Emotions of a Cadet

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Christcorp, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    I usually post this right before basic training and again around recognition day. But someone asked about it recently, so I figured I'd write it now. I was going to piggyback off of "Daretodream's" post of the first year; but that was such a nice thread, I didn't want to take away from it.

    Any of you with appointments, you might want to read this. Maybe it will help keep things in perspective. Best of luck..... Mike.......

    ********************************************************************
    EMOTIONS OF A CADET:

    1) Get accepted to the academy: EMOTION: HELL YEA!!!!!
    2) I-Day: EMOTION: Why do I feel like I'm going to puke?
    3) 1st half of BCT: EMOTION: Well, at least I'm not the only one who looks lost. Please look at someone else besides me. PLEASE!!!!
    4) 2nd half of BCT (Jack's): EMOTION: This ain't so bad. This part is pretty fun. GOD, I'm so tired. What the hell did I get myself into???? Please let me sleep!!!!
    5) Last week of BCT: EMOTION: I'm almost there. This is the hardest part. After this, the rest of the academy will be a breeze. (Delusional thoughts. Probably the lack of oxygen and sleep)
    6. A-Day: EMOTION: YES! I'm really a cadet now. All the others will respect me now. (More lack of oxygen and definite lack of sleep)
    7. Classes Start: EMOTION: What? Who? Where? When? ARGGGGG!!! MY HEAD HURTS.
    8. Mid-term: EMOTION: Holy crap! What if I forget? What if I fail? What will my parents think? Can I get kicked out for this? ARGGGGG!!!! Head Still Hurts
    9. Thanksgiving break: EMOTION: Yes!!! Out of this place! Do I really want to come back? State U looks really good right now. My friends at home seem pretty happy. What about me????
    10. Back to school getting ready for finals: EMOTION: This sucks!!! I don't need this crap!!! I can transfer my credits and go to another school. God why am I doing this???
    11. Finals Finished Christmas Break: EMOTION: PEACE and GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN!!!! Yea, it sucks here, but that's 1 semester down and 7 more to go. Put this place out of my mind.
    12. Return to academy: EMOTION: Take a deep breath. New Room Mates; Cool. Different classes. Cool. Still cold and dark a lot. That sucks. Well, I guess I can give it one more semester. See what happens.
    13. R-DAY: EMOTION: I really AM a Cadet now. They actually DO RESPECT me. "At least a little bit". OK; it could be worse.

    REPEAT STEPS 7-12; seven more times. Throw in a spring break before the end of #2,4,6,and 8. Throw a Summer break prior to 3,5, and 7. Stamina grows stronger each semester. See the light at the end of the tunnel. Every couple of days remember how much this place sucks. Every OTHER couple of days remember that this place ain't so bad. Every once in a while realize that this place is pretty cool. ALWAYS REMEMBER WHY YOU WANTED TO COME HERE AND WHAT YOUR GOAL IS.


    Good luck to all cadets and appointees. Congrats to the C4C who were just recognized. Mike....
     
  2. dreamusafa

    dreamusafa Member

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    Thank you, Christcorp for reposting. I saved last year posting for when my DS will start the application process next year.
     
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  3. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Bump. Just bumping every couple of weeks.

    Mike
     
  4. Zoomie90

    Zoomie90 Member

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    "Every couple of days remember how much this place sucks. Every OTHER couple of days remember that this place ain't so bad. Every once in a while realize that this place is pretty cool. "

    Thanks Christcorp, this is great and so true-- and as time progresses, the frequency of This Place Sucks, becomes less and less (never goes away completely) and the frequency of This Place is Cool! actually starts to occur almost on a daily basis.
     
  5. Daretodream

    Daretodream Member

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    I love this thread. Last year, I printed it and read it to my DS and then read it again to him the night before I Day.
     
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  6. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Obviously, each cadet handles the place a little differently. But most do experience these emotions. Especially the ones in BCT. So many have had second thoughts after a few days or weeks. And the second thoughts continue into the academic year. But in time, you get use to it. I remember basic training like it was yesterday. Then I woke up one day..... and I RETIRED from the military. And even though I'm no longer on active duty, most of what I am, has been influenced by my 20 years in the Air Force. The Navy use to say: "It's not just a job, it's an Adventure". Well seriously, "At least for the career military", it's not just a Job...... It's a way of life. It's what you are.... who you are.... what you believe.... etc.

    So, as long as you keep looking at end of the tunnel.... WHY you applied and are at the academy. What your long rang goals are. Then whether your plans are to do 5 years and get out or try for 20+ years; Basic Training and the Academy will make much more sense to you and be easier to deal with.

    PERSPECTIVE & RELATIVITY.
     
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  7. Daretodream

    Daretodream Member

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    Good points. My DS went to USAFA for a great education and chance to chase him dreams as a fighter pilot and astronaut. After BCT he became much more focused on the military career aspect of the SA. He joined Honor Guard and learned to understand the importance and obligations of leading those who serve our country. He still dreams of flying, but soon after BCT his goals and plans changed quite a bit.

    A lot of the emotions you described came through in letters and conversations. However, it is the bond of fellow Cadets and role of those at the SA that seem to make him love being there. Great post that is worth the read to every prospective Cadet and parent before BCT. My DS now feels sure BCT was the easiest thing he has done at USAFA.
     
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  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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  9. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator 10-Year Member

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    You know...on June 25th, 1979...I thought the place where I'd lived since 1973 sucked pretty badly...

    It was a struggle for four years...the Dean (BGen Bill Orth, who I'd know all those years as a neighbor) was my enemy...and I barely, BARELY, survived...and then on 1 June 1983, I along with 950 or so others took our salute, graduated, and pressed on.

    NOW...oh...were there any bad days? Hmm...fading memories...I remember all the good...okay, and the bad...but...oh what an experience! I'd redo it in a heartbeat; all of it, the good and the bad, for the experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity of excellence that you'll miss the rest of your life!!

    Steve USAFA Report Day June 25 1979.JPG
    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83


    PS...this is me the day I reported...first (and only) time in my life I haven't had short hair...courtesy of working on a 51' ketch all spring and summer in the Bahamas.
     
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  10. greentrees

    greentrees 5-Year Member

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    And I often tack this onto a thread so that when the parent gets the "I'm not sure this is the right place for me" letter or phone call, they have these words of wisdom I was sent when DS reported June 25, 2009. He's excited to pin on his railroad tracks on Monday!

    From Someone's Very Wise Mother

    1. If AFA is not for you, you have a home to come to if you leave. I will
    still love you and be as proud of you as I am today. However, you must not
    leave on a bad day, but a good one, and you must have a plan for your future
    education along with the means to support it so that you can realize your
    dreams. This should never be a frivolous decision because you have discovered
    all the 'crap' you have to deal with. Each day is different and has it stresses
    and fun.

    2. AFA has dealt with its share of scandals in the past few years, and many of
    the problems have stemmed from cadets drinking, both under aged and legally. I
    would want my son to understand that a bottle of beer or one too many, could end
    his dreams and it is never going to be worth it. Don't break my heart and
    destroy what you have been blessed with over alcohol.

    3. Life is not fair in the civilian world, and it seems more unfair in the
    military world, but don't ever let that deter you from your goals. You make
    things work for you and learn to suck up the stupid stuff.

    4. The right girl/guy for you will stick with you through thick and thin and
    support your choice as a cadet and be tolerant of what you have to deal with.
    The wrong girl/guy will ask you to give it all up for her/him with no regard for your
    ambitions.

    5. No matter what your peers do, it is up to you to make the right choice for
    yourself. Peer pressure is an excuse for the weak and you are in a leadership
    laboratory. Remember that.

    6. It's so much easier to follow the rules than it is to sweat getting caught
    if you break them, and not be able to concentrate on the important things in
    your present. BTW, you WILL get caught.

    7. Academics come first and foremost. You are there for the education, not to
    become the world's greatest boot shiner. Do everything to the best of your
    ability, but know the priorities for success at AFA.

    8. Time management is the best skill anyone can have, and it is one you must
    master at AFA, because they will stress you with too much to do in too little
    time. Each day seems to take forever, but the years fly by.

    9. Keep in touch with your family. I would love to get one or two minutes of
    your free time each week just to hear your voice.

    10. Be honest with me about what is happening for you. If you are stressed,
    having academic problems, need to vent, or whatever, I love you and will be
    there for you always. I will do all I can to help, even if it is just to listen
    to you rant.
     
  11. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    I've had 2 appointees/doolies who got a hold of me because they weren't sure they really wanted to stay at the academy. They were trying to get me to tell them that it was ok to quit. I told them the same thing I told both my son and daughter growing up.

    I don't believe in quitting. Everything has an end point or stopping point. Doesn't matter if it's football, baseball, a particular subject in school, martial arts, a job, college, or the academy. You see it through to an end point or stopping point.

    If you get on the football or baseball team and decide it's not for you, you don't quit. You finish out the season. If you still don't want to be on the team again next season, that's fine. But you don't quit in the middle. Same with the academy. If after basic training, you still don't want the academy, then you can consider quitting. But not in the middle of it. If you make it through and during the semester you don't think it's for you, then you finish the semester. You don't quit in the middle of it.

    In life, it's not all about YOU. Others rely on you. You have responsibilities. Even in a job. If you don't like it, you don't walk in and quit. You find a natural stopping point. After a project you're working on; after the job you were doing; X amount of weeks for the business to look for a replacement; etc.

    This is called integrity and ethics. Once you start quitting, it becomes habit forming. It becomes easier in the future to quit again. But sticking it out to a natural end point builds character. It builds work ethics. It makes you a responsible person. Plus, many times by sticking it out, you also realize that maybe it's not quite as bad as you thought. Maybe, you'll change your mind and decide to stay. If not, and you still want to leave, at least you can walk out with your self esteem realizing you gave it an honest try.

    Anyway..... the academy will be very challenging. The military is even more challenging. It's not for everyone. But it's definitely not for quitters. If you decide to accept an appointment, you should realize how much respect the military has for you to give you this opportunity. You owe them at least that much respect to see it through basic training, and then at least one semester of academics.

    Some will disagree with me. That's ok. I won't change my position on this. I spent 20 years in the Air Force and have seen many young men and women follow in after me. I've also worked a number of companies after retiring from the Air Force. I know what it looks like to be around people who have gotten "use" to quitting.

    Best of luck to all those appointees entering but in a couple weeks.
     
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  12. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Bump

    With only a few days left before BCT, I wanted to bump this back to the top. I'm hoping any appointees getting a little nervous about their new adventure, read this.

    In the year of applying to the academy, the applicants seem so sure of themselves. Parents see it as a natural progression they are going through. But about the first of JUNE; IT STARTS TO BECOME REAL!!!!! Appointees start second guessing. Parents start second guessing. Everyone gets so stressed out.

    My family is a military family. My son and daughter were born on military bases in 2 different countries. As a military family, we are VERY CLOSE. We learned to be each other's BEST FRIENDS. We only live 2 hours from the air force academy. So when the day came for "I-Day" we DROVE our son to the academy. Him, his older sister, me and momma. For 2 HOURS..... It was the QUIETEST day in our family's history. Not a word was spoken. We got there, had a little bit to each, got in the processing line, as soon as we hit the DMZ (Where the appointee continues on, but no one else can) we could only watch until he got on the bus to go to the cadet area. And the rest is HISTORY.

    I bring this up because; even as a MILITARY FAMILY, where my son was a BRAT for 10 years and my daughter for 13 years, even WE had a very difficult and emotional time. Maybe because as a family we did EVERYTHING TOGETHER, and now our son was doing something we couldn't be directly part of. Maybe that was it. I was definitely the most excited. But I remember basic training and the next 20 years. My son had his doubts. His sister had her doubts. Mom definitely had her doubts. But once they searched deep down, they knew why it was like it was. All was good.

    So appointees; hang in there. You are going to start one HELL of an Emotional Roller Coaster Ride. Parents...... Don't Over React to the situation. And don't panic when your son or daughter sends home letters that don't sound like "Summer Camp". They will be safe. And if they graduate BCT, you are going to notice a growth and maturity in those 6+ weeks when you see them; that most college kids take YEARS to develop.

    Remember; you're NOT the FIRST to go off to the academy. You won't be the LAST. The REWARD at the end of the tunnel is SO WORTH IT. This is why many of you turned down full ride scholarships

    Best of luck to all
    Mike
     
  13. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    "The day's are long but the weeks go by fast"!
     
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  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Final Bump

    I won't bump this again. As BCT starts, in case there's some in BCT or parents who are a little stressed out, and reading this forum; maybe this will come in handy. Basically; it's an emotional roller coaster. Don't sweat it. Tens of Thousands have been there BEFORE YOU. You are not the first person to go through this. You won't be the last. And there is NOTHING UNIQUE or SPECIAL about you or your situation at the academy compared to anyone else; current or in the past. Don't read into the training. It's not PERSONAL. The cadre DOESN'T HATE YOU. The academy isn't being mean.

    At the same time; this is NOT COLLEGE. And the academy doesn't have "SAFE SPACES" for you fragile little minds. The academy IS THE MILITARY. It is trying to make military leaders and officers. It is trying to take 17-18 year olds from ALL 50 states plus international locations; with 1200 different personalities and backgrounds; and find a way to make them find what they have IN COMMON and work TOGETHER as a TEAM. That usually means BREAKING DOWN your individuality. Finding the "LCD - Least Common Denominator" between the 1,200 of you; so you can concentrate on what you have in common; and WORK TOGETHER.

    This ISN'T COLLEGE. It's "THE MILITARY". Once you realize that, you'll do much better at BCT and the academy. If you think it's suppose to be college; then you'll have a chance to change your mind and pursue other educational interests. But the MAJORITY of the emotions described in my opening post in this thread, is because some people won't accept where they're at. Don't get me wrong. Even those who are gung-ho military, will have these emotions at the academy. The difference between those who HANDLE the emotions, and those who CAN'T HANDLE the emotions, depends on whether or not you can accept where you're at. "THE MILITARY".

    Best of luck
    Mike
     
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  15. BTCS/USN

    BTCS/USN Member

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    To add to Cristcorp's thoughts for the parents of new cadets. These young adults are high achievers who have proven themselves by managing to get accepted to a school most can't get into. Trust them to overcome the next year's obstacles as they overcame the ones growing to this point. They are more than capable of adapting to what ever gets put in their way. If they weren't, the academy wouldn't have called them up to the majors. Trust in the system. It's designed that way for a reason and considering the cost, No One Wants Them To Fail. Trust also that if you managed to be the ones that say goodbye and good luck on "I" day, that you have done an outstanding job of preparing them for this journey. Bravo Zulu Mom and Dad. Welcome to the family.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
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  16. USAFADAD2017

    USAFADAD2017 Member

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    I am one of the Admins for a USAFA Parents facebook page and would love to share some of your "words of wisdom".. if I may?

    With I-day less than 20 hours away and BCT right behind that, I'm sure there are some 2021 parents that could use some "humor" between their tears.
     
  17. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Feel Free. Maybe "Link" the thread to your parent's facebook page, and maybe some of those parents will come and visit this forum.

    But by all means feel free to share any information I post on this forum.

    Mike
     
  18. USAFADAD2017

    USAFADAD2017 Member

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    Thank you! I'll be sure and give you guys the credit.. I've been following these threads since 2012.. before my daughter entered USAFA Prep.. She finally graduated last month.
     
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  19. BTCS/USN

    BTCS/USN Member

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    Congrats usafadad. You do know that they never stop borrowing money though don't you?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
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  20. USAFADAD2017

    USAFADAD2017 Member

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    Thanks for the warning, BTCS.. I have two daughters.. please pray for me..
     
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