Challenge: What Does It Mean to You?

Challenge: What Does It Mean to You?

Corporal Logan Block flips a tire during a physical training session at Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico Va., on July 22, 2016. Photo by Sgt Jacky Fang.

QUANTICO, Va. (July 22, 2016) — What defines you? Is it your name and social security number? Is it something more deep like your personality or your favorite type of music? But are these characteristics really what make you, you?

There is the biological aspect to the makeup of people, as well as spiritual beliefs. But where do those other characteristics come from? Why are we the way we are? We are defined by past experiences - maybe a hardship you endured or something as simple as someone's words to you. I am defined, in part, by a challenge I was given three years ago. 

Scene: Oscar A. Carlson High School
Location: Computer Class

I was sitting in a computer class at Oscar A. Carlson High School when a man in a funny uniform came and sat next to me. 

"What are you working on?" he asked me.

"A collage of photos to express who I am."

It was the first assignment for the class. He asked me why I did not have an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor on my collage. I looked at him, puzzled, and said I would not put something on my collage if I did not know what it was. The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor was the emblem of the United States Marine Corps, he said. And that it was the symbol that every Marine, past and present, wore on their chest and had branded onto their hearts. 

He asked about my future. Are you going to college? How are you going to pay for it? Do you want to live in Michigan for the rest of your life?

The more he spoke, the more interested I became. Being open-minded, I contemplated each word he said. Not once did he ask me to join the Marine Corps. Instead, he invited me to work out at the recruiting station some time. I considered it, but with my busy schedule I failed to make the time. The same man in the same uniform became a familiar face. He asked me again if I was going to work out at the recruiting station. 

"I really don't have the time," I told him.

"If you don't show up this Saturday, I'm giving up on you." 

Give up on me?! 

Those words felt like a slap in the face – a wakeup call. They essentially set me on the path that made me who I am today. 

I could not accept that he would just give up on me. That he would stop asking me questions, stop telling me I could do it. I needed that push – that challenge. 

The next Saturday I walked into the recruiting station, feeling afraid. There were dozens of others there, all around my age. I knew one or two of them, the rest were unfamiliar faces. 

"I'm surprised you showed up," the recruiter told me. 

We waited for everyone to arrive, and then we started the physical training session. It was difficult, but nothing I could not handle. After that day I kept going back, speaking with different recruiters, asking them all questions. 

Finally, the day came. The day that changed my life forever. The recruiter looked me in the eyes, and asked, "Are you ready to become a United States Marine?" 


I did not hesitate.  

That answer changed my life forever. I felt different. Not only physically or emotionally, but I carried a new sense of pride. I started working out more, eating healthier and studying history about the Marine Corps. I also felt more confident. I had made the decision to better my life and serve my country while many of my friends were still living at home with their parents working dead-end jobs. 

Scene: Recruit Training – a.k.a. Boot Camp
Location: Parris Island, 4th Recruit Training Bn, Papa Co., Plt. 4042

Eleven months had flown by and I was saying goodbye to my family, as it was the last time I would see them for 13 weeks. The day had finally come. I was going to recruit training. 

Thirteen weeks… the toughest, longest thirteen weeks of my life. The drill instructors challenged me mentally, morally and physically. It was hard being away from home. The most time I had spent away from my mother was ten days. But I knew that what I was doing - the struggles I was enduring - would make me a better person. 

Sometimes I found myself questioning why I was there. It was tough getting yelled at every day and being away from my family. Why didn't I just go to college? But, the beginning was the hardest. When I was sitting on a quiet bus one second, and getting screamed at by a drill instructor the next. I wished I could sit on that bus forever. But I knew that I had to get up, I had to take that step off of the bus and on to the yellow footprints. That was where it hit me… I am going to be a United States Marine. 

Scene: Present Day
Location: Quantico, Va. 

If it had not been for that strange man in the funny uniform saying he was going to give up on me, I would not be where I am today. I would not be a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, and the Eagle, Globe and Anchor would be on someone else's chest, branded into someone else's heart. 

I continue to face challenges every day. Being a Marine is tough, and, let's be honest, being a female Marine can have its own hardships as well. As a female in a predominantly male organization, perception goes a long way. If a female is close friends with a male Marine, her intentions may be questioned. But if she sits at her desk and doesn't speak, she can be perceived as stuck-up and rude. Sometimes it's hard to find a middle ground. Be friendly but not flirty.

Physical fitness can be another challenge for some female Marines. Maintaining our personal PT standards may not be an issue, but trying to keep up with the males can sometimes be tough. However, all of these challenges help me to push myself, run a little faster or do one more pull-up; I challenge myself to be the best me I can be.

Writing this article was a challenge for me. To open up my mind, my thoughts, and let you see me - the person I am today. 

I continue to grow each day. I accept challenges, some with apprehension, and I try to challenge others. The way I see it, if something is easy, it is probably not worth doing.

If you found yourself where I did, sitting at a recruiter's desk signing a dotted line, you may question your decision. The important thing to remember is why you did it. Why did you sign the dotted line? Why did you step off that bus onto the yellow footprints? As you face challenges throughout your career, remember the reason you're here and look at the bigger picture. Times will get hard wherever you end up, but they will always blow over. You accepted this challenge for a reason.

Do not give up on yourself.

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