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A big sigh from your parents but now the anxiety sets in!

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  • A big sigh from your parents but now the anxiety sets in!

    Go back a few months, there you all were, waiting for your letters, wondering if you had done well enough at interview, and finally you get your offer.


    Then there is all the follow up, visas, Discharge books, uniform, jabs, contracts and all the rest. Still the excitement is there because it is all new and you are looking forwards to it. Which college am I going to? Who will I share with? When is the induction? Can I remember everything they told me at interview?


    Two weeks before you start the questions start. Can I remember how to tie a tie, Can I press my uniform shirts alright, will I shrink my jumper if I put it in the tumble dryer? Then the really serious questions start. Will I like it, will I get on with people, will I be able to do the work, will I like it at sea?


    By the time the day of joining arrives, whatever your background or experience, you still have questions floating around and you don?t want to be the one that stands out. Am I joining on my own, are my parents taking me down, have I got enough stuff, have I packed too much, will people laugh at my picture of my family on the desk that mum insisted I put in or worse still my little lucky charm or note hidden in my bag from my Mum when I unpack and they drop on the floor?

    Warsash joining day was Sunday. Cadets walking round looking lost, getting to find their rooms, unpacking, meeting other cadets or roommates and all the time knots in the stomach and all the questions now shouting in their minds not just a rude niggling whisper?

    Do you know something? You are not alone. I don?t care if you are married, have lived away from home before or you are 16, 17 or 18 and this is the furthest you have been from Mum and Dad, you will still have questions and fears. Yes you are likely to feel more homesick and tearful if this is your first time, but you will all feel it to some extent. I could see it in all their faces on Sunday, then come the other fears on the day, is mum gonna kiss me goodbye, or worse, cry in front of someone else? Will I get upset when they go, will I get upset if I ring up later that day, or tomorrow?

    Again I will let you in on a secret. It is virtually the same for everyone to a greater or lesser extent. Stop worrying that you are different.

    There are other people feeling it as well, especially your Mum if you have a close relationship. The further you get away after you leave the college, the worse they get, at home they wander into your bedroom and sit on your bed. Thankful that the room is tidy at last, but missing you all the same. There are many things you will never know. The fact they still say goodnight to your bedroom door, even though you are not there etc. etc. (I won?t say any more because it might upset you ;-) ). Just remember to tell them you love them when they go. Even Dad wants a hug.

    But here is where some really good advice comes in. Leave them a note saying thanks for getting me this far, or telling them not to worry. Write a letter the first week telling them you love it. Ring them the first night once you have met everyone, ring them the first few nights telling them about your day. They are starved of information and are desperate to hear, but may not ring you because they do not want to impose their fears and angst on you and make you worse. But most of all keep in touch. Use Skype, use Facebook, whatever your poison. They have a whole raft of their own fears for you, on top of all the ones you can think of ? trust me! But what they will do is see you come online and not call you, frightened you do not want to speak to them at that moment but desperate for news. Bong them, if only for 2 minutes, just to let them know how you are feeling.

    When I was at sea, getting mail was the most important thing. It still has not changed. An email is easy really, sit and type it in your lunch hour etc. But to invest in the time to sit and hand write a letter is special. The person who receives it feels it and you get something out of doing it. Any investment made now comes back in spades. All of a sudden you find a letter has come from other people, and you keep them, reread them, and keep them for a long time. How long? I still have letters in the loft sent to me when I was at sea back in the 80?s!

    So, when you get 10 minutes, sit down, write a letter to someone, Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother, Friend?. It does not matter, but Mum should be a priority. You may not think it is a lot, but I?ll guarantee you have a smile on your face as big as a soup plate the day you get one back.

    Of course there will be those of you thinking this is soppy. Fine, don?t worry about it, this is not meant for you, move on down the bus and let it wash over you, just don?t belittle it or mock it because others will understand it. All I hope is that just one of you is sitting there nodding at the screen. I know there are family members who would agree with the sentiments in this.

    Just remember there are things you want to do and there are things that are there because of a sense of duty. Don?t ignore the ones that you feel you do out of a sense of duty, because you will feel the benefit in the long run.

    Finally it just remains for me to wish you all the best and I hope that you enjoy college, enjoy your choice of career, enjoy your time at sea and give it your all. Now go and have a laugh, if you do not know it, find the Poem ?This be the Verse? by Phillip Larkin. Cynical I know, but true. Personally I prefer ?If? by Rudyard Kipling. Says everything I want to say??.

    Good Luck Son??
    "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
    "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

    "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.