Back in 1991, as a 22-year-old, I left home for the first time in my life and found myself in the Navy going through JOCT (I think it stood for Junior Officer (Common??) Training – basically, it was hell.
It was something like this….
I prepped on all the war movies and psyched myself up on people yelling at me and the like but it turned out to be nothing like that.
Sure I had my difficulties (the physical side was a big obstacle for me) because I HATED running and that frigging cross-country at HMAS Creswell in Jervis Bay killed me (well, it didn’t really…I made the ordeal bigger in my head…)
Regardless, I wouldn’t have gotten through training if I didn’t get the support of my division mates running alongside me and motivating me to do it within the time. Through my Navy training, I thought about giving up so many times. I was exhausted mentally and physically, I was missing my friends and my home and the environment was foreign. However, I stuck it out and I’m glad I did.
While we were going through training, I was in a division of other Midshipmen and Sub-Lieutenants – Phillip Division. We were accommodated together as a Division, we did sports as a division, and in fact, did everything as a team.
One of the things that I loved to do which gave me comfort when times were tough was that I documented my experience and observations in the Phillip Division Journal.
The journal was a large bound notebook sitting on a ledge at the entry of the hallway of Phillip Div and I used to take it into cabin (we had to call our rooms, cabins) and write in it.
Writing was my comfort and joy at Creswell. I felt I could express my ditzy self through writing what I was seeing and experiencing. The good and the bad. Our divisional officers also didn’t query what we were writing possibly, realising that it was a way for the trainees to make sense of what was happening around them.
Or maybe they just thought I was weird.
Over the years, I had often wondered what happened to that division journal and I desperately wanted to know if it was still around.
Imagine my surprise and delight when a few nights back my friend who is still a serving member, sent me a message that he had come across the journal and that he was going to scan the entries and send them to me.
I can’t believe that 28 years later, I have my naive, young 22-year-old self talking to me through these pages and I have to thank social media for allowing me to connect with someone who could bring this all back to me.
This is why I love writing so much and I have been journalling over the years.
When you capture your thoughts, reflections, observations and experiences for a brief moment in time, you can revisit them again in the future.
You recall the ups and the downs and to appreciate everything that you have gone through in your life to get you to where you are…now.
I have often thought that although I don’t have children, what I do leave behind is part of myself and my own recounting of an experience or some event in recent history.