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Dangerzone

Burned out on civilian job

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Hi everyone,
just trying to find common ground with other people who may be in the same struggle as I am. 2020 has been a challenge—mentally, emotionally, financially, with my marriage, at work, feeling like the US country is being ripped apart before our very eyes and feeling the weight of all of it. I started submitting UPT applications Jan of 2020 and I put so much pressure on myself to get picked up for a UPT position because I got the flying bug, was dealing with extreme boredom at work with my engineering job, feeling unmotivated and not challenged, and wanting the excitement, community and team mindedness of being in the military and in a flying squadron. I know this is what I want to do in life, but with the constant delays, COVID, hearing talk of guard/reserve pilot manning numbers being essentially slashed in half for FY21, going to UPT through active duty at the soonest not until summer 2022, I’ve just become so impatient and down about it all. Through all of this waiting, and just the negativity of 2020, I’ve frankly lost the enjoyment for life (not in a suicidal way), felt kind of trapped and like I need to switch it up to get the fire back in my belly. I’ve already decided I need to take the 100k a yr golden handcuffs off and have planned to quit my job in Jan, in the meantime hope to spend my last 2 weeks of vacation left doing my favorite activity—snowboarding, and working on my self-development, fitness/health, and aggressively reaching out to whatever unit will give me a chance to send them my application. 
Thanks for listening to my TED talk... 

If anyone is in the same boat or feeling the weight of life would love to hear what’s going on by PM or below. Or if you’re a gray head and want to call me a b*tch first then impart some advice I’m all ears. Thanks

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Hey man, I was in the same exact boat as you were 2 years ago, minus the whole kung flu stuff. I was going through the exact same stuff. Freshly graduated from engineering, sitting at a desk job (that payed quite well) but being disillusioned with the prospect of doing that stuff for 40 years until retirement. Not knocking the engineering profession because we need those people, they make the planes after all. But a lot of people in the circuit express the same feelings as you and I. We can't stand the idea of "sitting at a desk" for our whole career when there is the option of flying for the AF. On the other hand, I can't say I agree with you on quitting your job right now. You know, with covid and all going on, even if you get selected tomorrow you are still a year out best case scenario on heading to OTS.

 

Rushing for a UPT slot is really difficult, couldn't imagine how hard it is with the kung flu kicking you in the nuts. All I can say is keep pushing cause successful business built during the depression are way more impressive than business built during the boom. 

 

Also, get comfortable with the waiting. I started this process back in late 2017, picked up in early 2020, and still have about a year before I even think about shipping out for UPT. Keep grinding away to get that UPT slot but don't forget to live and enjoy everyday life. Whether that be with your job, family, hobbies, or religion, don't neglect it. Because I'm sure when we are stressing over an upgrade ride or combat deployment, we are going to miss these relatively easy times where the biggest stress was boredom.

 

Lastly, I would be careful about broadcasting how much of a challenge your life is. You know, and I know how hard life can be sometimes but I expressed this exact feeling in a fighter interview one time and got absolutely reemed about it in feedback and subsequent non-selection. Just keep your head down and keep grinding and your hard work will eventually pay off. Good luck man, you definitely aren't alone out here!   

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Hey dude, I just want to echo a bit of what's already been said.  I'm currently an engineer, and it is by all means an awesome job and a blessing during the current socioeconomic situation.  But I can totally relate to your feeling unfulfilled and wanting to do what you are really passionate about -- that's a story/sentiment I've heard a ton while on the circuit.  That being said, I would also throw my 2c in and say now is not a great time to quit a stable job, especially when I think you can still be equally effective at rushing squadrons and going all out for that dream, while still maintaining some stability and financial flexibility.  I was selected in early 2020 for a Guard squadron, and I am still going through all of the onboarding hurdles (haven't got OTS dates or FC1 scheduled yet).  When I was first selected, I thought about resigning from my current job and just focusing on getting prepped for the next steps -- really glad I didn't, because this is definitely a hurry up and wait game.  

Feel free to DM me if you want to chat any more about this.  Good luck! 

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2 hours ago, Desk Jobs Suck said:

Hey man, I was in the same exact boat as you were 2 years ago, minus the whole kung flu stuff. I was going through the exact same stuff. Freshly graduated from engineering, sitting at a desk job (that payed quite well) but being disillusioned with the prospect of doing that stuff for 40 years until retirement. Not knocking the engineering profession because we need those people, they make the planes after all. But a lot of people in the circuit express the same feelings as you and I. We can't stand the idea of "sitting at a desk" for our whole career when there is the option of flying for the AF. On the other hand, I can't say I agree with you on quitting your job right now. You know, with covid and all going on, even if you get selected tomorrow you are still a year out best case scenario on heading to OTS.

 

Rushing for a UPT slot is really difficult, couldn't imagine how hard it is with the kung flu kicking you in the nuts. All I can say is keep pushing cause successful business built during the depression are way more impressive than business built during the boom. 

 

Also, get comfortable with the waiting. I started this process back in late 2017, picked up in early 2020, and still have about a year before I even think about shipping out for UPT. Keep grinding away to get that UPT slot but don't forget to live and enjoy everyday life. Whether that be with your job, family, hobbies, or religion, don't neglect it. Because I'm sure when we are stressing over an upgrade ride or combat deployment, we are going to miss these relatively easy times where the biggest stress was boredom.

 

Lastly, I would be careful about broadcasting how much of a challenge your life is. You know, and I know how hard life can be sometimes but I expressed this exact feeling in a fighter interview one time and got absolutely reemed about it in feedback and subsequent non-selection. Just keep your head down and keep grinding and your hard work will eventually pay off. Good luck man, you definitely aren't alone out here!   

I appreciate your sentiments. Glad to know there’s a few of us out there. I guess I should expound on the quitting the job thing. Honestly I feel like if I don’t quit in a reasonable time I’ll get fired for dropping the ball on my responsibilities, I’ve “toughed” it out for long enough and between the commute, doing something you have no desire to do, and lack of mental stimulation—I’m over it. I would be quitting to force myself to find something else for my own sanity. 
I think I came into this process with unreasonable expectations on timing and quite frankly have been humbled by the competitiveness of it all, lots of great and qualified dudes out there. Glad to see you got picked up, and I’m sure I’ll see you on the other side. 

I was going to make a sarcastic remark initially about if it were smart to share my feelings or being too honest about difficulties or something in an interview if the question came up, thanks for the heads up! 

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are you financially secure enough to quit and wait out the timing aspect of it?

i understand the frustration, but might be more prudent to hold onto the engineering job until you have something else lined up.

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1 hour ago, BashiChuni said:

are you financially secure enough to quit and wait out the timing aspect of it?

i understand the frustration, but might be more prudent to hold onto the engineering job until you have something else lined up.

Could do a few months with savings and get by, and hopefully find something else in the meantime without settling.  I get where you’re coming from, my issue is the feeling like my best years are being sucked away from me and I’m stuck in the play it safe mindset which has proven to not bring me the quality of life I had hoped for besides a decent W-2 at the end of the yr. I’m holding to this optimism of the AF will solve all my problems if I can just land a UPT position but seems like the time continuum could be a yr or 2 out and don’t think I can last in my current environment for that long. 

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1 hour ago, Day Man said:

is onlyfans an option? :beer: 

100%! Want to be my first paying customer..? ; )

I think that’d end poorly with the Mrs, unless she’s in on it, hmmm. 

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29 minutes ago, Dangerzone said:

Could do a few months with savings and get by, and hopefully find something else in the meantime without settling.  I get where you’re coming from, my issue is the feeling like my best years are being sucked away from me and I’m stuck in the play it safe mindset which has proven to not bring me the quality of life I had hoped for besides a decent W-2 at the end of the yr. I’m holding to this optimism of the AF will solve all my problems if I can just land a UPT position but seems like the time continuum could be a yr or 2 out and don’t think I can last in my current environment for that long. 

a few months? hope doesn't pay the bills.

UPT won't solve all your problems and your quality of life might not be the best. (12 hour days, lots of TDYs post UPT, deployments etc) job is good, but i'm concerned you've built it up so much in your mind that it'll disappoint.

don't get me wrong it's a great career path. unsolicited advice: i'd keep your well paying engineering job until you have something concrete lined up. 2020 isn't the year to be hoping to find a random job to pay bills before UPT.

have you started your PPL? maybe that can keep you fired up until the air force comes calling.

Edited by BashiChuni
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3 minutes ago, BashiChuni said:

a few months? hope doesn't pay the bills.

UPT won't solve all your problems and your quality of life might not be the best. (12 hour days, lots of TDYs post UPT, deployments etc) job is good, but i'm concerned you've built it up so much in your mind that it'll disappoint.

don't get me wrong it's a great career path. unsolicited advice: i'd keep your well paying engineering job until you have something concrete lined up. 2020 isn't the year to be hoping to find a random job to pay bills before UPT.

have you started your PPL? maybe that can keep you fired up until the air force comes calling.

2 solid, actionable suggestions

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I was a civil engineer prior to UPT. I couldn’t stand being in a cubical... even though I was probably out on the field 30% of the time, it still sucked wondering if it would be the same thing over and over again for the next 40 years. Even as part time guard helo pilot... the future did not look very appealing to me.

You’ll miss the simplicity of things... or more less how black and white things are. It will never be like that in the AF or military... period. Once your in, there will always be the next test, next checkride, the next upgrade, promotion, deployments... you name it.

Like the bros above said, enjoy your time now to chill, be with the fam friends hobby or w e. UPT is a long year full of long days, Sunday Scaries, and being evaluated on everything you do. There’s never enough time... and you’ll never know it all.

Again, the simplicity of things is about the only thing I sometimes miss about my old engineer job.

Stay motivated and keep chasing the demon! Let the rejections and the TBNT e-mails fuel your passion of achieving your goals of getting hired and finding a military home.

PS, if your so impatient about making the jump now, go join the Army. The need pilots too lol
Cheers


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network mobile app

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46 minutes ago, BashiChuni said:

a few months? hope doesn't pay the bills.

UPT won't solve all your problems and your quality of life might not be the best. (12 hour days, lots of TDYs post UPT, deployments etc) job is good, but i'm concerned you've built it up so much in your mind that it'll disappoint.

don't get me wrong it's a great career path. unsolicited advice: i'd keep your well paying engineering job until you have something concrete lined up. 2020 isn't the year to be hoping to find a random job to pay bills before UPT.

have you started your PPL? maybe that can keep you fired up until the air force comes calling.

 

34 minutes ago, CharlieHotel47 said:

I was a civil engineer prior to UPT. I couldn’t stand being in a cubical... even though I was probably out on the field 30% of the time, it still sucked wondering if it would be the same thing over and over again for the next 40 years. Even as part time guard helo pilot... the future did not look very appealing to me.

You’ll miss the simplicity of things... or more less how black and white things are. It will never be like that in the AF or military... period. Once your in, there will always be the next test, next checkride, the next upgrade, promotion, deployments... you name it.

Like the bros above said, enjoy your time now to chill, be with the fam friends hobby or w e. UPT is a long year full of long days, Sunday Scaries, and being evaluated on everything you do. There’s never enough time... and you’ll never know it all.

Again, the simplicity of things is about the only thing I sometimes miss about my old engineer job.

Stay motivated and keep chasing the demon! Let the rejections and the TBNT e-mails fuel your passion of achieving your goals of getting hired and finding a military home.

PS, if your so impatient about making the jump now, go join the Army. The need pilots too lol
Cheers


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Thanks for the perspective gents. Always refreshing to hear the unglamorized side of things. I definitely miss the sink or swim type of atmosphere associated with sports or what I felt going through BMT many moons ago and how I depict UPT to be from what I’ve heard and your quick synopsis. I think the preparation of managing stress, being content in my current situation and not always longing for the next thing, I.e. being happy with what you have in pursuit of what you want mentality would be beneficial for me to learn now. A pep talk I had for myself struggling through difficult classes in engineering school was “you won’t be happier any more when you finally make it, if you’re discontent in the present”. Feel like that’s where I’m currently at in my career. 

Knocking out my PPL is probably what ruined me, it gave me just enough taste of the freedom of flying to realize I could get paid to do this and not want to deal with normal jobs anymore. Currently just flying for expensive hamburgers to stay proficient. Thanks for the help both of you!  

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8 minutes ago, BashiChuni said:

keep at it, have a smart plan, and go for that plan!

maybe next step is instrument/commercial?

Paying for the ratings out of my pocket vs letting the gov do it later on is something I go back and forth on. Would definitely help me have a more competitive application and keep me groomed for a career in aviation, not sure if the present cost/financial strain associated is worth it. Were you a ROTC guy or what was your path to wings if u don’t mind me asking? 

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I would not quit a well paying job without something else lined up. It’s going to take some time to get hired, and the pay at O-1 isn’t exactly cosmic, especially if you are accustomed to a QOL associated with a cushy engineering paycheck. Keep adding $$ to the bank, or make some smart investments, or fuck it, buy your own plane. 
 

Don’t over hype the pilot thing, don’t get me wrong, I love my job as a pilot, but on average I spend about 4-6 hours a week flying and 30-60 a week doing office work or someone else’s job that’s to incompetent or lazy to do it themselves. Granted, that’s on AD, I hear the grass is greener on the other side. 
 

My last piece of advice-

“Money can't buy happiness
But it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it, It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets“

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I’ll do the gray head thing.......quit yer whining.

Seriously, not trying to be a dick. There are a LOT of people in this country who have lost their jobs, their families are suffering, etc. You have a great paying job that may not be something you enjoy, but that’s why they call it work and not “super fun koombayah hang with the bros all day time.”. So suck it up, pick yourself up by yer britches, get to work, and do two things:

1. Excel at the career you are in. You never know if something will happen that will preclude you from being able to fly, and suddenly that job you hate might be the one thing that saves you from the unemployment line.

2. Work on the things that you need to in order to get the job you want like flying more, volunteering, studying for AFOQT if you need to retake, etc. WHILE EXCELLING IN THE JOB YOU’RE IN.

 

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8 minutes ago, viper154 said:

I would not quit a well paying job without something else lined up. It’s going to take some time to get hired, and the pay at O-1 isn’t exactly cosmic, especially if you are accustomed to a QOL associated with a cushy engineering paycheck. Keep adding $$ to the bank, or make some smart investments, or it, buy your own plane. 
 

Don’t over hype the pilot thing, don’t get me wrong, I love my job as a pilot, but on average I spend about 4-6 hours a week flying and 30-60 a week doing office work or someone else’s job that’s to incompetent or lazy to do it themselves. Granted, that’s on AD, I hear the grass is greener on the other side. 
 

My last piece of advice-

“Money can't buy happiness
But it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it, It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets“

Forgot to mention I went balls deep into highly leveraged options trading in February when you couldn’t not make money in the stock market and subsequently after the onset of the China virus and the fateful week of multiple circuit breakers going off, realized I pissed away 50k in my 401k I spent the last 3 years accumulating due to my stupidity. So I don’t have a high regard for money right now as my hierarchy of needs is met in abundance and I am not focused on the idea of suffering through the next 30 years to hopefully retire at 60 to drink mojitos in Mexico if everything goes right. I think the brotherhood and the guys on the left and right of you is something you don’t get in a corporate setting either which also makes the desk job times more appealing I would imagine. 

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10 minutes ago, Marco said:

I’ll do the gray head thing.......quit yer whining.

Seriously, not trying to be a dick. There are a LOT of people in this country who have lost their jobs, their families are suffering, etc. You have a great paying job that may not be something you enjoy, but that’s why they call it work and not “super fun koombayah hang with the bros all day time.”. So suck it up, pick yourself up by yer britches, get to work, and do two things:

1. Excel at the career you are in. You never know if something will happen that will preclude you from being able to fly, and suddenly that job you hate might be the one thing that saves you from the unemployment line.

2. Work on the things that you need to in order to get the job you want like flying more, volunteering, studying for AFOQT if you need to retake, etc. WHILE EXCELLING IN THE JOB YOU’RE IN.

 

It needed to be said and I take that criticism fully. Hopefully I am not putting off the vibe of complaining as that is not my intention. I have worked very hard for the things I’ve had in life and wake up with a heart of gratitude for my health, job, etc. especially in the age of 2020 where anything can happen and knowing some buddies who got laid off and are still in the job hunt. All that to say my seemingly cozy life to onlookers which was heavily influenced by following the advice of what people told me to do and it’s led me to where I’m currently at, semi quarter life crisis if I need to label it, is unsustainable for me. I’m at the point I’m already failing doing something I don’t want to do so what’s the harm potentially failing doing something I want to do. In the meantime yes I’m building up the areas I’m lacking with the goal in mind of officer/pilot. 

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Keep in mind that if you go Guard or Reserve, USERRA law requires that your employer holds your position (or a similar one) for up to 5 years while you’re on orders if I recall correctly. The ability to immediately have guaranteed income is a huge plus for gaps in training and post-seasoning when you become a part-timer. If you’re unemployed when you ship out, you won’t have that protection. Continued employment is also going to look better on your applications IMO.

Edited by mb1685
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1 hour ago, mb1685 said:

Keep in mind that if you go Guard or Reserve, USERRA law requires that your employer holds your position (or a similar one) for up to 5 years while you’re on orders if I recall correctly. The ability to immediately have guaranteed income is a huge plus for gaps in training and post-seasoning when you become a part-timer. If you’re unemployed when you ship out, you won’t have that protection. Continued employment is also going to look better on your applications IMO.

Is this also true even if you were hired by your company prior to your enlistment?  I've been looking for a definitive answer as to whether this true, since it would be great to have the fallback during potentially months-long gaps between training phases.  I just figured that if I wasn't enlisted already when I was hired by my company, they have no obligation to hold that up.  

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36 minutes ago, FOX3 said:

Is this also true even if you were hired by your company prior to your enlistment?  I've been looking for a definitive answer as to whether this true, since it would be great to have the fallback during potentially months-long gaps between training phases.  I just figured that if I wasn't enlisted already when I was hired by my company, they have no obligation to hold that up.  

I'm fairly certain there's no requirement to already be in the military in any capacity before getting the job. As long as you have active duty orders in hand, I don't think your employer can get out of the requirement unless you've exceeded that 5 years.

It also might be worth digging into your employer's military leave benefits, if any. Some will hook you up with at least a couple of weeks of pay. Some even do differential pay, where the whole time you're away on orders they'll pay you the difference between your regular salary and your military pay. I think that generally tends to be defense contractors mainly though. And if you have some sort of long-term incentive bonus, it's possible that could continue to vest while you're on leave.

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Not sure how old you are or how open you are to even crazier life changes but have you considered the active duty flying world?  Yeah you don't have the flexibility of knowing where you'll be living but the Navy, USMC, and Air Force all have aviator shortages despite Covid grenading commercial aviation.  Unlike the Air Force process the Navy and Marine Corps in particular seem to do a much better job of giving you a yes/no answer within a few months instead of 12-24 months like the AD Air Force.  

Also this year is terrible for applying to UPT boards.  Without being able to visit in person (UTA weekend, etc) or having a personal connection at a squadron before an application is due means your chances for an interview are close to zero even with stellar scores, grades and flying hours.  Once Covid is over and you can take the time to allow them to put a name to a face things will get much easier.

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45 minutes ago, mb1685 said:

I'm fairly certain there's no requirement to already be in the military in any capacity before getting the job. As long as you have active duty orders in hand, I don't think your employer can get out of the requirement unless you've exceeded that 5 years.

It also might be worth digging into your employer's military leave benefits, if any. Some will hook you up with at least a couple of weeks of pay. Some even do differential pay, where the whole time you're away on orders they'll pay you the difference between your regular salary and your military pay. I think that generally tends to be defense contractors mainly though. And if you have some sort of long-term incentive bonus, it's possible that could continue to vest while you're on leave.

From my experience sitting through a brief or two you’re correct. I think the only potential hiccup is if you just landed a civilian job and left on orders quickly after there may be a time req before USERRA kicks in or the employer can fight it. Also don’t forget to give ample notice to your employer before leaving on orders because I’ve heard that can turn into a nasty legal battle. 

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48 minutes ago, tarheelaviator said:

Not sure how old you are or how open you are to even crazier life changes but have you considered the active duty flying world?  Yeah you don't have the flexibility of knowing where you'll be living but the Navy, USMC, and Air Force all have aviator shortages despite Covid grenading commercial aviation.  Unlike the Air Force process the Navy and Marine Corps in particular seem to do a much better job of giving you a yes/no answer within a few months instead of 12-24 months like the AD Air Force.  

Also this year is terrible for applying to UPT boards.  Without being able to visit in person (UTA weekend, etc) or having a personal connection at a squadron before an application is due means your chances for an interview are close to zero even with stellar scores, grades and flying hours.  Once Covid is over and you can take the time to allow them to put a name to a face things will get much easier.

Solid points,I’m 26 years old and definitely open to AD if it gets me flying although that is plan C. Partial to the AF due to having finished an enlistment already, but the Navy is something I’ve more and more been looking at due to the backlog of AF. 
Do you happen to have any more insights into either the USMC or NAVY flying? Yes I can also research but didn’t know if you had already done some due diligence I could PM you about. Thanks 

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Posted (edited)
On 9/29/2020 at 12:40 PM, Dangerzone said:

This post and all prior.

If I may offer a completely different perspective.  Friend, you haven't lost your drive, your desire, your motivation.  You've lost your heart.  If you think that you'll be able to jump to the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Homeland Security (all of which have flying) and that said flying job will stir you back to who you want to be by scratching that itch, you're wrong.  

Oh, don't hear me wrong.  The itch is real and so is your disgust with your current situation.  Very real, very valid, very potent, and very very treacherous.  From what I can hear, the solution you are seeking isn't the real antidote...it's a band-aid...granted, it's a very comforting one, but a short term solution none-the-less.  Unless you get your heart back, you will get bled dry by a thousand other tiny cuts that any other institution WILL inflict.  The USAF did it to me when I was about 27, and many other's on this board will attest to the same.  You need to get your heart back so you can endure that course.

My recommendation is to definitely go snowboarding.  Take some time to clear the perspective...preferably without a smart phone.  Decide about quitting your job afterwards.  Take a book with you too: "Becoming a King" by Morgan Snyder.  Only 200 pages.  It might help you re-discover the real fire and where your heart went.  Without your heart, nothing you try will succeed.  Rediscover it though, and you're in a whole new ball-game.  

What I hear about your work situation could benefit, in the short term, from an adjustment of perspective...the cubicle is not the prison, it's the enabling water-fountain and or spring-board to finance your real career/adventure/commissioning.  Endure only as much as you have to.  Don't jump early, but definitely don't jump late.  Leverage it until you don't need it anymore...and it sounds like you still might need it...but I'm just guessing on that last part.  

Afraid of money mistakes you've made?  Ok, don't make those mistakes again.  It don't mean you're dumb, it means you've had an experience and learned from it.  What you've done DOES NOT define who you are nor what you will do in the future, unless you let it. 

Go get your heart back.  You want a change of career into flying and you won't take no for an answer?  Ok.  Blitz through your instrument and commercial ratings like you mean it, and start flying night cargo.  I'm being completely serious here.  Do it.  Quit your job and hang it out there.  Do it, live in squalor for season, make some mistakes, learn from them, and move on.  If that's what it takes to get your heart back, it's FAR better than moving from bad situation to bad solution.  That road...the one where you fix today by jumping to what looks like greener pastures in the military...(as several here have alluded to) will only lead you right back to the discontent you feel right now, only it will be worse, because then you'll be saddled with a 8-10 year commitment to the military that you have no choice about. 

Go get your heart back (pro-tip, let your wife know what's going on, but do not look to her for the answer of finding your heart), then go get your flying career.  If those goals coincide, all-the-better, but measure the cost first.  You may decide to wait, but don't stand still.  Standing still is indecision.  Waiting has purpose, meaning, and a trigger to end it.  Whatever you do: Don't stand still.

FF

Edited by FourFans130
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