I believe it is important to learn to live by yourself. I was only twelve years old when I got out of the car and walked through the door of what would be my home for the next year. Although I was very young, I decided to embark on a journey that would change me forever, both negatively and positively. It was extremely tough at first, but I gained incredible experiences and values that have shaped me into a better person.

I arrived at Hargrave Military Academy in August 2012. I quickly said goodbye to my dad and followed the rest of the new cadets for my briefing session and a trip to the quartermaster. That same night, after 50 push-ups and scrubbing the bathroom, I finally went to my room and unpacked. I was dying to go to bed, only to realize I had forgotten my pajamas back home. I had to wear some ugly gray sweatpants and sweatshirt for a whole week while my parents sent me my PJs. In one day, I had to do more scrubbing, cleaning, unpacking, and time managing than I had in my entire life before that. It was then that I realized how many commodities we have when we live with our parents. For two weeks I struggled to keep my clothes ordered in my closet, and keep my shoes shined, and keep my room spotless. Having Sgt. Myers yell at me definitely wasn’t at the top of my to-do list, though. I quickly adapted and learned that if I wanted to survive and not do pushups or march in the bullring, I had to get my act together ASAP.

Every day, reveille would sound at 6 A.M. The first sergeant started banging on doors and yelling for people to wake up. Now, the second my alarm goes off I spring to my feet and get ready for the day that’s ahead. I guess I’m still expecting loud knocking and yelling at my door. Later at night, we would have mandatory study hall for two hours. Even if I didn’t want to work, I would have to sit there for the entire time and not talk, move, sleep, etc. In the absence of something better to do, I found it more productive to do my homework. I did not miss a single assignment all year, which resulted in a 99 GPA. I still try to enforce my mini “study hall” every night, and I think it has been partly responsible for my good grades throughout high school. Lastly, the two room inspections we had every day taught me that it is important to have a clean room, an orderly closet, and a tidy bed.

Without my experience at military school, I would definitely be a very different person than who I am now. Though I missed my family and friends, I embraced the opportunity to grow as a person, taking advantage of the situation I was in; under Sgt. Myers, you either did it or you suffered the consequences. Now, almost 4 years after coming back home, I still apply some of the values and beliefs that were instilled in me during my time there. Living alone was the best character-building experience I have had in my entire life, and I believe everyone should have that experience at least once in their lives.