No. 19 in our contest says you don’t have to find meaning in your work, that there are other places that might be better.
Kevin LaCroix writes: “I did one enlistment in the Navy. I started in the Nuclear Power Program but did not finish it. I ended up doing what I wanted anyway, a machinist, Machinery Repairman, to be exact. I served in the relative peace between Beirut and the first Gulf War. Over-all I enjoyed my time in.
After separating, honorably, I went out looking for work as a machinist. After about two dozen applications, I was hired but was told my job experience was considered no better than a high schooler graduating from a vocational tech program.
That hurt. I had been a second-class Petty Officer, with plenty of experience on tin cans and a tender. The civilian world was very different. My Navy training did not really prepare me for a civilian job.
I was planning to re-up but met the woman that would become my wife. I went back to school at night while working 55 hours/week. Through two years of partial unemployment because the aerospace industry crashed. I eventually finished my associate’s degree while working one-and-a-half jobs and having our first child. I soon had my dream job, then my wife was pregnant with triplets.
I quit my job to take care of my suddenly-doubled family. This was my new purpose, my new job. Having four kids under 3 kept me busy. The order and discipline I learned in the service helped maintain some ‘semblance’ of order in the house. It was not easy
As we seldom appreciate what we have, when we have it, I was no different. As I sit here typing this out, I know that 28 years + of marriage and 4 kids grown into young adults was my purpose. In that time, I still wondered about ‘what if’ I had stayed in or re-upped. There are things I miss about the military, but my mission became supporting my wife in her career and bringing four people up to be happy and healthy and productive. My wife and I and our kids have supported each other in various personal struggles. We would not be here without each other.
My purpose now, for lack of a better word, is my wife and I and our journey towards a distant retirement. I also am taking time for me.
In all, I am satisfied with the decisions I have made. Not all have been good, or smart, but I would not change a thing, even if I could, because the good, fun and great times far outweigh the not-so-good.”