I’m moving into uncharted waters transitioning out of the Army after eight years of active duty and four years at West Point and I decided to document everything as I started down this path. So, as I researched what exactly to do, where to go, and how to get started, I began writing it all down.
I’ve learned so much by simply talking to people, networking, YouTube, and reading, and I’m deeply appreciative that I’ve been able to access this collective wisdom. So out of genuine gratitude and a desire to continue to improve my writing, I thought it could be helpful to share my experiences with others.
Growing up in rural California, I always either wanted to be a marine biologist or join the Army. I’ve always been interested in nature, conservation, and wildlife for as long as I can remember and grew up around animals and was always knee deep in ponds looking for tadpoles and snails.
I ended up choosing the Army as my life path and left for the United States Military Academy in 2008 after graduating high school. I entered the Army as a second lieutenant (2LT), and now here I am about 12 years later as a washed up captain (CPT), very clearly unhappy and unfulfilled, and ready for an adventure.
SO, AFTER A LOT OF REFLECTION, I DECIDED TO LEAVE THE ARMY AND SPEND TWO-ISH YEARS AWAY FROM THE 9 to 5.
After eight years in the active duty Army, I had just finished my time as a company commander and was desperately in need of a change. I’d known for several years that I planned to leave the Army after company command. And while I deeply appreciate all the experiences I’ve had and the friends I’ve made, I was absolutely relieved and excited to close this chapter.
The challenge now is to determine how to live a healthy, balanced life that’s personally meaningful, and where I can serve in some capacity with the passion and skills I have to humbly offer.
“Happiness” isn’t what I want or need and is an oversimplification of the problem. I’m seeking a path where I can contribute in a way that brings me joy and meaningful fulfillment. Isn’t that what we all actually want and need? Unfortunately, it often seems we confuse this yearning for meaning with superficial substitutes like status, wealth, labels, and impressive accomplishments.
As imperfect humans, we all inevitably fall into these traps in our own lives. And since societies are simply an accumulation of imperfect humans organized into some sort of structure, we can see that–in many ways–existing societal structures and norms, cultures driven by consumerism and hedonism, and the human obsession with materialism all seem to disappointingly encourage us to pursue the temporary and the superficial.
WELL, IT’S A DAMN TRAP.
And I was absolutely sick and tired of feeling trapped. The way this has all manifested within my own life is submission to a system that (from my experience and observations) rewards mediocrity and dishonesty; exudes professional arrogance and faux prestige; and dis-incentivizes innovation, critical thought, or dissent. My contributions and impact felt trivial, diluted, and largely meaningless.
My personal plan after quitting my job and freeing myself was very much “to be determined” at first, but this unplanned period of my life was ironically intentional. In the past, this would’ve made me apprehensive, but now I feel freedom. Freedom to live and pursue what is best for me–which will consequently optimize my existence and the contributions I’ll be able to make during my time on this earth living this one precious life.
So now I’m on an investigative journey in search of my ikigai.
I've got a lot to share, and I plan on writing about:
Army Reserve Component opportunities that I discovered from hours of researching blogs, YouTube videos, Reddit, and talking to random people. Ironically, the HRC website was the least helpful for me in understanding a lot of these opportunities… which shouldn’t be surprising.
Converting my 1991 Mitsubishi Delica into a legit camper van and road tripping around the United States.
Academic and service-oriented internships in wildlife conservation and rural community development.
Working on off-grid farms. I’m looking at central Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia right now.
International traveling and all that goes along with it: maintaining personal health and fitness, budgeting, and finding ways to earn money.
And of course… my unsolicited opinions on the Army and some of the problems we face from my perspective as a junior officer. Couldn’t forget that one! You can go to Writings in the main menu, and go to the Military section. I’ve focused on leadership commentary and transitioning out of the Army.
So… if anyone needs a REFRAD packet example that has successfully passed through the chain of command and HRC gauntlets, here’s mine.
We’ll see how life goes, but I’m hoping to keep producing quality work that in some way adds value to people’s lives.
I truly appreciate all of the kindness and support over the years.