Currently sat in a hotel lobby, drinking a latte waiting to meet with someone to discuss discounted rooms for my charity event on 10th August. I almost didn’t come out today because my motivation has taken a day off!!
I was sitting in my lounge this morning staring at the brown MFO which is a typical military storage box. They have a very specific smell to them and it’s quite haunting right now. I opened it the other day, and as I did, that familiar waft of the box, along with the smell of the my military uniform triggered off memories. The box has now been sitting there since Wednesday morning and I have no idea what to do with it. It holds my combat uniform, last worn at RAF Syerston on an exercise called Decisive Edge. My role in the exercise was to assess the officer cadets whilst under extreme pressure in the field. It also holds my blues, my number 1 dress uniform for paraded and my mess kit which I was always so proud to wear.
My last role was as a Flight Commander at RAFC Cranwell. I absolutely loved this job, a role I had pushed to obtain. It was another one of my career goals achieved and although I wasn’t in the job long, I gave it my best and sooo loved it. I was proud to be able to support and develop a bunch of recruits into very proud officer cadets!
My military career was certainly the making of me. I joined at the age of 19, this very niaeve, underconfident, scared little bunny who just needed to escape. I achieved so much whilst serving, developing in so many ways emotionally, physically and mentally. I saw the real world for the first time and it was bloody scary!! I had to learn to relate to other people at work and socially. I had no real friends before joining for various reasons. I didn’t really trust anyone, thinking the worst if they were nice to me, wondering what they would be wanting from me. However, I met some amazing people who wanted nothing more from me than my friendship. I have so many lovely people in my life right now.
I grew in confidence professionally and using this to forget everything else whirling around my head. I wanted to forget my past and focus solely on my career. I was going to be the best I can be, working really hard to reach all my goals but in the right way. I worked hard and reached the rank of sergeant before going for my commission. I could not believe it when I graduated from officer training. I used to drive past the gates of RAFC Cranwell thinking that one day I would like to graduate from the parade square at the front of College Hall Officers Mess. On the 30 September 2010 I was marching off the parade square a Flying Officer. I wanted to wet myself I was that excited. I was crying and laughing internally simultaneously all the way through the parade, unable to believe I had made it, I had reached my goal.
I joined the RAF with nothing, no qualifications, no belongings and no friends. I pushed myself way beyond what I was capable of and dared to aim high. My dream came true, I was a frontline paramedic and a commissioned officer. So when I look at a box full of my uniform, which I probably can’t even get into now, I am sad. Sad because the career I had fought to develop was actually what also broke me. Despite this I also feel proud because I achieved something big. You can all dare to achieve and it may not work out how you imagined, but persevere. If it’s right for you it will happen. The RAF was right for me then. Every journey is preparation for something new so enjoy. I don’t see the door to my military career closing, I see it now redirecting me to another door.