Life Advice

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    Life Advice

    I have quite a lot of ground to cover on this subject, so this is for all the patient bees out there. (Or I might be better at summing up than I think.)

    As some of you might know I am a bit of a lurker on this forum, which in this case is a good thing since I know this is a safe place to ask advice.

    I’m 20 years old. In these years the most insightful discovery I made about myself is that I am a very logical person, which has made picking my career difficult. The only career that seems like something I would enjoy is joining the UK army, but the last few months there has been no available positions for commonwealth citizens. Only I have found a loophole in that they are accepting musicians.

    I have a little experience, and I know with hard work I can meet their minimum requirements. My questions to you are as follows:

    Should I wait for all roles to open for commonwealths? (If I wait for it, I will probably pick a role like cyber engineer.)

    Or should I go for the role of musician? (Or really any advice that can help me choose will be appreciated.)

    All I personally care about is enlisting, and I know at some point I would be able to transfer to a different role. But getting the skills to become a musician is going to be a lot of work, and I don’t know if it’s worthwhile. On the other hand this can be a really fun and exciting challenge.

    P.S Whenever I write something I always feel like it’s a jumbled mess. Hence why I lurk.

    If learning to be a musician interests you even beyond being able to join the army, why not? it's a win win
    This is just the idea that came to my mind reading what you wrote, only you know what is best for you and it is right that you take your time to think about it.


      I have no experience regarding the military having worked in science my whole career but this is what I can offer:

      Life isn't a straight road. Most people don't end up doing one job for life. But a skill learned is never a waste. If you have an actual interest in becoming a musician go for it. You'll learn a skill and you can probably transfer if it doesn't work out (this would be an area to do your due diligence).

      Enjoy the adventure!


        Thank you Fremen and Io6 for the prompt response.

        After a little thinking about what you said, here my thoughts.

        Even though I don't think I have an "real" interest in becoming a musician, this feels like something that will consistently bug me. Even if I wait it out and enlist in a different role, it feels like I'm sit there thinking what if I did this instead.

        Logically my brain is saying, "this makes no sense, why I'm I even considering this". But another part of me is saying "hey, I'm still young, go for it, I have nothing to lose."


          If the only other option would be just waiting out what would you do during the wait? Why not fill the time by trying to become a musician? As Io6 said, learning a new skill is never a waste. I understand that your first and foremost goal is to get to the UK army at all, so learning to be a musician would bring you closer to that goal, wouldn't it?

          Is it even clear how long you would have to wait for all roles to open for commonwealths?

          And regarding your last post: If I felt that I would ask myself "what if I tried this?" if I decided against something, I would most probably not decide against it, because the nagging "what if" would drive me up the walls. But that is just me. Of course it is your decision to make.


            I can give my own experience with the military, which is the Canadian but built somewhat on a similar model. I joined as a member of the infantry as a summer job to pay for university, and being unsure of my future after graduating, I joined up into the infantry for the regular forces. The problem was that based off of my education (I have a history degree) that I was interested in becoming an Intelligence Officer. Intelligence was a field (not any more) that required a certain amount of previous experience and I didn't meet the threshold, so I joined up with what I knew, the infantry. Another problem arose, and that was that we were in the middle of our involvement in the Afghanistan War, and after all I wasn't all that fanatical about that War (or any war for that matter). What I found though, is that once I asked for a way out of the infantry that it was really tough. They had to prioritize people that were leaving for medical reasons, and so while I was a lot higher in terms of experience and aptitude tests, that I was mostly stuck at the back of the line. So if you get stuck in the system you can get really stuck.

            I have thought back on my life and what I could have done differently. Looking now at the options available, I am kind of sorry that I didn't choose another path. The Canadian military will train you for instance to become a certified chef (though they call it a cook) which gives you a college level diploma in food preparation. Or there are more technological options like working in satellite communications. I was a bit hemmed in by the idea that I had a degree and that I wanted to use it for something and not have it just be a nice piece of paper with no other purpose in my life. In retrospect I still haven't used it and there would have been a lot of much more interesting fields to go into than infantry.

            That said, if you think that musician is something that you are going to like, then go for it. If it is something that you are only going to tolerate, then you might want to give it some more thought, as you might find that transferring is not as easy as it seems. As others have mentioned, life is not a straight line, and you might go to study music and choose something else altogether ... band manager, marketing, sound technician. Those are all interesting fields and there are lots more associated with music and sound. As a side note, my life wasn't really going the way I needed it to go before I made the wrong decision to join the infantry, and joining the infantry resulted in breaking out of my old habits. If not for that then I would have never met my wife and been put on that pathway in life, so not really the wrong decision after all. A lot about life is inertia, bodies at rest stay at rest, bodies in motion stay on motion. Even if you don't know what you want to do, doing nothing will almost always get you nothing. Doing something will get you something, even if it is not exactly what it seems like you want at the time.


              FluffyDragon those are some good questions. I have already waited about 10 months for the roles to open up, and there is no sign of it happening soon. I try to keep busy in the meantime, but with no real goal it's difficult.

              CaptainCanuck being stuck on the outside of the system I can definitely see how the same problem that is slowing down my enlistment, could stop me from transferring. Meaning I should be extra sure about the role I pick.

              I think the current answer is quite simple. Start practicing to become a musician, along with the coding I am learning (what I've been doing to keep busy). Basically I'm saying leave the question for a later date, come back to it when I have more information.

              Maybe while practicing I learn that being a musician I not for me, or I might just start learning and wonder why I didn't do it earlier.

              Thank you both for the replies. And thank you all for giving me a little clarity. And last but not least, thanks to all the bees working hard to make this a great community.


                Hey, I feel you on your original question. I wanted to join the Royal Navy when I was 18 but my asthma blocked me from getting in. I knew what to do but I was so lazy I didn't even attempt to try improving, if I could do it again I would but I was a broke college kid and hadn't the foggiest what I should do in terms of prep.

                I'm now 29 and a few years ago me and my brother attempted to get into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary but I was so dead set on a particular role that, even though I passed I had failed the role I wanted (deck hand) and got steward instead (waitor basically) so I didn't go.
                Now that I am close to 30 I think "what if" but I don't dwell on the past too much.

                Now I am interested in adventuring so that's what drives me but there are many options that cover my main goal (to go on adventures) and I went in 2020 and did a wilderness survival course and now I am working on an ambitious goal of becoming an Adventurer and learning to basically be self sufficient... what I'm trying to say is: you want to join the Army but you can't rn BUT while you wait, why don't you build the skills you'd need (survival skills, efficiency in "personal chores" like ironing, first aid etc...

                If you read all that, here's a star


                  I'm more of a soldier of fortune, if that's the right word, and I've never been to the military, so maybe take my advice with a grain of salt:
                  Take chances and seize opportunities when they present themselves.
                  I lived by that creed myself since I've left my parents' house, basically bumbling from one opportunity to the next without thinking twice, and my life so far as been a fun and rewarding one, although with a few very deep lows. But I wouldn't trade it for anything and I don't want to think about how it would look would I have thought everything to death.
                  If you really want to join the UK military and can see learning music as a challenge, by all means, go for it. Especially if there's the chance to switch to another line later. Yes, you're young and you can afford to wait a bit, but do you really want to?
                  Weird decision experiment someone told me about once: Write your options down. One each on a big sheet of paper. Look for a place with a lot of room (probably outside, like a field of grass or something) and place them as far apart as possible. Set yourself a starting point, and then walk. See where your feet take you. See at which option you're going to end up. I've never tried it, because it sounds to esoteric for me, but maybe you want to and it helps you.

                  Either way, make a decision and when you're set, go for it. All the best.


                    Witbuks , I can add a bit of info also.

                    👍 Nothing clarifies decision making as much as actually doing the task. Goal: spend the next month or 3 months doing the daily actions you need to be a musician in the armed forces. Don't theorize. Find someone who is a military musician and pick that person's brain about what they do all day. Then do it.

                    I have heard that auditions are really tough. Carrying a guitar is a lot better than carrying an automatic rifle, so there may be LOTS of others who you will be competing against for those few gigs.

                    So, work at it!. 10 hours a day. At ​​​​​the end of the month or 3 months, take stock of the experience. Are you getting more out of the experience than you feel like you are putting into it? Do you feel like you can live with it and maybe grow to love it in a year, 5 years, 10 years?

                    ​​​​​​If you realize you hate it, you've only invested a month and got a lifetime's worth of wisdom out of it. 🤔



                      Once upon a time, I thought I'd join the airforce. Thought it would be a doddle - I was relatively fit, relatively intelligent. Who would have thought that a slight eyesight problem (that doesn't bother me anywhere else) wouldn't even let me in as a dog handler?! My advice - unless you are 100% you would get accepted into any role you'd accept, look to a different path. This is not to say to abandon all hope. Even if you studied hard at your music, would you be good enough to get in? In short, what happens if, after all your hard work, they say, sorry, your ears are the wrong shape? If you are interested in cyber engineering, is there something you can do right now that gets you into that sort of career? Also, say one month into basic training, you blow out a knee and they kick you out. Then what?
                      I know it's hard to plan a life at 20, and perhaps one of the problems is that you have so many avenues open to you. But also think contingencies: if not this, then that. Be aware that life changes.
                      I think the primary thing, though, is focus. Have a real aim, work out the best way to achieve it, and work hard to get there. It's easier to work hard at something if it is something you really want to do.


                        Aether good luck with your adventuring. I can definitely start with some things, like I have started practicing to put my hair in a neat bun. But some things would be very difficult to practice.

                        lofivelcro I sometimes wish I could just jump into things without thinking to much about it, but unfortunately it can't be helped.

                        Shikari a lot of my day goes into helping my parents, which I have no problem doing but would make it difficult to follow your suggestion. The big thing is that it is very unpredictable when they would need help, otherwise it would be doable.

                        TopNotch being turned down is definitely something I kept in mind. My plan (regardless of whether I do musician or a different role) is as follows. When I'm ready, I get a 6 months visa, the first thing I do when I get in the UK is to start my application for enlistment. While I wait for their answer I start looking for a job in IT/development (the coding and other computer related stuff I've been learning), or at least start talking to recruiters. That way should the military say I'm not fit for duty, I have something to fall back on.