When Life is Scarier Than A War Zone: A New (Year’s) Beginning

Since my birthday last summer and my return from Afghanistan, where I served as soldier in the U.S. Army in November, I’ve been experiencing my quarter-life crisis. I’m 25-years-old going on 65 and I’m getting antsy about reaching my career and personal goals, which I call my bucket-list items.  This past weekend I started one of my most important bucket-list” goals: Becoming a DJ.

I was an on-air radio personality in college so I was surrounded by music and turntables, but I never took the time to learn the art of DJing. So, I enrolled in a digital DJing course to teach me the world of Serato, the software used to take the music from out of the crates and into your hard drive. I must say when I got there I was surprised by how many people were there on a Sunday afternoon learning about mixing and scratching. As a young female, the first thing I did was scan the room for “potentials,” (read: boys) but it was an epic fail. I quickly got over that and went back to focusing on the issue at hand.

The crowd wasn’t what I expected. It was a diverse group of ethnicities and ages. There was a child no more than 12-years-old, in the advanced level courses setting up his station, whipping out his own headphones and needles. His father told the instructor as soon as his son comes home from school, he runs to his tables and practices. I was in awe. All of his adult teeth probably haven’t finished coming in but I wanted to be like him, skilled at my passion.

Here I was attending a computer-based class, when I haven’t even attended the core DJing class on how to use the classic turntables. I felt like a cheater, but the digital class was the only one available for time I had available, so I chose one instead of nothing. I was disappointed that the lesson was only a lecture only, I was ready to get my Spinderella on.  But I’ve got to crawl before I can sprint, right?

Last year, I was taken out my college student element and placed in a stressful, demanding environment by becoming a full-time soldier serving in a war zone for the second time in less than five years. Through it all, I believe I overcame my challenges quite well. Surprisingly enough, the biggest challenge was waiting for me here at home on American soil: Unemployment.

It’s still very new to me. It’s my time to go anywhere and pursue my career goals. The truth is … I’m scared.

In Afghanistan, I had a job. I worked six days a week with a 24-hour gym, a roof over my head with my own living space and a two-week paid vacation. I ate three meals a day with free everything, from cereal, Gatorade, water to snacks galore … and a guaranteed check deposited into my account on the 1st and the 15th of every month.

The base where I was stationed is the largest in Afghanistan and heavily guarded so we were relatively safe. I had job security (pun intended) but now, if I don’t work, I don’t eat.  I’m at home with my mama and living off the money I saved during the year overseas and spending my days going to the gym and sending out e-mails. I check my Gmail account hourly in hopes of a timely response from someone. Bored and frustrated are perfect adjectives to explain how I feel almost everyday.

It’s funny. A few months ago, I would hear rockets going off on my base, shaking the structure of the very building I slept in and I would grab my rifle, put on my protective gear and run outside to the nearest shelter. I wasn’t scared though. OK, maybe a little, but it was a different type of scared. I got an adrenaline rush of excitement, but I had my weapon, my body armor and other soldiers on my side. Now, I feel like I’m going into another war zone … without any protection.

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