Editor’s Note: Mat Best is an Army Ranger, combat veteran, author, and highly successful small business owner. He is also a personal friend of ours. In this short but powerful piece, Mat covers an issue near and dear to many veterans: managing transitions. It’s important for fellow veterans to know that we have all had our struggles, that none of us are alone in facing them, and we can all get though them together. When someone like Mat Best takes the time to say something like this, we listen; you should too.
This article first appeared in Havok Journal on 07JAN15.
To start, my name is Mat Best, and you may know me as the bearded Internet Guy who posts silly videos about the military. Something you might not know about me is that I’ve dealt with alcoholism and an ever-constant struggle with the transition to civilian life.
I’m not really sure with whom this article will resonate, but I can only hope it finds someone that could use some real words from someone with shared experiences. Please do not expect some scholarly profound article that will influence your outlook on the social standing of veterans. Rather, these are merely genuine words from someone who is sharing his personal experiences.
There are a lot of reasons why I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve been through hardship in life. The main one being, I often feel that people who are too afraid to admit that they’ve made mistakes and been wrong are the ones who are unable to grow in character. No matter what moral pedestal one might stand on, everyone makes mistakes. I am a firm believer in the stance that mistakes are the foundation for a proactive approach to growth.
Mistakes live in the past; if you chose to relive those outcomes then you are only the creator of your own calamity, not the decider of your destiny. Challenge, hardship, and fault only live on through your future endeavors if you allow it. Many of life’s greatest moments of bliss and happiness exist because of a history of hardship. So be thankful for your experiences and transition into the person you want to be.
Life is full of transitions. Transition in my understanding is a portion of life that consists of adapting from normality into the unknown. Whether that is optional or obligatory, you are found out of your comfort. Understandably, this is a very scary median between two positions in life. I’ve found that transition normally takes a lot longer than you expect. We all wish that transition would be over in a blink of an eye, but unfortunately that is never the case.
The key to transition is acknowledging that you are changing your life for a better outcome. A normal response to a period of transition is often filled with emotions like trepidation. In my personal experience, transition tends to take you to a place filled with more happiness than ever before. Even if the road to happiness was undeniably difficult. If you get lost in a state of embitterment, know that you’re in control of change and action will be the only delineation of success.
I can honestly admit that I do not have the key to success and happiness in life. What I do have is perspective, and that is what seems to define happiness. Life isn’t fair. Life isn’t always honest. And I will be damned sure that life isn’t easy. So when things get hard, don’t look for someone to blame, challenge yourself to make the transition. You may not be responsible for what life throws at you, but you are responsible with how you react.
No matter how much you’ve progressed in life, people will always tear at the scaffolding that builds you. Their goal is to prevent you from growing as a person. Do not let them win. Remember, to resent someone is to allow them free rent in your head. So live, laugh, and freedom on.
If nothing in the article resonated with you, here is a video of a bunch of puppies. Only terrorists don’t like puppies.
-Mat Best, CEO Article 15 Clothing