The Life Experimenter : Change Your Life, One Month at a Time

Life Experiment #9: Join The Navy And See The World

By Allen Rinehart

US Navy Sailor Looking At Sunset On A ShipGrab your sun screen and world map my friend because this sailor is setting sail.  After considering my options in what I want to do in my life and my career I’ve finally decided to join the Navy.   Don’t get me wrong, this no easy 4-day joy cruise on the fun boat, but I believe the Navy definitely has some fantastic options when it comes to world travel, culture, and experiencing all that life has to offer.

Unlike my previous experiments, this trial is 4 YEARS LONG and requires a commit like no other.  I can’t quit, I can’t change my mind, but that’s OK.  Because 4 years like 30 days is not forever.  Over the next 4 years of my life I’ll embark on a journey to find out what military life is all about.  I’ll serve my country.  Live overseas.  Make some life long friends.  And really make an effort to better myself and the people around me.

Here are some of the things I want to gain from my experience…

World Travel

When  people say they want to travel the world, I think what they really mean is they want to experience other cultures different than their own.  Traveling provides the opportunity to met people from other countries to share your beliefs, experience foods and musics from other lands, and put your own life in perspective.  I’m 26 years old and I’ve never left North American, so I’m hoping to see what the rest of the world looks like before I die. Navy sailors get 30 days of vacation each year in addition to the 2-3 days of “liberty leave” they get to have at each port they visit.

Navy sailors also get access to what are called Space-A flights which give you the option to fly for free from one Navy base to another if there’s room on that flight.  And finally I get the experience of moving to another city or several cities and living there.  I’ll definitely have to take some of the things I learned from my talking to strangers trial with me to meet some new people while I’m there.

New Friends

Being the military is going to give me exposure to hundreds of different people every year.  From the guys I go through boot camp with to the crews on the ship and the port that I call home, I’ll always be meeting and working with the people I meet on my job everyday.

One thing I noticed about the corporate world is often you’re stuck working with the same people day-in and day-out.  Meeting new people on a continuous basis sharpens your social skills and broadens your knowledge of world in general.

Debt Reduction

Even though the Navy pays a little lower than what I could get at a civilian job, there’s a lot of great programs to help me control my debt.  The Navy has a Student Loan Repayment Program for enlisted sailors that will pay up to $65,000 of your federal student loans.  Not only that, but for at least the 3 months of boot camp and my training school I’ll be restricted from leaving at all which means little to no opportunity to spend money.

And, since everything is paid for (rent, food, utilities, cable, internet, clothes) I’ll need very little necessities to get by.  Especially on the clothing.  I noticed that with my corporate job, I had to maintain an entirely separate wardrobe to wear to work.  With the Navy, your uniform is what you wear to work, so there’s little need to buy clothes other than the ones you wear on the weekend or after work.

Learning To Be A Leader

Most of my jobs so far have put me in a role where I’m working mostly independently.  I’ve never had a lot of experience leading a group of people.  What I’m hoping to gain is the experience of being a leader.  The reason that the military shaves your head and dresses everyone the same in boot camp is to stress the importance of teamwork.

Unlike the corporate world, where everyone is out to become the best at what they do despite the success of others, the Navy values being a team.  They grade recruits on how well the entire division does and not just individuals.  You count on the person next to you even if you don’t like them, because one day they may save your life.

Challenging Myself

I started doing Life Experiments because I wanted to challenge myself to try something new every week.  But, unless you’re extremely self-disciplined is often hard to hold yourself accountable.  I completed many of my trials, but didn’t always follow through with them everyday.  Some days I just didn’t feel like doing them.  Not so much with the military.  You have to do you job everyday regardless of if you feel like it or not.

This is a habit I want to instill in myself.  The ability to act regardless of the circumstances.  I also believe that doing things that seem extremely hard, like going through Boot Camp, will give me confidence in other areas of my life.  Some things that used to seem “hard” will pale in comparsion.

It was a really hard decision to make, but ultimately I think it will better my life.  It’s exciting to think about what the future holds for me.  All the possibilities.  All the adventures I have yet to embark.  Makes me wish they’d ship me off right now! 🙂

Serving My Country

Some people I talked to about the serving in the military view it as people who want to go off to war and kill people.  That does happen, but that’s not why I joined.  That would be like saying, you want to become a police officer to shoot criminals.  The police, just like the military, do shoot people, but only when the lives of others are threaten.  The military is the same way.  If a conflict can be avoided, then most military people would prefer that.

My mission in serving in the Navy is to be a position to really help people.  When natural disasters strike abroad, the military is usually one of the first responders to aid people.  They also protect those who can’t defend themselves.  My goal in serving is to be face of America and show people in other countries what kind of people we are.

Maintaining My Values & Beliefs

One of the first thoughts I had joining the Navy was if I would be able to maintain my lifestyle.  I’m a vegetarian and a Buddhist.  I’ve read a bunch of forum postings where a lot people said they maintained their vegetarianism while serving.  PETA actually ran a contest recently for the Country’s Sexiest Vegetarian Solider, which means there are soldiers out there that choose a vegetarian lifestyle regardless.

As far as being a Buddhist, the Navy allows you to practice any religion you want.  Although I’m curious to find out what meditating on a aircraft carrier is going to be like.  One concern I did have was about one Buddhist precepts of “Do not kill”.  Precepts are basically like rules or commandments you use to live your life by.  I thought being in the military might conflict with this belief, but the more I looked into it the more I realized that its not a problem.

First off, most of the work I’d be doing wouldn’t involve the destruction of life. Secondly, I believe the “Do not kill” applies mainly to conscious killing…murder, eating animals, genocide.  My goal in military service is to protect, to end suffering, so that other may live.    The UN even has choice for soldiers to be a Conscientious Objector.  Meaning if you feel that what you are doing is unethical or immoral, you can refuse to fight.   I’m not sure if I would ever take that route, but its reassuring to know that it’s there.

Continuing To Experiment

I considered whether military life would give me the chance to continue my 30-day trials.  When you have less control over where you’re going to be or what you’re going to be doing it seemed a lot harder to continue maintaining daily habits.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized that this is the perfect chance to put experimenting in full force.

Of course there’ll be times when I don’t access to email or a computer (i.e. boot camp) but that doesn’t mean I still can’t keep blogging.  I’ll cover everything from training to go to boot camp, habits to practice while in boot camp, then my training school (or A-school) and everything in afterwords.

Some ideas I had for possible upcoming trials included:

I have a long road ahead of me.  These trials are everything I want to do BEFORE I leave for boot camp, but I’m excited to be apart of something bigger than myself.  Who knows where I’ll be a year from now, but the possiblities are endless.

So my question to you is…

Have you taken the courage to do something different with life recently?
What’s scares youthe most?  Do it.  And I guarantee everything else will seem easier.

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One response to “Life Experiment #9: Join The Navy And See The World”

  1. Chris says:

    Just wanted to say, I am
    waiting for a navy basic date as we speak. I have many of the same goals for doing it too. This inspired me even more. Thanks!

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