Doubt

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

I felt so insignificant when I arrived in Vietnam. I was a naïve, short, 120-pound Mexican-American kid from the Rio Grande Valley. And here I was playing with the “big boys.” Guys from big sophisticated cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles. Guys with “war experience.” Some of them had been in-country for six months or more, others were on their second or third tours. So “insignificant” was putting it mildly.

DOUBT

By Al Garcia

I felt so insignificant when I arrived in Vietnam.  I was a naïve, short, 120-pound Mexican-American kid from the Rio Grande Valley.  And here I was playing with the “big boys.”  Guys from big sophisticated cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles.  Guys with “war experience.”  Some of them had been in-country for six months or more, others were on their second or third tours.  So “insignificant” was putting it mildly. 

I was certainly self-conscious of just about everything, including my appearance, my inexperience in relationships, my trust of everyone around me, but mostly the uncertainty about my abilities – could I actually become a combat journalist?  All-in-all, I was afraid I would not be accepted, and that I would fail at being a soldier and a combat journalist. 

In addition to all those normal “kid” inferiorities, I was thousands of miles away from home, and at times, I wished I could undo everything and return to the nurturing and loving environment of my family and friends who already knew me, instead of the isolated and foreign environment I found myself in, surrounded by strangers.  Yet, I didn’t want to be seen as running away from my responsibilities because of who I was -- a confused young kid, not sure of who he was, but afraid to face who he might be, and lacking confidence and even self-esteem.  That pretty much described me back then in Vietnam during my first few days. 

However, the most challenging doubt I had about myself beat all the others.  I kept wondering whether in fact, I had the courage to face the hardships, challenges, or even the possibility of making the ultimate sacrifice that war may ask of me.  All this was going through my 19-year old head.  And I hadn’t even gone out on my first assignment yet. 

On the positive side, I was a Chicano.  A Mexican-American.  And I knew deep down that I had in my genetic makeup the willpower, resolve and perseverance to accomplish what I set out to do.  I knew from the onset that I wanted to prove to myself that I had the knowledge and common sense to accomplish whatever I strived for.  I also knew that I had the capacity to learn from those around me.But most importantly, I knew I had the insight and wisdom my parents had engrained in me over the many years.  I was scared, but I was also determined.  This was my opportunity to grow and validate my sensibilities, and test my openness and ability to care and connect with those around me, unconditionally.  I really had no choice. 

My quest to find myself and grow and evolve had led me to this place and to this particular moment in time that challenged my mind and my soul at every turn.  I could not just click my boots together and return to the normalcy and safety of the real world I had left behind.  I turned my situation into a personal quest for courage, intellect and passion.  I was not on a quixotic adventure, for unlike the character of Don Quixote, I could not but see the world for what it was.  It was frightening.  It was a real war, where men and boys were actually dying.  And I was right in the middle of it.

The guys I worked with at the Public Information Office must have noticed my innocence and uncertainty, because they helped to open up my mind and my ability to share, to commit, to accept and to give.  It was working with them that gave me the experience and confidence I was evidently missing before I joined the military. 

When I left Vietnam and the military, I was not the same naive, short, 120-pound Mexican-American kid I once had been.  Now, thanks to the young brave men I met along the way, I had become a strong, bright, giving individual, with self-esteem and self-worth. 

After all my self-doubt, insecurity and uncertainly, I had become a soldier, a journalist, a man and it only took a year, and a war.  Now, I had no doubt I could make it anywhere. 


Submitted: June 12, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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