Guest Column

Surviving the boot camp of life — one day at a time

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Life as we all know, is not perfect all the time. It throws many things at us we may not always understand or feel like we can endure. Some days bring on tasks and challenges that from foresight seem insurmountable. However, when a difficult situation arises, there is always a way through it. One day at a time. Piece by piece.

Over the years, this is something my father has always tried to instill in me. I’m not saying that I always listened to his advice, but it was always in the back of my mind whenever things became a little rocky along the road. He would tell me not to handle everything all at once but to take it one day at a time. If that’s too much to handle, take one hour, half an hour, or even five minutes. When you put yourself in this mindset, it will become more manageable to deal with what life is presenting you at that moment.

It wasn’t until recruit training command, also known as the U.S. Navy’s boot camp, that I truly took advice this to heart. In the beginning, each day was a nightmare and I could not wait to get to graduation. From lack of sleep, making sure I was where I was supposed to be at all times, being yelled at for whatever reason my instructors saw fit and the stress of passing all my exams, I knew this was not a place that I wanted to stay any longer than I was required. Every day felt like a week, and every week felt like a month. For a guy who has a nature to take everything all in at once, I knew that if I wanted to graduate on time, taking my father’s advice would be paramount to success.

What helped me with this mindset was the clock. Because we were not authorized to wear a watch, I always looked at the clock. I would say to myself, “I’m going to worry about getting through the next 10 minutes and that’s all.” I would then continue doing whatever it was I was doing at that time. After I remembered to check the clock again, an additional 30 minutes passed by.

As boot camp went on, things became a little easier. I got used to the schedule, made some close friends and even remember having a few laughs toward the end with my division and instructors. Eventually, the eight weeks went by and I became a U.S. sailor and graduated on time with my division.

Life can put you through your own “boot camp” once in a while. When you break it up into smaller pieces, things get much easier to handle. Not that life is always a nightmare, but there are times when things feel like the struggle is never going to end. After you allow yourself to think in this mindset, things should be more manageable.

For example, when you’re really hungry and you start to eat and throw everything down your throat at once, chances are you’re going to choke. However, if you take smaller pieces and break things down, you are able to digest your food better. In life, when you break down all that you may be concerned about into manageable pieces, you will find yourself able to deal with each situation better without the pressure of fixing every part of the problem or situation at hand.

So when you find yourself worried about life and all the stress that it may present, don’t take it on all at once. Break it up and take it one day at a time. You will find that after you are able to get through one day, an hour or five minutes, it wasn’t as bad as you have thought. You will then find out you have not only gained confidence and growth as a person, but you will be able to help others along their path as well.

Stuber is an Oceanside native and U.S. Navy veteran.