October 6, 2012 by Amanda Zahn
I know it is not Sunday, but today was just awful enough to merit a blog. I might still blog on Sunday, but today’s more than fulfills the goal I set for myself to blog once weekly. I hope my regular readers will forgive me a day of weakness, doubt, and worry.
Any of my classmates in college, and most of my soldiers from my time in the Army, can verify that I will be the first one to remind them for the need for tact when posting online. Nothing set as “Private” is ever truly private, and public posts are especially risky. It makes me seem almost hypocritical, considering this blog is as open and public as a blog can get, but I believe I am generally controlled in ranting that might require a bit of moderation. In regards to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and any other social networking websites, status updates, photos, and geotags are things that need to be monitored, almost nurtured, to guarantee personal safety and public image remain intact.
It is with a certain remorse bordering on disappointment that drives me to rant today. I am angry, hurting, stressed, and worried about my future. When I left the Army to go to college, it was knowing that I had the option to return. When I excelled in my classes and my performance was above and beyond any expectations save my own, it was knowing that my record would open any door for me. As I was giving the speech for my class at graduation, I knew it was just the first step on the road to finding a job both challenging and thrilling.
When I sent my resume to the 100th company seeking a job, any job, it was knowing that I was not good enough. While most companies deemed me unworthy of any sort of acknowledgement, my rejection letters from Blizzard Entertainment are among my most prized mile markers since I graduated in March. It means that my resume got past the machine and was actually seen by real, human eyes. The result was still the same – I was lacking – but knowing that my resume had been seen was something.
Finally reaching a point where I could tell myself I tried, that I gave it as much of an effort as I could afford, without feeling like I was lying to myself, I started the process to go back into the Army. It was always the backup plan, so I never felt like I was failing. Truth be told, I was excited at the prospect of getting back in and making a difference. It was almost like fate: I had gotten into amazing shape, I had gone above and beyond in college, and I had fallen short again and again in the search for a job in “the real world.” Maybe life was trying to tell me I did not belong there.
The end results of my Army aspirations are grim. Because I was in the active duty for six years and two months – sixty days too long – I am not able to rejoin the active duty via OCS. Going to OCS, but as an Army Reserve soldier, was supposed to be a no-brainer second choice if the active duty was not an option. Unfortunately, the answer for them was the same. Becoming an officer seems to be a goal slipping quickly from my feeble grasp.
The news this morning was even more disheartening. The reserve unit here in Albuquerque was more than willing to accept me and place me into an officer position. It was not active duty, but it was settling in a way that would eventually work in my favor. I like the unit and I love working for the chain of command. Unfortunately, the offer came with more bad luck: because I never had WLC when I was in the active duty, I am not eligible for the option I was offered.
So here is my option: join the reserve unit here as an E-5, wait for a class date for WLC and for MOS qualification – there are no parachute riggers here – and then I can apply for a direct commission. They estimate the process will take two years, if not more. The slap in the face bothers me. How could it not? What really brings tears to my eyes and makes me want to beat my fists on a table while I shout my rage is that this is just another in the line of rejections, of someone with enough power to do so saying “You’re not good enough.”
“You’re not trained.”
“You’re not qualified.”
“Your hard work is irrelevant.”
“You don’t matter.”
The bad part about all this woe-is-me is that no company to which I have applied has ever said these things to me. Their silence says it, over and over.
My complaints are many. They include everything from injustice to personal failure. The lack of… support… from Full Sail hurts. They have called to check on my progress since graduation three or four times. The results are always the same: I tell them I am getting no calls or emails about my applications, they have me send in my most recent rendition of my resume, and then they tell me things I am already doing – like catering my cover letter to each job and company. Even today, my former instructors inspire me constantly, but the Career Development section leaves much to be desired in the area of “development.”
The Army has failed me too. I understand that the force is being reduced because the mission has gotten smaller. I know that moves like that would cause restrictions on reentry to come into effect, but sixty days is what ripped the rug from beneath me. Given the choice between 500 other applicants and me, one would think that sixty extra days of experience would merit a second look, another chance, especially considering the people being picked are fresh out of college with no experience at all. One would hope that earning a college degree would amount to something in the Army, even if the civilian world says I do not matter.
So I am back at square one. I have a business degree and nothing else to show for my collegiate experience. I have eight years of military experience – six years and two months of it in the active duty – and so far no civilian company cares to see what type of work I can do for them. I have been told by a friend that I have too much experience for entry-level, but not enough experience to get anything higher than that. I am stuck in the middle, lost and directionless, and so woefully lacking somewhere that matters enough to dictate my future.
I will ask the same question I asked a former instructor on Facebook. How is it that life can be so great and so awful at the same time? I have so much, and yet I am falling short in establishing myself as a contributing member of society – and of my little family.
I am lost.
I am worried.
I am still lacking.