In the fall of 2021, I started my graduate program at UW-Milwaukee. During this period, I was also formally ending my service in the Navy. For years I lingered in the Individual Ready Reserve, yet I still found myself preserving material traces from life on active duty. I began to question why I continued to style a “high and tight” haircut or wear the Randolf Aviator Frames issued to me in flight school. My own reflection revealed the truth.
My reflection serves as a reminder that my time to honor the commitment I made to my country is dwindling. The wrinkles and gray strands of hair peppered throughout my head and beard are evidence of this. And now, as I approach my mid-thirties, my body continuously reminds me that I have passed my prime.
I realize that part of me will always yearn to honor the oath, but I am slowly learning to let go of who I once was in order to embrace who I wish to become.