As 2016 is coming to a close, I am realising that it has been a year with more ‘official’ exits than entrances – more goodbyes than hellos.
Granted, most of these goodbyes were not really ‘goodbye forever’… They were mostly ‘see you later.’ But it is still upsetting that that is just how life works – like a revolving door with people entering and leaving all the time.
I know, I know… It has always been this way. Why am I being dramatic like its a new revelation? Well maybe because it has become more evident this year.
From my internship to graduation to basic military training (BMT) and the most recent vocational training, I have had to say goodbye to many different groups of people over the year. Some were easier than others cough BMT cough but I still wish that I did not have to officially say goodbye to that many groups of people… In less than a year. It certainly does not feel normal especially for a creature of habit like myself.
Now, I am not writing about this to dwell on it but rather because I wanted to acknowledge the feeling and thought. Now that I have done that I can move on to telling you about the eight weeks of vocational training that I underwent from mid-September to mid-November.
But first, after BMT ended, I had a week and a half-long break. I used that time to regroup and reorganise, catch up with friends and family and of course, laze at home with daily doses of reality TV and sitcoms – same ol’, same ol’.
But it was also during this short break that I finally started the process of revamping my room. I had a light blue and gold aesthetic in mind and so the first step was naturally to paint my dull purple walls blue. My Mum was kind enough to help me and we managed to finish it in a day.
The end-result turned out better than I expected. The blue gave the room a sort of natural-reflective glow when light shines in through the window. And my room definitely felt fresher. It was also one of the rare times that I actually followed through on one of my impulses so that was nice too.
Over the next few weekends I continued the room revamping process by printing polaroids and putting them up in photo frames. As of right now, the room is still lacking gold decor and a couple of things lying around need to be either removed or upgraded. I plan on taking my time to complete the revamping process as I only have my weekends to spare. At the very least, it will serve as a creative outlet for me over the weekends – a break from the daily mundane military activities.
The morning of the Friday before the break ended was when everyone found out which vocation, camp and unit they got posted to. Now, most people have a rough idea of what vocation they want after BMT. As for me, I had little to no knowledge on the different vocations.
I knew I had no chance of going to command school – I had not expressed interest. So that was one less possibility I had to worry about. For the most part, I was not feeling nervous. I was feeling hopeful. Hopeful for something decent and reasonable compared to BMT. So I was satisfied to find out that my vocation would be Signals.
Back in BMT, my buddy who was a Signals regular, had given me the impression that the Signals job scope was more technical than physical. Upon further Googling, I learnt that a Signaller basically ensures that communication is possible during times of war – using antennas, radios, satellites, etc. And most people on forums also felt that the eight week vocational training I was about to start was pretty relaxed. So with all this gathered information, I felt pretty calm.
I remember this weird feeling I had during the first two days at the new camp surrounded by new people. Every single person I met reminded me of someone I already knew – either from BMT or school. It felt like no one was original but rather just rip-offs. I wondered if I had reached the maximum capacity of new people I could meet in a year. But soon, I started seeing people for who they were instead of comparing them to people I already knew.
Now, two months later, I am happy to say that there are a couple of cool people that I plan on keeping in touch with. I connected with people thanks to Marvel comics, being able to appreciate the Kardashians and shared opinions on people and situations in camp. I also met like-minded individuals who I connected with on a whole ‘nother level and I had conversations with them that I have never had before.
With these people around, time spent in camp flew by pretty fast. It did not take me too long to adapt to this new lifestyle. We had a night out almost every week which allowed me to settle my cravings. Other times, we would order in discreetly.
Physical trainings were scheduled for only twice a week and they were pretty decent in intensity compared to BMT. I did not mind that our training schedule had our days filled with lessons as I definitely prefer studying compared to doing something physical – especially in the army.
This meant that our days often ended around three to four in the afternoon. And we had brought in card and board games like Scrabble, Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens and Uno to pass time.
You would think that it was all sunshine and rainbows but it was around the halfway mark when I felt my morale was really low. I got frustrated trying to understand the theories behind what we were being taught – it had to do with physics which for a media student like myself is so four years ago. There was quite a lot to memorise for weekly tests and I hated not understanding what I was trying to remember.
It is really damaging to your morale when you find yourself having to attempt things that you are not good at week after week. This feeling had probably been building up since the BMT days.
On top of that, I started to wonder if I had become too comfortable around my platoon mates that I started rubbing them the wrong way with my constant barrage of energy that might come across as annoying.
The dip in morale really made me miss the poly days and the people who came with that. I missed being creative. I missed working with a group of people to bring ideas to life. I missed being around people who I knew loved – or at least liked – me for who I am.
But it all came down to me having to care a little less.
- Now that I am at my post-vocational training unit, I know that about 75% of what we learnt is irrelevant to my new unit.
- Those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind. Only time will tell who sticks around.
I do think that those two months of vocational training I underwent might just be the best two months of my National Service.
On book-in days, I only felt nervous about my Uber arriving on time instead of what the week ahead had in store for me. This is a huge contrast to the BMT days when I felt anxious every book-in day – from the morning at home until night in camp, when we could retreat to our bunks.
Now, I am at my post-vocational training unit. Things are… Same, same but different? It’s been three weeks but I still feel like I have not been around long enough to figure out how I feel about the way things work here. It is probably because December is not the busy period and so I am cautiously waiting for things to get hectic before I finalise how I feel. But of course, when I have it figured out, you know you can read all about it here.
Until next time,
P.S: I have tried inserting this portion into the post above but it just ruined the flow. When I started writing this post I was not expecting to reflect on the passing of a relative. It definitely adds a darker layer to this post so I decided to insert it at the end.
My uncle passed away this past week and the funeral was held yesterday. I was not very close to him but seeing the people you love cry, is heartbreaking. It definitely hurts to see the people you love hurting. At the same time, seeing how family came together and stayed strong at different points for each other was really beautiful and admirable.
Now, I am generally feeling okay. But the pessimist in me makes me worry by looking at the bigger picture. This is not the last funeral I am going to have to attend. Everyone is only getting older and death is an inevitable part of growing up and growing old. As an emotional person, the thought of losing loved ones is something that has kept me up on random nights. The optimist in me has yet to find a way to defeat the pessimist when it comes to dealing with ‘loss.’