I have taken my baby steps for the many many hurdles ahead, and despite an awareness that today’s assessment was an underperformance I truly cannot be happier. In all honesty today’s assessment could have been done a lot better — if I took a step back to observe myself conducting my assessment, I would have realised that I lacked a lot in my technical steps, my reporting procedures and prioritisation. I forgot, once again, to establish boundary cooling as soon as possible until I was prompted. I forgot, once again, to remember the positions of all my manpower allocation. And many other things, many other mistakes that should not have been made by this stage. I was however given an opportunity to proceed, despite knowing myself that my performance for the assessment was sub-par.
But today more than anything I am thankful for the support that was rendered to me. At the start of this VA I set goals for myself and priorities — I thought to myself what was important (to myself) to deem myself fit for the awarding of the COC. Competence, confidence, and rapport. Competence and confidence could slowly be built up during the course of the YO journey as you learn more from experience and cope with new situations each day, but I thought rapport was something I could not neglect in my journey of COC attainment as well. It became increasingly apparent as I witnessed fellow peers struggling because of this very fact attributing to the lack of support from others. Today re-affirmed the importance of rapport for me. It was a non-duty day, and I struggled to obtain manpower for my fire drill because there was honestly no obligation to do a favour for me. Nonetheless most of the crew positively showed their support for me, and this was when I realised I showed at least slight success in achieving the third. Today I also found out who were the people I could depend on when I require any form of assistance on ship, and I am especially thankful to those who set aside prior schedules and postponed their commitments just to provide me support when I was lacking manpower (“ok la, I support you” / “See you tmr” when they were originally not intending to come).
I still have a lot to improve on. And in my message to my CO, I promise to stay humble and to continue working hard to become better.
I will remember the moments I sat on board 84’s bridge crying endlessly because I felt so much like a failure. It hit me harder when my then-CO told me that I was nearly there, and then I would only need another VA. Another year?! It triggered my water works immediately. I imagined myself having to start at ground zero once again, re-learn everything like a rookie and once again regain my standing among the crew. I felt so terrible because I stuck out like a sore thumb among everyone else in my batch who had no problems obtaining their COC by that point in time; I felt so, so, so useless when I came to the wharf for the first time again this year. I felt “overdue”, and I also had to face crude comments in my face such as “you’re from the 74th? Even batches should have no problem getting their COC.” I was discouraged again and again when I failed assessment after assessment, and received so, so many debrief pointers from my fire drill training opportunities repeatedly. It was made worse by the knowledge and awareness by myself that I am now on the wharf for the second time, and I had little excuse to continue being mediocre. I started wondering whether I had to come back again for the third time to continue my fight for the COC, and it only made me feel worse knowing that no one takes this many tries. It may be bad luck for rare individuals, but for many (and to me) it signified a lack of aptitude or attitude, or maybe both. “Am I that lousy?” was something that continually occurred to me as I saw myself drifting further away from my goal whenever I failed an assessment, especially as it started tapering to the end of my attachment.
My stress was illogical to many, and I knew that having the label of a “scholar” proved nothing as it only reflected that I must do better than anyone else. I had no one to rant to because it seemed like a “first-world problem” (an appropriate analogy) that would not be well-received by others, and I found myself heavily drowning in my negative thoughts especially in countless debriefs with officers telling me that “time was not the issue, most importantly you must be ready”. I felt beaten by those comments as I felt that these were targeted at me, and was afraid that there was no intention to train me up because I was due to leave in a short while. In my inability to share my “elitist concerns” I ended up writing reflections on my leopard book nearly every fortnightly, and I can only say that looking back they were words riddled with desperation, stress and worry. Right now I am more relieved than anything for having obtained the paper certification, but the true burden of responsibility and stress will now weigh down heavily on me especially as the squadron implements their changes to become better. In my limited time left on board I hope I will put what I have learnt and trained up for all this while to good use, and with this knowledge I seek to have very very safe watches after I close up as a OOD/DPO for real.