Bear with me.... In one of my first threads, I thought I’d have some fun and spice things up a bit with some colorful embellishments. Not this time. This time it’s serious. DAMNED serious. I’m posting this now so you will all have time to read it, ask questions, and get answers. I’ll be able to provide some, but I’m really hoping our resident current Mids chime in. So off we go… Well, here you are. It’s been a long, hard road, but you’re here. You have a right to feel proud of your accomplishments, and a right to be excited about the opportunities and challenges that now lay before you. Congratulations! Some of you already know what you’re going to do. Others don’t have a clue how to answer that aside from, “Wake up tomorrow morning, not having quit today.” Both answers are right and wrong, but you’ll figure that out for yourselves soon enough. You might be surprised by the answer you come up with. You are about to embark on a great and noble endeavor, one that will challenge you in ways you never dreamed you could be. You will have to dig deep into yourself to find the strength to keep going. The physical part is tough, but if a slug like me could do it, you can. The academic portion will be extremely challenging, but I’m no Einstein, and I managed. No, the toughest part is going to be finding the fascinating combination of patience and drive, tolerance and rage, relaxation and intensity, which you will need to have to make it through the place. Only one person can find that: YOU. You WILL be scared. We all were. It’s normal. Some of you will be away from home for the first time. Others will have years of college and/or military experience under their belts. Those of you who are stronger must help carry those who are weaker until they grow strong enough. There will be times when the roles are reversed. That’s what makes Academy Classmates so special, and completely unlike anything you will find at any other university, no matter how prestigious. For NAPSters it will be an even stronger bond. At your age, you think you will live forever. You won’t. Don’t make the mistakes that I did and allow wonderful opportunities to pass you by for temporary pleasures or conveniences. I would give my life to be able to attend USNA again knowing what I know now. You have no idea just how much you can do at this place, or how much you can learn, and not just about the Navy or Military. Take every opportunity. Enjoy everything you can possibly enjoy, and learn everything you can cram into your brain. Don’t be overly afraid of the upperclassmen. That wild-eyed, high-and-tight-wearing, muscles-the-size-of-Bournemouth-packing maniac chewing you out because you couldn’t remember the 6th General Order was standing right where you are only 24 months ago. If he can do it, or if this broken-down has-been typing this can do it, then why can’t you? Don’t make the mistake, as a Plebe or later as an upperclassman, of thinking that the Plebe System is a model of effective leadership. It isn’t. IMO, it’s one of the worst, but it serves its purpose, which is to weed out the weak. If you can’t handle someone yelling at you, how will you manage someone SHOOTING at you? Learn the lessons, then apply them when the time comes. You WILL screw up. Period. It happens. Don’t be afraid of failure for failure’s sake. Instead, fear having failed because you didn’t give it your all, or because you quit. The upperclassmen and your classmates will admire and respect someone who fails but didn’t quit, over someone who quit, and therefore never found out if he would have succeeded. It’s a lesson that will serve you well in life. Speaking of life, forget the one you had. Sure, you’ll still have your family, and even some friends from High School, but the life they will be leading will be so different than what you are going through that they will not be able to relate. Your parents will try (cut them some slack, you’re their kid), and your former friends will encourage you (if they’re not too busy getting smashed), but the ones to look to on a day-to-day basis are those other bald, skinny, scared, sweating, smelly kids around you wearing that ridiculous blue-rimmed Dixie cup with you. THEY are your support mechanism now. You have earned the right to be there. You will be told otherwise, but the FACT is you worked your butt off to get this appointment. SO what are you prepared to do about it? Are you going to succeed, or are you going to join that company where they house the quitters, the ones that no one respects, and no one is allowed to speak to? The ones you see eating in King Hall in silence, unbothered by the upperclassmen, while the rest of the class continues pushing forward as a team? Like I said in the thread title, I’m rambling. The problem is that I’m sitting here, remembering what it felt like to be on the verge of finally becoming a Midshipman, and also remembering everything that you are about to go through, and the incredible shock I felt when I saw the difference, and the urge to scream out “Wait! LISTEN! It’s DIFFERENT than they told you! WAKE UP! This is not a GAME!” becomes irresistible. Maybe I’ll add some more later when my brain is on a better track than it is now. In short: Congratulations. You CAN do it. Never, EVER, quit. Don’t miss opportunities presented to you. This is not a game. That is all.