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Dec. 1, 2021

Episode 1 - AIT

Episode 1 - AIT

This episode is about the first time in my life when I chose to lean into and overcome a seemingly impossible situation. I was 18 years old, just graduated high school, and landed in Ft. Rucker, AL. This experience changed my life. The choices I made there continue to give me strength and encouragement when I come up against difficult and uncomfortable situations.

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Transcript
Melissa:

I was sitting criss cross apple sauce in the bay of the EWH one. One H Huey helicopter. And I was staring at the area below the transmission. And what's called the hell hole. This is the place in the helicopter where one would install a cargo hook. And that's what I was doing. I had spent, well, over half of the two hour time, a lot meant I had in my training to install this cargo hook. It was the last test I needed to pass in my training to be a mechanic on a H army helicopter. I sat there and I looked at that cargo hook and it was beautifully installed. It was within tolerances. It was tightened down correctly. Except. It was backwards. Backwards. In my anxiety to get this thing attached, I had failed to ensure that it was facing the right way. Now I would have an opportunity to do this again. Because if I didn't pass this time, there was another chance to do it over. And I knew I would pass it in that time. I had overcome this obstacle. I was able to install the cargo hook and by simply turning it around, I would be able to do it again probably in less time. And with less difficulty. Than I did this time. However I would not achieve my goal. You see this decision would be one of the biggest decisions. I had made in my 18 years of life at this point. I had arrived at Fort Rucker, Alabama, fresh out of high school. The graduation confetti was probably still in my hair somewhere. I arrived to complete the AIT section of army training. Called advanced individual training. It comes after basic training. I had completed basic training the summer before, between my junior and senior years of high school. And now after graduation, I was here to complete my advanced individual training. In other words, how to fix this helicopter, the job I would do for the. Army for the Illinois army national guard. And this was supposed to be easier than basic training. I was here to check this box and move on to college and conquer the world. However. The first five minutes. Of being present in Fort Rucker, Alabama. Told me. It was not going to be easy. Nor simple. I was in well over my head. The drill sergeants that were there in that place made it very clear what their standards were. There are standards. We're not to be the best company in that battalion. Their standards were not to be the best company at Fort Rucker. Their standards were to be the best company in the army. In the army Charlie company. I would be the model company for anyone in the army to look to. Now what this meant is that we would be perfect. In all aspects. We would March perfectly, we would resound a cadences perfectly. We would be physical specimens. We would be excelling beyond everyone else in all aspects of what it meant. To be a soldier. We would be disciplined. Well-trained. And exceptional in all areas. No, I like excellence. But as an 18 year old girl, Just out of high school. Who was shy. Naive. And gullible. I was here with these men. And I knew that there would only be one of two possible outcomes in this scenario. I would either fail miserably. And wash out. Or I would come out on top. I needed to decide immediately which person I was going to be. For the first time in my life. I decided I was going to triumph. Now I had been a great student. I was a good athlete. I had accomplished things and I had excelled in school. But this was different. This was going to all be from my own efforts and from my own inner strength. I was the youngest of three children and I had two older brothers. That would eliminate any obstacle I had in front of me, if I had any doubt or if I had any pushback or resistance, I merely had to go to them or my parents and they would help me. They would take care of it. They would provide what I needed to overcome this time. It was all going to be from me. And oddly, this is kind of what I had asked for this is why I had joined the national guard. I wanted to be a biologist and not just any biologist, but I was going to find the cure for aids. This was the late eighties and aids was a huge threat. I was going to be a biologist that found a cure for it. Not only that also I was going to be a neurobiologist in my spare time and find a way to heal spinal cord injuries, to heal paralysis. I had big goals in my life. And I knew deep down, I did not have the inner strength and wherewithal. That would be required of me to achieve those goals. And that's what I wanted from. The Illinois army national guard experience. Well, Be careful what you ask for. If you speak it into the universe, you are likely to receive it. So there I was with all of these men, I don't know, probably 50 or so. And we were all in over our heads. And I was in way over my head. The physical strength that would be required. The mental capacity. That would be required. And the emotional. Strength and spiritual strength. That would be required of me. They would each stretch me further than I had ever been stretched in my life. But I decided I was going to prevail. I was going to come out on top and I was going to do it from my own strength. Of course. I also lean on the strength of the God that I had known and trusted throughout my whole life. So when I say from my own strength, I mean, also that. That I draw upon from that relationship with the holy. So here we were. When it came to running and the physical aspects. And let me tell you. Army training units are pretty big on running and being physically strong and healthy. So in this situation, I did not have a separate standard for me. I was thrown into the mix with all of these men. And when we went out on a run, I did not get to set the pace. I was in the mix. I was running at a pace that I had never run before. And woe be to me or to anyone else who would fall out of that run. And that's just not a fate that you would want to endure. There were times when we ran that. I could no longer see my vision would give out on me. But we were in a tightly packed group. And as long as I could keep putting one foot in front of the other, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. And we had, and we would get back from those runs. Then you could be sick, then you could get yourself together again. When we were running, sometimes one of the guys would fall out of the runs. That was never good. So the physical training in itself. Was. Stretching me beyond what I had ever been stretched before. And the mental aspects. Now I had tested well on the army. Uh, that's called an AZ fab test a S V a B, and I don't remember anymore what that acronym stands for. But it's a test of your basic knowledge when you enter the armed services and the scores on that in large part dictate what you can do, your choice of jobs in the army. I was not schooled on mechanics. I just kind of went through that section and guessed and used. Logic as best I could to come up with the best answers, but it turns out I am a really good test taker. So I was put into this maintenance. Well, I was allowed to choose. This helicopter maintenance position. And I'm a good student, but the learning was completely different for me. So again, I was stretched mentally in a way that I had not been stretched before. And then it was the eighties. It was 1989 to be exact. And. A lot of things have changed and many things haven't changed. I was one of two females in all of the training there. And there were folks who didn't want us to be there. Now the chain of command I had at the company, the drill sergeants, the supply Sergeant and our first Sergeant and company commander. They. Never gave an ounce of indication. That I was not fully welcomed there. But at the maintenance school. I encountered pushback. And I had my first me too moments and me too experiences at that school. I didn't have the capacity to deal with that at that time. And that knocked me back on my feet. However I had earned the respect. Of my platoon mates. The other guys in the platoon rallied around me and told me that I had their support. However I wanted to handle the situation, but they wanted me and encouraged me to handle the situation because they did not like seeing me devalued. At all. And it was through their encouragement. That I was able to face this. So I faced it. I went to the supply Sergeant in Charlie company. And he sent me. Into the mess hall to go eat supper because it was 6:00 PM. And by the time I had sat down at a table with my tray, I had been summoned to the first sergeant's office. And for those who haven't been in the military, the first Sergeant. He, or she. They're the guy, they're the ones who have all of the control. Really of your everyday experience. So going to his office was a lot like being called to the principal's office. I didn't know what he would have, what kind of response he would have to my struggle. I didn't know if he would reprimand me for making waves or if he would offer his support. When I got to that office. There was no doubt. I have never. Literally seen smoke coming from someone's ears. But this was the closest that I have come to seeing that. I think if I had squinted and looked just the right way, there would have been smoke coming out of his ears. No one and I mean, no one messed with his soldiers. I absolutely had his support. But at the school. It was different. You see, this was just the second level of five or six that I had to go through at the school. So making waves there. That was going to pose a lot of difficult situations for me along the line. But I was determined. I was going to prevail. I wasn't merely going to survive. I wasn't merely going to get by. I had made the choice to prevail at this experience and what that meant. Was. I had to pass. Every test mechanical test at that school on the first try. It meant that I had to pass every physical test, every physical exam at a high level. It meant that I had to go to the learning center across the street from our barracks in my own time and do extra coursework and show extra proficiency. It meant that I couldn't stumble anywhere along the way. What was I going to do? Well at the school. The instructor was removed. And each level I went to the instructors at that new level would pull me aside and assured me that I had no worries with them. They were not that guy. They thought he was wrong and a mess and deserved whatever punishment he got, that I had nothing to fear from them. That was reassuring. However, during the training during the time when I would learn these different tasks. The leadership at the school. Colonels majors, these folks that seemed. Uh, if you got called to the principal's office, that's one thing, but getting called to the office of the battalion commander or these folks that had the, this high officers rank. That was beyond frightening. And that's what happened on the regular, as I was being put in a situation to learn a new task that I needed to learn to pass this school. I would get pulled out of that training. To go and tell my story again, to answer the same questions again. And honestly it started to feel like sabotage. Ultimately. Eventually. I would reach the end of that training. I'm there. I sat criss cross apple sauce in the bay of that army helicopter. Looking at that cargo hook. That was installed. Backward. To leave it that way. Meant. That I would not pass that task on my first try. I would be given another opportunity to do it to, and in that opportunity, I would install it correctly within the allotted time. And I would pass that task and ultimately graduate from the school. However, I would no longer be eligible to be the honor graduate. That choice is what was weighing heavily on my mind in that moment. It took me well over half the allotted time to install this cargo hook. Could I. Uninstalling and re-install it correctly in the time allotted. I didn't know. But I did know that doing nothing. I would lose my goal. That was unacceptable. So I took a breath and I jumped in. I uninstalled it to, and in that instance, When I had cemented and concretized my mindset, when I told myself again, I was going to lean into this uncomfortable job. I was going to overcome it. When I spoke that into the universe. I got a shot of adrenaline. And my mind figured out exactly how to get this re-installed correctly and quickly. And I did. I got it. Re-installed it was re-installed correctly. That was what was on my mind. When I stood on that graduation platform. At graduation. Those higher ups at the school who repeatedly pulled me out of training to question me. Too. Put me in a spot where I had to get really uncomfortable and insist on justice for myself. They're the ones who had to pin the wings on my uniform. And the army achievement medal. For coming out on top. I don't even remember their names. But I remember that I prevailed. That decision. And following through with that decision to prevail. That was a pivotal moment for me in my life. At 18 years old, I was faced with the situation that was completely impossible for me to do. And I did it. I chose to do it, and I did it. That still carries through. In my life, all of these years later. When I went to college and face difficult spots. Piece of cake. I had already accomplished the impossible, the hard stuff. Well, that just took a little time and effort. That decision to lean into the uncomfortable to pursue it and overcome it. Changed everything for me. It still provides me with strength and encouragement to face the difficult stuff that comes up today. I share this with you. So that you too can find it within yourself. To choose the mindset that will allow you to prevail in your life. Decide who you want to be, speak it into the universe. And manifest it. No, I'm going to tell you the truth here. When you speak it into the universe. The universe is going to come back at you and say, are you sure you're up for this? Are you sure this is what you want? And there will be obstacles along the way for you to again, decide. And to prove that that is who you are and what you want and how you want to move through this world. Lean into the uncomfortable. Overcome it. And that will multiply your life and the possibilities you have for your life.