Usually when someone describes a year or years as "the longest of their life" it kind of has a negative connection. Example: "The year I spent in prsion was the longest year of my life." I, however, mean it in a very good way.
I turn 22 today and when I look back at my 21st birthday it feels like it was three years ago. I attribute this to the many many experiences I went through over the last twelve months. 21 marked the end of my six-month solderization process. It also marked the end to a very long, very serious relationship I was in. As I had been previously living with her, now I needed to find somewhere else to go. After separating with someone I had been close to for three years, emotionally I was crushed, I had just removed myself from the military environment, and I felt I had nowhere to go. I went home to get some time to collect myself.
I moved in with my parents in Prescott. I had almost no social network to speak of, I was reeling from a break-up, and after spending six months surrounded by my fellow comrades in training I found myself up late at night in a dark, quiet house and I was lonely, extremely lonely. During the day I was extremely restless, in training it was common to work 40-60 hours a week along with physical training five days per week. To occupy myself I threw myself into everything I could. I found two jobs, registered for a full schedule at school, got a gym membership, workout schedule, and unfortunately, threw myself headlong into a new, exciting relationship.
I was crossed and the relationship completely fell apart. Once again, I felt alone. I was so used to having a girl in my life to boost my confidence and self-esteem. Once that was gone again I began to compensate. My insecurity grew. Without a girlfriend I felt I had to prove I was attractive. I became a big asshole for awhile. I would brag, talk constantly about myself and the things I had accomplished. I would always take credit rather than let people give it to me. I would rub it in when I outperformed someone. And the worst thing I did, if I felt someone had some sort of dominance over me, I would harshly criticize them to soothe my own insecurity. Also, without a girlfriend to be considerate of, I focused all that consideration inward. I was completely selfish and impatient. I remember telling my Dad I wanted to go golfing with him and never did. I remember him asking me several times and I turned him down because I thought I had something more important to do socially. Looking back now, I remember Dad asking me and I can't remember a single thing I did when I told him no.
I was a damn jerk.
Then I started to question why I was driving all these people I cared about away from me. I began to become a little more self aware. A very good friend pointed me to the author Robert Greene. Much of his work deals with being self aware and controlling your emotions. I saw myself for what I was. I began the long process of eradicating all those horrible habits and over-compensations I had picked up. I remember talking to a good friend one day,
"I really haven't felt like my usual self lately," i said.
"Like, how haven't you felt like yourself?" she asked.
"Well there hasn't been anything usual about myself since before I went to basic training."
Changing as a person is great, I have gone through huge personal changes in the last year. The only problem is I lost my sense of identity sometimes. It really frightened me, and at times I would feel completely lost. But as I examined myself and read about some different perspectives, I found a goal and it wasn't until my friend Hager put a name on it that I realized what it was that I was working towards.
-a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquillity
I feel like I have learned more in this last year about life than I did in the 21 years before.