‘academy training’ is Googled approximately 500,000 times per month globally.
Training at the academy felt a lot like the awkward shock therapy of childhood where everything seemed abnormal but there was no time to formulate a defensive response without calling unwanted attention to myself. Out of the need to survive, it was essential to stay in line, keep up with the group rhythm, and never fall behind. Though I was familiar with the rigor of being pushed beyond what felt like my personal limits, it had been a long time since I’d taken orders from anyone. And submission to confining humiliation was only an initial attempt to finish what I wasn’t sure I should have started.
It took a whole year to get my second wind and by the time I felt like it was possible to finish, it began to feel like I was running a whole new race. Every year had its challenges and every challenge had its advantages and disadvantages. The first year at the academy was difficult for me in every way—academically, socially, physically and emotionally. Not knowing English, and being thrown into the military mosh pit of U.S. Air Force Academy zealots, I was just trying to mimic the madness around me. Though I rarely understood the implications of various facets of training, my raw physical strength and calloused emotional makeup made me a perfect candidate for completing the first phase of physical and mental conditioning.