Every once in a while I’ll go back and read parts of my journal from the past few years. Something from this time two years ago caught my eye the other day.
It was a very bad time for me personally; long story short, I was not handling the stress of school and work very well. And I was broke. Around every corner was a mistake waiting to be made; I couldn’t do anything right. I don’t like to revisit that time, but I’ll share this thought from a moment I had after unloading some of my troubles to a couple of dear family friends, who were able to offer some consolation when I was at my worst.
“Seeing F and L made me feel better about the way things were going. The more people I tell about my plans and worries, the more I see that I am headed in the right direction, even though sometimes I feel totally lost, especially lately. It seems that every time I turn around these days, there is another fine to pay, another debt. I keep getting myself into trouble and it is becoming costly. It seems I’ll never see the day when I’m on top of my money instead of always behind on everything, scrambling and clawing my way up this landslide of financial instability. I’ve been living month to month for as long as I can remember, and I feel like it will never end. All I can do is keep living on the cheap, keep working and accruing the sea time I need for my license; keep paying the debts and fines as they come up, until there are no more debts or fines to pay.”
Recently I’ve had the pleasure of getting acquainted with a handful of people who are interested in going to PMI and getting a license while working on tugboats, OSVs, research ships and various other vessels. Some of them have families and want to know how much money they’ll make, how much time they’ll spend away from home; I can’t speak for everyone, neither can I say what each individual will sacrifice by going to sea. The stakes are higher for some.
I didn’t leave children or a spouse at home when I worked, and it was hard enough without a family – I can’t imagine what these guys will go through. The emotional strain took its toll at times, the financial burden was brutal (only because I hadn’t prepared for it), and it hasn’t gotten much better but I know it will soon. In this industry especially, it seems you have to sacrifice the things that are most precious to you before you can gain the means you need to live the life you want for yourself and the ones you love.
My only advice (let it be encouragement as well) to the ones struggling and fighting to get ahead is, if you know you are doing the right thing, then you’ll be able to bear the strain and the rewards will be better than you imagined they could be; it just takes time.