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Opening up: Growing into an Airman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class David D. McLoney
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

As an Airman, being socially active is an important part of developing your career and becoming a better leader, but not everyone starts off on the same playing field. For me, I started out isolated. When I was young, I was adopted, moved around a lot and didn’t have a lot of friends. People didn’t really like me, so I started to isolate myself. I grew to like playing games on my computer and never got invited to go do anything, so I often sat there for long periods of time waiting to catch my next Pok√©mon or breaking my next block in Minecraft. Now, I go to a lot more events and talk to a lot more people, all thanks to becoming a public affairs Airman.

Prior to joining the military, all I did was go to work from nine to five, then go home only to isolate myself in my room. The only active things I did was rarely go to church events or go places that my parents were going, which was usually our local grocery store or shopping center.

When I joined the military, I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I just joined to try to make a change in my life, and I sure did. I ended up signing a contract for the open general category and got a career that I not only didn’t think I would get, but also knew barely anything about, Photojournalism. Being a photojournalist requires a lot of unique skills that were out of my comfort zone at the time, including conducting interviews, speaking with crowds, writing stories that could reach a very wide population and much more.

As a result, I had to learn over the past year of being in the military how to come out of my comfort zone and get out into the real world for the first true time. I started forming connections in basic training as all Airman do, then went to tech school for my career field and made connections there as well. Finally, when arriving to my first duty station, I began getting myself out there. I performed interviews with people I never knew, had to practice inserting myself into situations to make sure I was able to get the photos and quotes I needed, and this is all leading up to me becoming more of an outgoing person.

As a result of all these experiences, talking to people and making connections has been a lot easier than it was in the past. I still have a long way to go in regards to learning to be a leader and becoming more of an outgoing person, but joining the Air Force and getting a job as a photojournalist has given me the ability to practice being more socially active, which can further my career. My goal is become even more social and make even more connections, so I can set myself up for the future and prepare myself for my Air Force career by always challenging myself to come out of my shell.