I feel like I'm not a real man because I didn't go into the military when I was 18. I'm 24 now, and feel like less off a man in comparison to my enlisted peers. I was a touring musician and thought that would take off, I'm still involved with music but I feel like a big pussy compared to everyone else that's in the military.

I have a huge interest in military-anything. I guess growing up without a father figure hindered me from learning all these things like working hard and manly things like hunting and fishing and using my hands to fix things.  I was raised by my mom and sisters, but i started realizing about a year or two ago, that I was being a sheltered dweeb for the huge chunk part of my life.

I guess because i dont have a fight to fight, I don't feel like a man. and I want to teach my son how to do things my father never taught me.

emotional rant over... ha

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The overwhelming majority of adult men aren't soldiers, and we surely don't all suffer from strong feelings of regret over not joining (or more of us would have done it).  I don't think what's missing from your life is the military experience, valuable as that might be.  I expect you have inner messages (not a real man, big pussy, sheltered dweeb) that need dealing with.  The military might well knock 'em out of you; there are other ways.

If you wanted to join the military, not to deal with inner shame but to serve the world, please God, find your best career, etc., it is not too late -- for any branch, as far as I can tell.  http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/a/enlage.htm?rd=1

Yeah you're right. I guess I just don't really know where God is calling me to be. I'm passionate about music, I just want to live a purpose driven life and I guess the only thing that made sense was to enlist. I'm in a rut, I suppose.

thanks Will!

I knew a few good soldiers who were also good musicians. Don't think you have to give up music to serve. I don't know how good you are, not that that much matters when it comes to musical success, but what you might have to give up is dreams of stardom, at least while you're serving. You may still do a few tours, though.

The current wars may be winding down, but no need for pessimism. There will be others. Just wait it out. But if you need to be an action hero pronto, maybe join the Coast Guard. They're not under DoD anymore, so they're not exactly military, I don't think, but those guys ought to stay pretty busy in peacetime.

I would agree with Shane. You want to know if you're up to the physical/mental/moral challenge. Talk to some recruiters from different branches. See which culture would best fit your personality. If you have a college degree, become an officer.

You will have four years of a solid job, good travel, opportunities for education afterwards, and a wide network of contacts in almost any industry. Drawbacks include lack in independence--you don't get to choose where you go or what your job is, necessarily--long hours and demanding work. But you will have the pride that goes along with service.

Pride and such is fine. But the military does not make the man. If it is what your heart tells you is right, more power to you. You could also consider joining the national guard, and serve your country in a very direct fashion.

"Any man can fight his enemies, but it takes a real man to reach out his hand to his own kin."

Well said! In fact, an alternate idea may appeal to you. In addition to the armed forces (and their unarmed branches), there are numerous civilian para-military organizations that can not only provide you with a sense of accomplishment and self-worth, but may have more tangible benefits as well. You don't have to travel half way around the world and carry a gun to be a hero. For example, my fire department provides excellent healthcare coverage and, after 2 years of work, education reimbursement up to a master's degree! Plus, as i said, the healthcare is better (my part-time job has a contract with the VA hospitals. Calling them that is a sick joke, at best), and most paid departments offer pension plans based on years of service.Another plus, you don't have to worry about being relocated, family and all, on the DoD's whim. Just a thought.

I came to the same sheltered dweeb revelation much later, around age 47. Because of that I have way less options than you; if you feel you must enlist do it now, years have a way of flying by.

You are romanticizing  the military.  You chose a different path.  It should not take a particular event to make you a "man".  It is about how you conduct your interactions with people and things.  It is about living a thoughtful life, not if you joined some club or worked for the government.   Military in the USA is only about 2% or so of the population.

Go learn what you want to teach your son.  Then teach him.  But don't think the military would have given you a father figure.

Well said!

Joining the military is always an option, I suppose. Each truly worthwhile profession will have its strengths, though. That is (it seems to me) an academic will be very literate because of his job, whereas a soldier may have to work extra on that, but on the other hand an academic will have to work harder to keep himself in good condition, able to defend his loved ones, etc. They may both feel at a loss when their car breaks down, unlike the mechanic or handyman. That's what hobbies are for.

I'm working on something similar. I'm pretty good at academic stuff, I love thinking abstractly and reading, but I'm weak in some other areas. I've thought of joining the military, they'd pay me to learn a lot of skills I want. But where I am I'll be paid for improving my more abstract knowledge. My choice? I'm traveling alone on the cheap in Siberia, learning a lot including self-reliance and confidence. When I get back I'll be in graduate school (plenty of intellectual fun) and working out, learning brazilian jiu-jitsu, wilderness survival, and hunting on my own time and dime. I found that Brett's article on Mr. T summed it up nicely. Also remember, being hard-core (or tough, or badass, or whatever) is in the activity. I'm learning about independent travel by setting parameters (Russia's actually fairly safe, so I probably won't die or get seriously injured) and then jumping in and doing it.

Buddy I’ll shoot straight with you. It sounds like you’re depressed. Depressed because you didn’t live up to your own standard of excellence. First you need to sit down and write down what experiences would make you feel happy and successful at life. Thus defining your own standard of excellence to yourself. When you think you’re done, think up another ten. Then start making micro lists about how to accomplish them and get at it. (Yes, some things you will never be able to tackle due to other commitments. Don’t chase your tail on those, decide to do it or move on.)


Now simply sit down a write a list. List all the things you want to do in small steps. For example- Challenge myself physically.

  • Pick a competition to enter – (Grapplers Quest for example)
  • Find a Training Center
  • Sign Up
  • Start Training
  • Pick a date a year out
  • Get ready for this challenge
  • Compete
  • Win or Lose, lesson learned and experience had

Now you can teach your son about competition, self-defense and athletics!!

Get more accustomed to using your hands to work on your car.

  • Pick some tasks – (Change oil and do a tune up for example)
  • Read up on the subject and watch some youtube tutorials
  • Set up a resource to call if you run into trouble or to walk you through it
  • Buy some tools
  • Set your car up in a safe place and do it

Now you can teach your son to work with his hands, if he wants something done right do it himself, how to take care of a machine that takes care of you and the joy of working on your own car.


On another note-

When I was in college I fell into the same rut. I was 19 and didn’t know what I wanted out of life. I was in college but didn’t choose any direction. I was in a philosophy class where a professor said the Greek’s thought Polymaths had the most fulfilling lives. I took to this concept and still do. The concept is to become a complete human. (Also known as a Renaissance man) My professor’s take on it was a four prong approach formal education, competition, arts and philosophical exchanges. I found personal happiness trying to fill in those pieces of my life. (Besides for the true happiness I find in my son and wife) Food for thought hope it helps something man.

Your fight to fight can be your journey to becoming a better man!



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