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Before entering into the military, I was in the process of discovering who I am and where I belong. I thought I knew everything and could do anything, and the number of paths and opportunities which lay before me were limitless. I thought these things but never truly believed them; I was afraid to make a move.
When military service crossed my mind as a viable option, I told myself, "I can't do that! I'm not strong enough emotionally or physically." It wasn't until after much research and debating that I finally took the leap that eventually led me to where I am today.
Serving in the military has altered my outlook on life in ways I would not have had the capability to imagine had I missed this experience. I have gained the confidence and the wisdom to stand proud. I understand who I am and accept that with no regrets. I have grown as an adult; the shy girl that was afraid to make a move is now tackling fears and taking on leadership positions. I have the confidence to step forward for the things I believe in and a career I love, but otherwise would never have thought twice about. I have saved lives, including my own.
There is no more "I can't do that." It has been replaced, often with, "I HAVE done that!" and "I am doing that!" The confidence I have gained for myself and the inspiration drawn from those around me is boundless. I have gained relationships more meaningful than anything I had previously experienced.
Looking back, I have always lived by the core values of the Air Force; Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. I did not know there were other people who shared my ideals or that those people would be my family someday. This family, in many ways, defines who I am just as much as the family that raised me. I have found a place to belong.
Military life has inspired me; I believe the things I can achieve extend beyond even my own imagination. I have experienced things I never thought possible, and I have gone places I used to only dream of. Most importantly, I know who I am, and every day I wake up thinking, "This is where I am meant to be."