Moment of Revelation by Naomi Elpeleg, Israel

Looking back at this whole time, it’s hard to tell when that “moment of revelation” was — if it even existed. Sometimes the whole processing happens weeks or months after the actual events, and makes you feel and understand things differently. It sounds funny to tell the story of this very day when its importance was cleared so long afterwards, but maybe that’s how it works.

The first day of my army course was a hot, humid day in September. Just a month before then, I was a regular 18 year old, careless even though I knew that a few days afterwards I would be going to the army, with no idea where I was going to be, with whom I was going to spend my time, what I was going to do, and when my next time home would be. The first month was a basic training that every soldier goes through (even the non-combat ones like myself), and it was so bad I had no doubt whatever comes next would be better. The whole month I was being yelled at for random reasons several times a day, and I was trying hard to get used to the lack of personal space and time.

At the time I was very miserable. Objectively, the daily life in the course wasn’t as bad as the basic training, but perhaps I just had a tough time getting used to the new environment. Every day we woke up around 5:20am, cleaned the room, were inspected by the commanders, performed army orders, sang the national anthem, and went off to a whole day of studies. At 10pm we had one hour to talk on the phone and take a shower and at 11pm we went to sleep.

But the day the course ended and I received the pin I could stick to my army uniform to show I am a graduate of that course and can handle and be responsible for the things I learned for such a long time, my whole view of this experience changed. I felt that it was worth it and that these challenges made me stronger and more capable of doing things by myself and dealing with difficulties.

The rest of my army service was much easier, and to be honest, every time I encountered a tough time — during the service and even afterwards, I recalled how hard the course was and how I made it, and this memory itself has helped me get through the other things.

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