Military Life

6 comfort zones you'll learn to break out of in the military

(Photo by Cpl. Matthew Callahan)

Nobody wants to hear the phrase, "suck it up, buttercup." But there's a reason for it outside of being plain rude. The fact is, there isn't much to be gained by complaining about something uncomfortable to others that are stuck in the same suck.

Think about it this way: it's like being stuck down in a well with a few others. What good does it do for anyone if you start whining about how you hate wells?


Everyone around you is dealing with the same problems. You can either work on improving what you can change, embrace the things you can't, and joke about the suck with everyone else — or you could just get out. These are the comfort zones you'll learn to abandon by joining the military.

1. Morning PT

Nobody wants to wake up early. Nobody. It's impossible for any human being to willingly enjoy the idea of getting less sleep because they feel the need to get some physical exercise. If that does describe you, I seriously doubt that you're a human being, but rather some sort of autonomous robot.

We do it because we must.

Robots, or just really weird people, I guess.

(Photo by Pfc. Anthony Zendejas IV)

2. The human body

Before you know it, you'll end up in communal showers. There, you'll see plenty and plenty will see you.

And we're not talking about exposed genitalia — you'll get over that real quick. You'll see sores, fluids, and all sorts of nastiness that some happens to the human body during a deployment. If you're a medic or Corpsman, expect your friends to randomly ask, "hey, doc, does this look infected to you?"

Just do everyone a favor and take your ass to the aid station if you think it is infected, Don't plop out that nastiness unannounced.

(Photo by Lt. Col. Angela Wallace)

3. Pain

It's not just knee and back pain, or "weakness leaving your body" as the PT instructor calls it. That's guaranteed. Expect an amount of unnecessary physical pain. If your battle buddy is an idiot, expect to get smoked with them. If they have a loud mouth at the bar, expect to get punched in the face at least once throughout your career.

Just get used to waking up in the morning and wondering what happened to your 18-year-old body. Be prepared to ask yourself why you're complaining about the same pains as your grandmother.

If you're airborne, don't expect your knees to ever be fully functional again.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love)

4. Lack of personal space

If you maintain a personal space bubble and feel awkward when someone comes within a foot of you, curb it. You probably shouldn't be claustrophobic either.

You won't have any room to do anything or anywhere to be by yourself.

Your only escape is to forget you're surrounded by everyone.

(Photo by Pfc. J.P. Lawrence)

5. Sharing personal details

Don't feel like spending 12 hours at a time with the options of staring at a blank wall or talking with some random person? Too bad. You're about to turn into Forrest Gump and tell them everything.

Just accept that you'll tell everyone in the smoke pit your life story. Even if you don't smoke.

(Photo by Cpl. Paul D. Zellner II)

6. Learning you're not special

Individualism is a blight on the uniformed services. It's "one team, one fight," not "everyone plus this guy." This rule applies to everyone — and not just the person crying because Sergeant gave them a dirty look. Even the troop that is damn-near Captain America is guilty if they start demanding the military start handing out opportunities.

The military doesn't owe anyone anything unless it's earned. And even earning something doesn't mean the door is now open for making more demands.

At the end of the day, we're all in the same fox hole. Enjoy the company.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Samuel Brusseau)