I get asked a lot, “Why did you join the Marine Corps?” For most Marines the answer is always the same.

“I wanted to do something bigger with my life.”

“I was heading downhill.”

“I didn’t want to get stuck in my hometown.”

Well… I’m no different from all of these people. Like I said before, I am from Garden City, Kansas. If you have never been there then let me tell you… there is not much going on. It is a fairly small town, with little to do. If anyone would like to get a little taste of this town then feel free to check out this video. It’s a short video created by a very talented, Travis Young.

The only thing to look forward to in that town is family. I have a very close knit family and they are extremely important to me. I’ve never understood how families can be so disconnected, but then again I do not know others situations, so I can’t even try to put myself in other people’s shoes.

Now don’t get me wrong, Garden City has grown immensely since I have moved away. New shopping stores, new restaurants, even a new indoor water park! This is a huge deal for a little town like mine.

But growing up there had its many challenges. I struggled with friends growing up. Up until high school I was definitely not “popular”. I remember days I would come home bawling my eyes out just because I felt so alone. You know how girls are at that young age, so full of angst. One girl I connected with was Cheyenne, we were “Bestest friends forever”. We would do everything together. One time we literally went out and bought the same outfit, dressed up in it, did our hair the same, and went to the zoo to take pictures. We were inseparable.

Telling this story is pretty embarrassing because I look back on it now and see how ridiculous it is! Well another girl started hanging out with us, (well mostly with Cheyenne). And I was not too fond of her. Her name was Haley. Bless her heart, she is an amazing woman to this day. But being the angsty adolescent I was, I was extremely jealous of their friendship. Because “you can only have one best friend!” Haha. I would fight for my best friends attention every day, and when Haley would win her over for the day I would go home crying. Yes I know… it’s embarrassing. So here’s to you Haley, for not punching me in the face when you should have.

So moving on. In high school I grew some little boobs and my face wasn’t as zitty. I was 13 when I started high school though so I still wasn’t the most “developed”. I moved up in the world. It’s crazy to look back and see how important being popular was to me. I just wanted people to like me. When you grow up unpopular, stuff like that begins to gain importance in your life. So to all those outcasts who are just going through the motions, day by day, wishing it would all end, things will change. Popularity will not mean a damn thing and your priorities will be completely different, trust me.

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Here is a picture of me and one of my friends Casey. She will probably hate me for posting this but I think it’s necessary. I am the shorter one in the jean skirt and the I heart Monkeys shirt. This is what I mean by very unpopular haha. I was a late bloomer.

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Here is another lovely photograph of my birthday party. Can you guess which one I am? Yep… the one in the orange dress, the only one not being normal.

But things change… and people change. Boy did I change.

High school was a mix of emotions and experiences. I started hanging out with the “party crowd” and started rebelling. I even remember my first cigarette. I was driving around with two other girls, Lexi and Lindsee. Driving around was the cool thing to do back then. One of them pulls out cigarettes and offers me one. I’ve never been good with peer pressure so I didn’t even hesitate. Let me just say that was the start of a terrible addiction.

Drinking, getting high, smoking cigarettes, sneaking out, became a normal thing for me. But hey, I was a teenager. This type of behavior was pretty normal. Here is the problem, I have never been able to get away with ANYTHING. I do something once and always get caught. It is still like this to this day! Bad luck is something I will always carry.

I remember my senior year, I was the drum major of our marching band. I never drank before a game because I had to lead the band, and it just seemed like a terrible thing to do. But one day before the football game I convinced my friend Valeria to drink some wine with me before the game. I literally drank ONE glass of wine. Well me being the person I am, got caught. Not exactly got caught… but got tattled on. Long story short I was suspended from school.

After getting caught doing stupid crap so many times, you start to question what you’re doing with your life. And that’s when it began, that’s when I decided to make a change. Little did I know what was ahead of me.

I enlisted in the Marine Corps. Oorah