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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

CAREER: The young man and the sea
Letter #: 408882
Category: Other

Original Letter

Hello, I am 20 years old, and I need some advice, because my life is torn apart by my feelings and my rational thinking side. I've never had it easy (I got picked on and became very closed off),so even back in school I always followed the idea of sacrificing today for a better tomorrow. So as a result I never allowed myself to become too close to anyone. I started at college right after high school (I'm studying to become a ship's officer), served some time in the Navy and got a taste of the sea, and indeed it felt good, and invoked a passion in me. The good, simple and honest life of a seaman is very attractive to me. While the life I've chosen to pursue is incredibly free and liberating from the troubles of the world, it is also equally lonely. My plan was to finish school, get a job and start a family and have kids, but recently for the first time I felt something I could only describe as real love. Nothing as plain and vulgar as purely physical desire, but a more deep, emotional connection. While it did not work out in the end, it left a mark on me: a need for more. It is as if I discovered a new part of myself and a need to love and to be loved. I am human and I need to be loved just like everybody else does. But this is but a stark reminder that with the life I've chosen the reality is that I won't be able form a stable lasting relationship (not really interested in any other kind) for at least 4 more years. I will be away off at sea several times in that time for up to 12 months at a time, and I sincerely doubt that any woman would stay true to me for such a period and probably neither will I. But I have no desire to give up my dreams, for it is a good life and a good career and I am very persistent and it is incredibly difficult for me not to finish something I started. But I just don't know how to control my emotions and feelings and how to satisfy my need for love.

Elder Response

I chose your letter to answer because I loved the title - and I married a sailor - so I think I can tell you from experience that there are definitely women who can remain loyal for long periods of time. My husband went back to sea shortly after our wedding and he was gone for nine months. In those days we didn't have email and Skype and all the wonderful communication methods there are today. Our marriage survived on snail mail and the occasional expensive telephone call from a distant port. 

I do understand your need to 'love and be loved' - it's a very basic human need - and now that you have actually experienced 'real' love, even although it didn't work out for you, you know that it exists and you can and will find it again. I have to say though that at 20 you have lots of time to find that love.  Even four years down the road (I assume you have 'signed up' to go to sea for that period) you will still be only twenty-four - still pretty young to settle down and have a family.

You've chosen a great career and I'm so glad you have a passion for the sea.  However, I hope you didn't choose a life on board ship because you really believe it will liberate you from the troubles of the world, because that isn't necessarily true, nor is it totally a good thing. I believe we need to be aware of what goes on in the world around us today and not try to isolate ourselves from it no matter how tempting that may be. It doesn't need to be a lonely life, either, unless you choose it to be. I don't know where you live, or what kind of ship you're going to be an officer on - navy, merchant ship, passenger liner - but you'll probably have lots of opportunity to make friends on board and presumably also when you come ashore on leave. 

I'm so sorry that you were bullied and picked on in school, but please don't let these memories stop you from making friends as the adult you are now. It sounds as if you've been a bit of a loner, but this will be a new start for you and I hope you'll include making friends in your plans for the future. You can also learn a lot from shipmates about how they make their relationships work - I would guess that many, if not most, career sailors are married or in relationships.  From my past experience as a Navy wife,  I think 'the girl in every port' scenario palls very quickly. It used to be - maybe still is - that a wife/partner was actually an asset to a ship's officer for social occasions and entertainlng when on leave and being a support and friend to other naval wives.

You sound like a wonderful, thoughtful young man and I sincerely hope you don't discount the fact  that you could very well meet a girl who will be patient and faithful enough to wait for you. There are so many different ways to keep in pretty constant touch these days, which makes long-distance relationships a little easier. Conversely, you may decide over the next few years to date different girls when the opportunity arises so that when you are ready to settle down you will have a clear idea of what you're looking for in a partner.  

I wish you the very best in your career at sea, whether you make it a 'forever' career or not. I truly hope you'll find true love again when the time is right for you.  Please feel free to write again any time. 


Best Regards,



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