In the "Letter to My Former Self" series, USNA graduates lay out the advice they would give themselves as midshipmen based on their experiences as junior officers in the Navy or Marine Corps. This week's letter was written by ENS Elizabeth Miller, a surface warfare officer and 2014 graduate.
Dear MIDN Miller,
It might seem like it's a long way away, but commissioning will be here before you know it and the next thing you know you'll be nearly six months into your first division officer tour! As excited as you are to leave Mother B behind and begin your new life as a big, bad ensign take some time to enjoy what you have while you can. The friends (and maybe not-so-friends) you've made over the last four years won't be a quick chop away, and you'll go from getting the plebes to do your bidding to having a real say in what your Sailors do and accomplish on any given day.
Hang on to pro-know, and try and get as much out of your Luce Hall classes as you can because you'll wish you had later on. Stop by the laundry center, and get any uniform items you might be missing while they are still free, and if you need anything hemmed or altered take it over to 7th Wing!
Spend a little extra time with your sponsor family and if you've never made the 45 minute drive into DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival make it a point to get out there at least once before you go.
Some things I've learned that you might not realize at first but really mean a lot:
- Your guys work really hard, and no matter what else you might have going on, make time to spend some time with them, see what they do, and get to know them. If you come in early and stay late, it may take time but it doesn't go unnoticed.
- Make friends with Supply. As a new Divo (especially if you get put in Engineering, like I did) you'll spend a lot of time routing and running CASREPS, checking on parts, and getting everything together for your work centers' 3M, and Supply can make or break you with a lot of that.
- Be genuine. If you're not being true to yourself or your Sailors and showing a genuine interest in their wellbeing, you're not doing your job.
Enjoy what time you have left because you'll never get it back! We spend so much time looking forward to what's ahead we forget to enjoy the now, even if it doesn't seem that enjoyable at the time. You might not think that you'd ever find yourself down in the pit, several decks below the rest of the sleeping crew at 0200 wiping oil off the engines, running on 5 hours of sleep in the last 3 days, for an inspection that determines the fate of the ship (and loving every minute of it), but just wait; it's coming.
ENS Elizabeth Miller
Main Propulsion Officer, USS ASHLAND