper Member

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    The best advice I could give you is to get yourself in the teamwork mindset. You need to stop putting yourself first and start looking for the bigger picture.

    Part of this is "not screwing over your buddy". My cadre last year asked one of my squad mates to pick an exercise for our squad to do as punishment after one of our ruck marches. We were all exhausted, and she responded with "does anyone know what an 8 count body builder is?" and I swear it felt like the entire squad broke bearing for a second to glare at her with a "are you serious right now?" kind of look. Don't be that guy or girl- always look out for one another because it's you against the cadre.

    Second, be NICE, PATIENT, and ACCEPTING! I can't even tell you how important this is. Someone is going to need you and all you're going to want to do is laugh in their face. It will be pouring at 3:00 am in the woods, a half mile from the nearest porta-potty and some crazy squadmate will wake you up in the middle of the 3 hours of sleep you will be getting that night and ask you to be his buddy to go to the bathroom. I'll tell you what though, you had better say yes. That squadmate is going to be the only one to help you out on a run or a ruck or he'll end up being a Chemistry god during the academic year... Don't burn any bridges. There was one weird kid in our squad. I mean, REALLY weird... but I passed plebe math because of him. Everyone has something to bring to the table!

    Finally, don't let the upperclassmen make you scared, nervous, or upset. They are learning just as much as you are. I went to mock R-day two years ago and at the end of the exercise, the little blonde Sergeant that was about to rip my head off in the beginning of the day came running up to me all smiles eagerly asking, "so was I scary!?"... I just wanted to burst in to laughter.

    The morning of R-day you will be nervous, probably quiet and somewhat regretful if you were anything like me... Your survival instincts will kick in once those doors open though and you will realize that you just need to follow directions and take comfort in the fact that you are in this together with your classmates. Everyone has felt what you are and will be feeling, so stay positive. Best of luck!
     
  9. Art.Perea

    Art.Perea Member

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    I have not gone to beast yet, but the number one thing people keep telling me is to not take things personally. The cadre is there to teach you and turn you into a cadet, in a very harsh way.
     
  10. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I'm obviously also USNA . . . will pass along something the Chaplain told us on one of the first days that stuck with me, because it's true.

    Don't think about getting through to Recognition Day (or whatever USMA calls the end of plebe year). Don't think about getting through to winter break (the first time many will go home). Don't think about making it through to Parents' Weekend. Don't even think about making it through to the end of the week.

    Instead, focus on making it through the next hour. That's no more than 59+ minutes. Anyone can do that -- whatever you're doing isnt' THAT miserable. Then make it through to lunch and then to the end of the day. And do that the next day. And the next. And the next.

    And before you know it, four years (FOUR, not just one) is up. For those of use who've been through it, trying to psych yourself up for an entire summer is . . . hard. Trying to get through one hour at a time . . . piece of cake.

    So focus on trying to get through the first hour of reporting (if like USNA, mostly paperwork). That's not too tough. And then being issued a bunch of stuff while people direct you in a really loud voice. Still, not too tough. And then . . . you get the picture.:smile:
     
  11. timetocarrigan

    timetocarrigan Member

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    know your cadre's rank. you don't want to call someone sir or ma'am; they'll prefer SGT or MSG etc
     
  12. Myeri

    Myeri Banned

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    I have not tried yet
     

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