That Time I Thought About Quitting The Marines
In the fall of 2002, I was face down in the sand pits of Marine Corps Recruit Depot- San Diego.
Little do people know that where young men come in droves to become part of an elite fighting force happens to be right next to the San Diego Airport.
Drill Instructor Sergeant Roberts dropped to one knee as I produced push up after push up with my nose caked in grains of sands. I could hear the crackle in his voice and imagined this shit-eating grin of inflicting pain on young men like me who needed to be shaped and molded.
“Push m**herf***er. Inhale the nastiness of the dirt you belong in.”
“Aye, sir.” I pushed harder. And harder. He expected to me to break. That was his job; to weed out the ones that didn’t belong in his beloved Corps.
“You want to quit, don’t you Liguori? You’re tired of this shit. Want to go home to your mommy.”
I thought about quitting. I thought about how much of an idiot I was signing up for this shit.
Sergeant Roberts got closer next to my left ear. I could feel his eyes piercing my soul.
“You fricking push and you don’t stop.”
I kept my eyes forward, elbows locked out, my back straight.
I kept pushing until he sent us on a 3 mile run with the other drill instructor.
10 weeks later, I graduated boot camp. As I stood in formation, Sergeant Roberts approached me with a prestigious Eagle, Globe, and Anchor in hand, the sign that the blood sweat and tears had made me a Marine.
It meant everything to me. After the ceremony, I approached Sergeant Roberts, the first time I could address him as Sergeant and not sir.
“Sergeant Roberts, may I ask you something?”
He nodded in response.
“Why were you so hard on me? I mean you were hard on the others, but you were always on my ass?”
He smiled and laughed a bit.
“Liguori, you were going to quit. You were to give up on yourself. And I was not going to let you. You needed to believe in yourself like I believed in you.”
I never saw Sergeant Roberts again. I owe the man a lot. I owe him for setting me on the path that made me who I am today.
I tell you that story because perhaps, like me, you're thinking or had thought about quitting an endeavor.
Perhaps you’re wondering why you decided to do something hard or challenging in the first place.
In the struggle, there is growth. In the toughest of times, we find the answers.
We find what we are made of.
And as Sergeant Roberts told me, don’t quit. Don’t give up.
Believe in yourself like he believed in me.
It’ll all be worth it.