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Human life is an intricate combination of choices and obligations that make up a unique road for each person to follow. Although there are many situations, which, in some way, influence this journey, it is the milestone events that dramatically change the direction of one’s life. Despite their significance, such events are not necessarily big or remarkable for everyone around. An advertisement on TV, a book read for a literature class, or even a phrase from other people’s conversation that one overhears can become a decisive factor. At times, however, this impulse comes not from the outside, but from the inside, from something more than the rational part of the brain. Someone will call it intuition, others will claim that it is God, still others believe in the inner self. Whatever label you stick to the phenomenon, the effect is what counts.
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Looking back at my life now, I can easily distinguish the life altering event that not only changed its course, but helped me to change myself. Enlisting in the United States Air Force furthered my lifetime goals of pursuing education, professional advancement, and, more importantly, enhancing values and qualities of becoming a better human being. However, as it sometimes happens with a good thing, this idea did not seem all that great from the very beginning, and the decision to enlist was not an easy one to take.
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The week leading up to the decision, I remember as a blur. I talked to tens of people asking for advice and trying to hear in their answers a phrase or maybe just a single word that would tip the scales in favor of a decision. People said a lot really trying to be helpful, sharing their experience, telling me things they knew or thought they knew, but none of them actually helped. Surfing the net was no better. Too much information, often either controversial or advertising, confused me even more. My parents supported me wholeheartedly, but (there always seems to be a ‘but’ in such too positive statements) they were ready to support any decision I made, which was great in terms of atmosphere, but did nothing to help me in decision-making.
Thus, at the end of the week, being totally lost and feeling both tired and frustrated, I went to my room and locked myself up. I took out the list of pros and cons that I was writing the whole week. Written in two columns, the facts were all there, and yet somehow I still could not decide. Getting angry at my self, I stood up and started pacing the room. I searched the brain for a missing piece of this puzzle, the only thing that stood between me and the decision. And then it hit me. Fear. How simple! It was fear all along hidden somewhere deep inside me. It was not the fear of difficulties, however. The challenges of the service thrilled and excited me. What I was really afraid of was to fail: to be unable to meet the expectations of the others and, more importantly, my own, not to be as good as I was expected to. Admitting it was hard and painful, but liberating at the same time. When you know the cause, you can cope with the consequences. Once faced, the fear no longer restrained me, and I knew exactly what to do. The next day I enlisted.
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The time spent at the US Air Force was filled with difficulties and challenges; to deal with some of them, I had to cope with myself and overcome my emotions to get the job done. What I got in return was much more than I expected or even hoped for. I have received financial help to attend school and continue my education, as well as acquired skills and knowledge for personal development and career progress. Moreover, I have learnt to do my very best in everything I undertake, no matter how insignificant the task might seem. Last but by no means least, I looked at life from a different perspective seeing what is truly important. When you support a mission, and your job is critical for any type of operation, when you help to save lives, you can no longer remain an ordinary member of the consumer society. You see the world with different eyes, value things that are genuinely significant, and appreciate people who surround you.
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