Did I Make The Right Decision? Questions from Naval Academy Mids

Ever since I wrote “Things I Wish They Told Me At The Naval Academy” I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with a lot of mids and prospective mids who have questions about what it’s like at the Academy, after the Academy and after the Navy.  Here are some questions that I got today, I hope you enjoy them.

Was it hard to get out of the navy after your 5 years were up?

It was easier knowing I had something else I was passionate about doing.  It’s never easy to leave something you’ve been involved in for nine years, and everyone goes through their own struggles and challenges.

Were you always sure you were making the right decision?

Every decision I make is the right decision.  I know it sounds a little spiritual or cheesy, but I don’t live with regrets.  How am I to really know if I made the right decision?  Even if I do something that causes me suffering, do I really know that’s the not the best path for me?  I can’t, so I don’t get caught up in that.

There is a huge nugget of wisdom here, and you are not the first person to ask this type of question, it’s something I ponder for myself all the time.  What’s actually going on is you are trying to predict or worry about how you will feel in the future.  You have no idea.  Right now, you have absolutely no idea what being at the Naval Academy is like.  When you’re at the Naval Academy you will have absolutely no idea what the fleet is like.  When you’re in the fleet, you will have no idea what being a civilian is like.  It’s just not possible to know, yet we try and try to predict it.  It’s so insane.  Think about it this way.  If I asked you now, “would you like to attend the U.S. Naval Academy”, you would say “yes”.  How do you know?  Because right now, you want to.  Are you worried that you don’t want to?  No, of course not, because you are here, now, wanting it.  When the time comes to stay in or get out of the Navy, you’ll ask yourself the same question, and you’ll be just as certain (or not), but you won’t have any idea what that will be like until you get there.

Did you want to pursue music before you went to the academy?

I didn’t think I could until I realized two things.  1. Being 27 years old isn’t too old to start something.  and 2. I could do a whole lot in my music career while I was in the Navy, I didn’t have to wait until I got out.  So to answer that question, I didn’t know, but I knew I loved performing for people.

I don’t want my desire to become and actor to fade if I go there.

You actually don’t know that.  What if you go to the Academy and it turns out you fall more in love with something else?  It’s funny, because even now, you know me as someone who is pursuing a music career, but that’s actually not what I’m most in love with.  In the last year, I’ve put music on the back burner and become an author, speaker and coach.  I work with men and women to help them live extraordinary lives.  I totally love it.  I love it so much that I would trade shows with my kick ass band in front of hundreds of people for it.  How do I know?  I did.  Did I think I was going to feel this way 3 years ago?  Absolutely not, I was dead set on a music career.  Turns out that changed.  You have no idea how you’ll feel in 9 years.  I have no idea how I’m going to feel in one month!  Right now I’m engaged and living with a girl I met 6 months ago.  If you asked me 7 months ago if I thought I’d be engaged by the end of the year I would have thought that was crazy.  Turns out it wasn’t so crazy.  Who wants a predictable life anyway?  I love being surprised.  My life is like a movie that I’ve never seen before.  I have no idea what comes next and I can’t rewind it.



Other USNA articles I’ve written: USNA Articles

How to be Cool and Tough at the Naval Academy

I wrote this with my roommates in 2004.  We posted it on a silly website back when the internet was a bunch of crappy html sites.  I talked about it today and after googling it, found that someone had found it, copied it and put it on their site.  It’s still alive!  This is pretty much all inside jokes from the Naval Academy but for those who went, it might just make your day (especially if you are a current mid).

***Important Note: “Cool and Tough” is SATIRE!  It was a play on a website that a fraternity put up, making fun of frat guys.  See the original How to be a Cool and Tough Fraternity Guy.  Our version of cool and tough is making fun of people who do this, not endorsing it…***

How to be Cool at Tough at USNA
written by Dave Boodakian, c/o 2005 and roommates who may want to remain nameless

How To Be a Cool and Tough Plebe

1. Tell people how cool and tough you were in high school. Make sure everyone knows how many touchdowns you scored senior year, and how many girls you got with at the mad keggers you’re buddies threw. The only acceptable answers for the question “what position did you play” are quarterback, running back, full back or linebacker. All these positions are reserved for people who are cool and tough.

2. Being ratey is cool and tough. The coolest plebes are the ones that rate what they skate. The most important thing to remember about being a ratey plebe is to tell everyone the things you get away with. You may or may not have done these things, but telling people that you do them anyway will give them the impression that you are cool and tough.

3. Be a varsity athlete. This term may extend from football player to water polo manager. Hey, at least you don’t have to drill. Going to drill is neither cool nor tough. Because you are a varsity athlete you can brag about all the cool and tough MO’s you go on, and how many upperclass you are friends with. You are excused from wednesday evening formation, which means you don’t have to get in uniform. Most cool and tough athletes eat in Dahlgren but Chinese take-out is an acceptable alternative. King Hall and Cluck-U chicken are neither cool nor tough.

4. Never go to saturday morning training. All kinds of company training are neither cool nor tough. Anyone who goes is either a Joe or just happens to be up that early. Always find ways to get out of training, even if it involves bending the truth about scheduled events (see “Be a varsity athlete”).

5. Always brag about how cool and tough your squad is. When in Chemistry class (and not asleep), tell other plebe friends how your squad is so chill and you never have to know any rates. This may not be true, but they will never know. Play it off like you are the reason your squad is so chill, and if you weren’t so cool and tough, they would flame on you.

6. Never request permission for anything. 98% of the upperclass won’t yell at you, and only half of them may even care. Let’s face it, they are just gonna say yes anyway, why not just go ahead and do it. Even if someone happens to care, it’s not like they aren’t going to let you become a youngster.

7. Put cool and tough pictures of high school on your corkboard. There is no better way to prove you are cool and tough than by photographic evidence. Pictures of you drinking with buddies or with crazy-hot chicks are a necessity. When your guy friends ask about the smokin’ girls in your pictures you can say something like, “Yeah, I hooked up with her a bunch of times, it was pretty cool… and tough.”

8. Always complain about the girls. You have gotten with so many hot girls that seeing the lack of hotties at the Naval Academy is a gross injustice. Whenever possible you should comment on the idea of “dark siding”. Dating another midshipman is never cool or tough, no matter how cool she may seem. Dark-siding is for quitters.”

How to be a Cool and Tough Youngster

1. Spoon plebes the first time you meet them. Training is not cool, or tough. You are not a middle-aged man and don’t need to be called “Mr. Cool”, or “Mr. Tough”, “dude” or “man” will sufice. When talking about plebes to your youngster friends, it is always cool and tough to refer to the plebes by their first names, especially if your friends have no idea who you’re talking about.

2. Always tell plebes how cool and tough you were as a plebe. Plebes are impressed by anything, and they will believe anything. Tell them things like “I was so cool and tough, I walked out of Bancroft (never call it “Mother-B”) in civies, drunk and on a friday while all my non-tough and cool friends were shining shoes”.

3. Wear cool and tough PE gear. Now that you’re a youngster and you can wear un-reg PE gear, the possibilities are limitless. Always spend at least 10 minutes planning out what cool, un-reg PE gear you will wear that night. Examples of cool and tough attire include but are not limited to, winter working blue pants with flip-flops and a wife-beater, sweat pants with a tight undershirt and worn out sneakers (PT gear), and anything that has your varsity team’s name on it. Slippers and blue-rims are neither cool nor tough. It is cool and tough to own as many underground tee-shirts as possible. The underground tee-shirt guy is cool and tough. Anyone who wishes to be cool and tough must own at least 4 items from underarmour. Underarmour will make anyone look cool and tough.

4. Excersize your right to carry-on. Now that you don’t have to slime around the P-ways, there are plenty of other options available to you. A cool and tough youngster may consider a razor scooter or a skateboard. You don’t actually need to be good at riding you just need to make a lot of noise as you skate your way to sign taps every night. It is also cool and tough to make sure all the plebes see you while you show off your newfound freedom.

5. Have cool and tough uniform standards. People who spend time making their uniform look good are not cool and tough. Ironing military creases is time you could have been spending arranging you run-reg PE gear for that night. For youngsters only insignia on your winter working blues shirt is necessary. Any other insignia, especially on ike jackets, raincoats, p-coats and overcoats are neither cool nor tough. Wearing a scarf with your overcoat is never, ever, cool or tough. The words shirt stay should not even be uttered in your presence. If it is, it is cool and tough to roll your eyes, look up and say something like, “maybe shirt stays will be cool and tough when mustangs go out of style!”

6. Give cool and tough come-arounds. Everyone knows come-arounds are not cool and tough, but if you have to do them, there are ways of ensuring you are cool and tough. First, never hold your come-around in any type of uniform, even reg PE gear is questionable. Second, look at the pro-book like it’s written in greek, or any other cool and tough language that you don’t know. Say things like, “wow, I was way too cool and tough to actually look at any of this shit when I was a plebe.” Third, assume your plebe knows the whole book and you are just wasting his time. If he gets a question wrong just play it off like that kind of question would never be asked anyway. “Ok well you don’t know the mission? They never ask that crap anyway…”

How to be a Cool and Tough 2/c

1. Never train plebes. Training plebes is not cool and tough. Though it may be your job, there are plenty of other homo’s to do it for you. Whenever possible you should make commments about your classmates who train, and say things like, “wow, what a Joe” in front of as many people possible.

2. Civilian clothes are always cool and tough. You can wear civilian clothes, and they will make you cool and tough. Even on days where you can’t leave because of duty, civilian clothes must still be worn. Having a key chain that you can twirl around your finger is also cool and tough. After coming back from a weekend on Sunday, it is cool and tough to stay in civies until you go to bed, it doesn’t matter that you’re not on liberty anymore.

3. Only play a sport if the sport is cool and tough. Everyone knows that as a plebe, doing any kind of sport is cool and tough. Now that you have privileges, a car and more weekends, sports will just take time away from your busy schedule of boozing and picking up chicks. The only acceptable sports to play are football (not sprint), basketball, lacrosse and rugby, because they can drink a lot. Other sports such as sailing and swimming are not cool and tough. Rowing crew is about as cool and tough as a bag full of dicks.

4. PT like you’re cool and tough. Everyone has to PT. To make sure you are always cool and tough while doing PT, you should make sure you get some things straight. To be tough, you have to be strong and have big muscles. The only way to get big is to go to the gym, and the only cool gym is ‘MacD’ (unless you can go to Ricketts). You should never be in regulation PE gear in MacD and having tee-shirts that your little brother should be wearing is always enouraged. Doing pull-ups in the hall on the metal bars is not cool and tough.

How to be a Cool and Tough Firstie

1. Don’t hold a billet. A true cool and tough firstie is an MIR both semesters. Let your Joe classmatess have the stripes and run the company. Stripes mean responsibility, and that can only get in the way of you getting drunk and hooking up with girls. If you have to have a billet, make sure itis something like wardroom, so you part of your job can be buying beer for tailgaters.

2. Go out every night. It is your duty to go out every night, even if you’ve got homework, EI, meetings, or anything else to do. That other stuff isn’t import. What is that important is that you make an ass out of yourself in DTA five nights a week (and Wednesdays at the O club). A cool and tough firstie knows where all the drink specials are for every night of the week.

3. Don’t go to formations. This is just one of those perks of being a firstie, and you deserve to take advantage of it. Bully your platoon sergeant into marking you present for every formation, whether or not you’re actually there. This is especially important for morning formations. Since you’re a firstie with all that liberty, you’ll need the extra sleep time in the morning to recover from all the beer you drank the night before. When you finally do get up, be sure to brag to all your friends about how drunk you got last night, and don’t bother taking a shower or shaving before you go to class.

4. Always get a good parking space. This applies even if you’re rolling in through Gate 1 Sunday evening. Even though it’s hopeless, take a loop around Farragut and Dewey trying to find a space. Remember, if you’re smart, you’ve got your platoon sergeant marking you present, so you have time to spare. Finally settle on a parking space at Hospital Point, then spend the rest of the night bitching to anyone who’ll listen about having to walk all the way back from out there. Or be “that guy” that parks on the grass or somewhere where it’s obvious you’re not allowed to, then bitch when you get your stickers scraped.

5. Have an apartment in town. You’ve gotta have a place to have your crazy parties and hook up with all the girls you do, right? Of course you’re not supposed to do it, but this is one of those rules that only the pussies follow.

6. Make the right service selection. The only cool and tough service selection is Navy pilot. Your stereotypes about all submariners being gay and all Marines being uptight pricks are absolutely right. The only way you’re going to keep impressing girls once you get out of here is if you can tell them you fly a jet. And if your low OOM keeps you from getting pilot, remember, it’s not your fault. Those losers who studied and played the Man’s game for four years are tools, and besides, they won’t have four years worth of cool and tough stories like you will. In a few circumstances, SWO is an acceptable alternative, but only if you’re so cool and tough that you can’t handle wasting more than five years of your life in the Fleet.

Other Naval Academy articles I’ve written: USNA Articles

Who I am.

I’m not a democrat.

I’m not a republican.

I’m not a religion.

I’m not an atheist.

I’m not my job.

I’m not my college.

I’m not a veteran.

I’m not a war protestor.

I’m not my hometown.

I’m not my current town.

I’m not my hobbies.

I’m not my passion.

I’m not my skin color.

I’m not my ethnicity.

I’m not my name.

I am.

Who are you?

Seeing Through the Eyes of a Woman

There is a fundamental truth that I believe and celebrate every day I’m lucky enough to interact with women. In her heart, every woman wants the best for me. She wants every man to be whom he is meant to be, so he can show up and give his greatest gift to the world. It is our calling to live with purpose, and women will always be our greatest asset.

In a world where fathers aren’t always able to teach sons and society imprints mixed messages to men throughout their whole lives, one thing will always remain true.

The man women yearn for, is the man you were meant to be.

I believe this with every bone in my body. If we understood how to tap into the wisdom of women, and learned to see ourselves through their eyes, it would be the single greatest factor in helping men transform into who the world needs them to be. Men spend their whole lives in the social laboratory of life making hypotheses, doing experiments and drawing conclusions, only to try and get closer to an authentic self. How do we calibrate ourselves? More than money, success, fame, job title, net worth or other men, we calibrate ourselves through women. The fastest way to transformation is by getting the answer key to a woman’s brain. Learn how to be the man that she needs and you will never be lonely. Learn how to be the man that all women want and you will happily step into the role your whole life was meant for.

For more of my work in this area, visit themaleblueprint.com

Do you really know me?

I’ve spent a lot of time lately with people I’ve known for a long time, some family, some friends. It got me thinking about what it really means to know someone. In general, if someone asks “do you know John?” you base your answer on how much time you’ve spent with that person. You might say “yes, I know John really well, we were roommates” or “certainly, John is my brother”. I recently got an email from someone who knows me, and also enjoys my music, but we’ve only spent a handful of time talking and in the same room. In her email she wrote the phrase “even though I hardly know you”, and it really made me think. I’ve spent years and years with people who are extremely close to me, but I don’t feel that they know me half as well as this girl does. Really knowing someone is often something that’s taken for granted in today’s society. Much like what it takes to truly love someone, knowing them is about accepting them for who they are, which is not easy. It gets even harder the more you have invested in that person. For many parents, really knowing their children is one of the hardest tasks in the world, because it means completely and totally accepting that person for who they are, not who you want them to be, and not who you’d like them to be as it relates to a reflection of you.

As a musician and a songwriter, nothing is better than when you feel that someone truly knows you through your music. It’s the reason artists create, and it’s the rarest of people that can understand you and make you feel understood. More than power, more than wealth, more than life long love, I feel our greatest desire as human beings is to be known, to be understood. That level of understanding doesn’t come through years together and it’s the root of our problems in relationships. We don’t always seek to understand each other and our efforts are directed toward changing others instead of a deep level of acceptance. I’m certainly guilty of this on many, many accounts, and I also know how it feels to be misunderstood. The more we have invested in someone, the harder it is to accept them, and the less you really know that person. It’s a sad thought to think that the person you had a 30 minute conversation with at Starbucks might know you better than your parents or even your wife, but for most people, it’s true, and we feel it.

Think about the people who you think you know in your life. Especially if you have a lot invested in them, have you really taken the time to get to know them? Have you gone above and beyond to understand and accept them on a deep level? I can think of a handful of people in my life who truly understand me, and it’s not always the people I spend the most time with. Their existence makes such a difference in my life and I’m eternally grateful for their gifts to me.

You have the power to give that gift, and you can give that to anyone you wish, even in just a few hours at Starbucks.