Listening to Kendrick Lamar. One third of the way through a fifth of Ciroc. Borrowed a cigarette from a friend. My mother would never approve of this. Forgive me.
I recently made the rank of E-5. Military-minded people can relate. Previous to making this promotion, I had someone senior to me writing my evaluations, but apparently I’ve hit that stage in my career where I write my own eval, and my superiors just edit it as they see fit. There are two approaches a person can take with this situation. Either you are brutally honest, which is my nature 85% of thee time, or you gas yourself for your own benefit. Both of these have their pros. Being brutally honest allows for retrospect and true growth. Gassing yourself makes you look better than your peers in the long run. They also have their cons. Being brutally honest may taint the image you’ve been painting, out of the very human desire to put up pretenses. Gassing yourself will potentially take away your self-respect, and what do others respect for you matter when you can’t even muster up that sentiment for yourself? Naturally I want to take the honest route. As I said, its in my nature to do so. Instead, I ended gassing myself due to a very predictable paradox: I’m not the only E-5 in my command. ALL OF US write our own evals. And even though I tend to criticize myself, I also know that at the end of the day I’m an exceptional sailor. I need this point to be made, not just in relation to myself, but in relation to everyone else. They rank us. And the a lot of the other E-5s are not as brutally honest as me when they write their evals. They will put as many words in there as necessary to paint the desired picture of a perfect sailor. If I speak honestly, then I will pale in comparison to the fantasy sailors being depicted around me. In the act of self-preservation, I have to keep up this pretense, blow myself up to me more than I actually feel that I am. Forced to lie, just to prove that I deserve to be in the top rankings. This is not what I want. I’m staying afloat in a sea of lies, even as I drown in a pool of truth. I need to make this relatable, How do I expect others to understand? I know. Facebook drives you to blow yourself up to epic proportions, portray yourself in ways that you fully know does not actually represent you. Thats not unique to Facebook. Or even Twitter, Tumblr or MySpace. That is community. The need to make yourself be perfect. The need to make your family seem perfect. Your society. Your religion. Your life. This is painfully obvious from our portrayal of what life and family should consist of: Hollywood. The Cosby Show, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, and heroes in general. But you don’t need to. Do not let your essence wither away in the name of keeping up pretenses, don’t let that be your first sense of truth. Please , be stronger than me. I admire, NO, I absolutely adore those who care about nothing else but their own self-identity, because they have remembered the greatest gifts of being a child. And do not twist my words and think I call them childish. No. I call them pure. They are as pure as when they first arrived here, and thats the greatest trait of all, to be uninfluenced by influence. They are just themselves. I won’t name them, because they will either feel championed or scrutinized, and generalizations will be made, and I don’t believe in those.
One half through the bottle of Ciroc. Wonder how long I’ll last.l
This next one should be a phone call, but my phone is off. Tsk tsk. I have a very good friend on my submarine, named Karim Cain. No, I feel comfortable enough to call him my brother, outside of physical resemblance. Our constant banter is a clear indiication that he fills the spot of the brother I never actually had. Sidenote: he was my mentor when I first got to the boat, and I still marvel over how he helped shape me into a carbon copy of him. Its not easy admitting that with arrogance either. What helps to ease that pain is that fact that I’m proud of it. Anyway, he’s leaving in about a month, and there have been multiple times that we’ve had that conversation so many friends have in this fast life. Will we keep in touch? Will we remember each other, be lifelong friends? Us being brutally honest people, the outcome is always grim. No, we will not be lifelong friends. We will not forever be in touch. We will think, and miss the camaraderie of the brotherhood, but we will move on with our lives. And we don’t say this out of laziness, but out of past experience. Cain is just the last of a long line of brothers that I’ve failed to keep in contact with, because I’ve been cursed with this sense of detachment that won’t allow me to hold on to friendship when it spans the globe. I’m a military brat, bred to be relocated at a second’s notice. As a child, even when I was too young to acknowledge it, I secretly knew this was what my future would consist of. I’ve experienced the pain of losing a friend far too often to consider it anything more than a papercut. This is what allows me to go out to sea and not worry myself sick about the world affairs, what drives my family crazy when I go weeks without calling them. They think its because I’m insensitive. I realize its because I’m desensitized. I lived in Africa for a year and some change with no one’s company but my grandmother and my uncle, how can you not expect me to adapt? This is what I’ve become, compassionate as ever but cold as ice when it matters most. I’m ashamed of my self-preservant ways. This is dedicated to my long line of brothers who I have failed. Austin Israel Lewan Johnson, Chris Marquez, Corwon Curtis Martin, Steven Gifford, Fas D DreamChaser Bayoh, Zach Nottnott Cook, Brandon Cunningham, Joshua Pruitt, Dinero Melianno,