Thoughts on a Perfect Plan: Brian Gosselin ’10

Brian Gosselin, as editor of the Guidon, published this editorial in the December 15, 2016, issue of the paper, just a week before his December graduation. We reprint it here, slightly edited, with the author’s permission.

If you had told me in 2006 that I would be graduating with a degree in communications in December of 2016, I would have immediately picked up the phone, called an ambulance, and sent you to the mental ward. That is because 18-year-old Recruit Gosselin, resplendent in his freshly ironed BDUs and with a nice fat Air Force contract, had his life completely planned out. I was going to get my degree in mechanical engineering by 2010, become a pilot, and retire after 30 years.
It was the perfect plan.

Brian Gosselin received his diploma in December 2016, but as do many Norwich alumni who left and returned, he identifies with his original rook class, 2010. And, he is sticking around the Hill, at least for the foreseeable future. At present he works for the Department of Public Safety, and he begins a Master of Public Administration this spring with the NU College of Graduate and Continuing Studies. Afterward? He doesn’t know, and is fine with that. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

Brian Gosselin received his diploma in December 2016, but as do many Norwich alumni who left and returned, he identifies with his original rook class, 2010. And, he is sticking around the Hill, at least for the foreseeable future. At present he works for the Department of Public Safety, and he begins a Master of Public Administration this spring with the NU College of Graduate and Continuing Studies. Afterward? He doesn’t know, and is fine with that. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

But that’s not what happened. After realizing that I didn’t want to be an engineer, I switched to the Communications Department. That was good enough to keep me content for a while, but it just wasn’t for me. I loved my school, I loved my rook buddies, but something didn’t feel right. I was starting to realize that having a perfectly planned life was boring. I had trapped myself in my own life, all by the age of 20.

So after my junior year, I left school and enlisted as a cavalry scout in the Army. This came as a shock to my family, as I was the first of my family, including all my cousins, to drop out of school. But it was what I needed to do.

For the first time in my life, I had really changed the status quo. I had made a decision with no regard to what others would think and it felt great. The next six years were a whirlwind. I lived in Colorado, Germany, and Texas. I spent two years in Afghanistan. I had the opportunity to travel the world and make memories that I never thought possible. And I made the best friends of my life.

After six years, I knew it was time to return to school. Norwich accepted me back to finish my senior year and I started back up again in January 2016.

It is interesting. Cadets always ask me about changes in the Corps. Gone are the BDUs and nights spent ironing and polishing boots. Gone are the original companies. And gone are a lot of the “traditions” that I experienced as a rook.

Yet all these changes only serve to highlight what makes this school great. And that is the people and the friendships formed. It is full of people who have chosen to take a more difficult path. People who understand discipline and love this country.

People tend to romanticize the “Old Corps.” I have this mental image of Alonzo Jackman mocking the incoming freshmen and telling them about how they are being coddled. That’s because it’s easier to look to the past than to really accept the present. The best advice I can give is to truly embrace the present. Stop worrying about what already happened, and stop fretting over what will come. If you are in a leadership position, stop trying to make everyone else’s experience yours and start helping them make the most of theirs. Make use of every day and seize every opportunity that comes your way.

We all have a gut feeling. We all know what we need to be doing. So embrace it. Live your life and don’t worry about the opinions of others. I know it can be a terrifying prospect, but it’s the only way to live without regret.

My life hasn’t turned out at all how I planned. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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