Recently, as I approach my commissioning, I have been reflecting quite a bit. Was it worth it? Did I regret making the decision that I have made 11 years ago? What could I have done better?
I was scrolling mindlessly through Tik-Tok and I came across this short clip from House. The leading actor was given solidarity confinement for administering aspirin to an inmate. It sparked some thoughts, and I left this comment – “Sometimes, you may fall really hard just to do the right thing. Do it nonetheless.”
This reminded me of my journey towards officership. Then again, we can always show conviction toward wrong choices as well. So how do we really know? I guess we can never know for sure. But we can know better through conversations and reflection.
My wife asked me if I am shooting myself in my own foot when I mentioned my OCS journey during the interview and reflection for the SOH selection. I also realised that perhaps it does not paint such a nice picture before she reminded me. There could be some apprehension when endorsing me to be the SOH considering that I have voluntarily left OCS before and similarly if I am the commander who is making the decision, I might have the same consideration. I would not want to glorify this because I do not want others to do the same. Likewise, this would be my concern if I were the commander who is choosing the SOH. Others might think that it is okay to quit OCS because you can come back and finish it if it turns out to be a wrong decision. I can personally assure you that it is not the case.
Was it the right thing to do? Given my circumstances and mindset, what else could I have done? Stayed on as an unmotivated cadet and try to drag everyone down? Or leave and try to find a place where I can be fully committed? Until today, I still find that we should not be hanging around if we are not committed to officership. Yet, when I see some of my counterparts today leaving the course because they lost their sense of purpose, I can’t help but feel that it is a waste. How many of them will make their way back as I did? I am not too optimistic about the numbers. And that would mean that we have lost one potential leader in the SAF. The best way out of this is to ensure that we do not lose these people in the first place. When I came out of BMT, I was passionate, motivated and driven. I wanted to make a difference. But merely days into OCS, I started questioning why things are done as such. I failed to understand the rationale and I can’t help but think that I am wasting my time. It took many years before I had the maturity and perspective to understand what exactly was going on. I was expecting a perfect system, but the system is never perfect. Today, I hope to make it a little better.
Looking back, would I have chosen to commission smoothly at the first attempt, without full conviction right at the start and leaving it to chance that I will somehow understand what it means to serve? Or would I rather take one big round, finally commissioning 11 years later when everyone else had moved on with life but being fully sure that I am fully committed and convicted in the cause? I paid dearly for my decision. But as painful as it is, I stick by what I have said before – I would rather be a good soldier than a substandard officer. Today, I hope I will be a good officer.