‘What the heck have I gotten myself into now’

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nicole Wrisley
  • 9th Security Forces Squadron
It's an ominous sounding phrase but one that has become a theme in my life...in a good way. I was a ridiculously hyperactive child, easily distracted by shiny objects and apt to jump into things without really thinking about it first. I probably drove my poor parents crazy as I pursued one interest whole heartedly until the next new idea distracted me and took me off in another direction.

Over the years I learned to channel this restlessness and it served me pretty well when I got to my first duty station. I arrived to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., in June and it snowed the second day I was there. "What the heck have I gotten myself into?" I was out in the middle of nowhere and everyone I had spoken to in the dorms had told me there was "nothing to do here." I was going to hate it and be bored out of my mind.

At first they were right. I went to work in the missile field, came home, sat in my dorm room and generally hated life. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to do something or I was going to end up getting in trouble. My first stop was Outdoor Recreation. I was kind of an outdoorsy person and I wanted to see what they had. As I walked in, I was shocked to see an entire wall of flyers. I would never have guessed there were so many different things to offer. I decided I would try two of their activities a month. What the heck, I was bored anyway. I tried all kinds of activities, even some that I wasn't so sure I would enjoy. Some didn't work out so great, but there were a whole slew of new hobbies and places I really enjoyed. I actually started to enjoy my time in "nowhere" Montana. The job was still kind of rough but my mental status was definitely improved.

After seven years in Montana, I finally got orders to Belgium. It was a tiny NATO site with a 45 minute drive to the nearest support base. Our facility consisted of two buildings, a radar dish and a fence. Again..."What the heck have I gotten myself into?" I'm in the middle of a country where I can't even speak the language and with very little support. First I decided to take an on-line language course or two. Once I learned a bit of Dutch and French I started to travel. I joined a hiking group and every other weekend we would go explore some part of the surrounding area. While working with 18 other nationalities they began to tell me about their home countries. Travel is really easy in Europe so I began to visit all these great places my co-workers had been telling me about. All these really cool places I had seen on the National Geographic channel I was now actually seeing in real life. It was awesome.

I tried my hardest to stay overseas but reluctantly I had to come back to the US. My life theme echoed through my head as I read my Beale Air Force Base new-comer's packet and it said, "Half the fun is finding us!" As I drove through the Schneider Gate and drove, and drove, passed a herd of cows and finally came to billeting I felt just like that first day in back Montana. The difference this time was I have a few strategies I learned from my former duty stations:

Learn what kind of resources are on your base. It may sound like a shameless plug for the OAC and CAC but these guys are paid to find things to entertain us. Make them earn their pay.

Don't be afraid to try new things.

Challenging yourself is a great way to grow and keep yourself from falling into a rut. It keeps your mind active/engaged and who knows? Something you thought was going to be deadly boring could actually become your next hobby.

Just get out and do something!

I know this is a long way of saying your assignment is only as good as you make it, but I hope maybe breaking it down this way will help some of the younger troops figure out how. Maybe I can even inspire some of you older dogs to try some new tricks. Mostly though, I hope to turn "What have I gotten into now?" into "What can I get into next!"