I met Kevin when I was Junior in High School. We became friends almost instantaneously, bonding over our disdain for the class we were in together. This was well over 7 years ago and we remain friends to this day.
While most 18 year old teenagers are faced with decisions based on college, Kevin was faced with the horrors of war. Deciding to forgo college and join the Marines right after graduating High School, Kevin took a path most kids that age wouldn’t dare go down.
I’ve always admired Kevin not only for the selfless sacrifices he’s made, but also for his ability to rise past the residual scars that those sacrifices left – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I’m incredibly happy that he took the time to give his views on happiness, being someone that has seen so many things on the opposite side of the spectrum of happiness.
10 Questions About Happiness
1. How do you define happiness?
K.S: I define happiness from the struggles and problems I have, I truly believe you cant be happy until you learn from your wrongs.
Happiness cant be made, it has to be built.
You need friends – you really need friends to see you to your happy times.
2. What has been your happiest moment in life so far?
K.S: The happiest moment in my life so far has been seeing mine and my brother’s favorite band “Architects” in NYC. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together anymore due to our hectic work schedules and he’s my best friend, so that meant a lot to me.
3. Is your idea of happiness any different than 5 years ago?
K.S: My idea of happiness is different from 5 years, yes.
5 years ago I was a completely different person in the military, things were unusual to someone of my stature. I had a lot more friends. I always had people around, now I have hardly any friends that wanna do anything or pick up the phone.
Happiness was friendship to me, and I feel I lost quite a bit of that.
4. You joined the military right out of high school while other kids were going off to college – how do you think this impacted your happiness?
K.S: I joined the military right out of high school yes, becoming a marine was my dream as a little kid. I did what I wanted to do with no hesitation, however, I know it impacted me in a big way. While my friends were out in college and working high paying jobs I was sacrificing so much for such little pay and that hit me hard.
While I’m older and more mature now, my happiness was impacted because I thought they were better than me – here I was in a warzone losing sleep, friends and getting shot at, meanwhile they’re playing beer pong and becoming doctors.
5. There is a mental health crisis surrounding service members returning from war – a staggering 22 veterans commit suicide a day and PTSD runs rampant. How did you maintain your happiness when returning home? How do you still maintain it today?
K.S: 22 veterans take their lives everyday, PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) affect more veterans than I can mention.
I suffer from PTSD. Its with me everyday, there’s truly no way to get rid of it, its with you forever.
I have had many days and even a few episodes where I wanted to take my own life because of it. You feel out of place. You feel not worthy. You feel not normal and that all eyes are on you because you are different.
Coming home was hard, I lost a lot of friends that I thought would never leave, but honestly I found my happiness with a fishing pole, my gear and some beers to take the edge off. To this day, I continue to fish, I enjoy working night shifts to keep my mind off things and I have some friends now that I know I can count on.
6. While deployed overseas, how did you and the other service members maintain happiness when faced with the constant stress?
K.S: Overseas the best way to maintain happiness was communication with one another and writing letters to family and friends. Building a brotherhood in the military, especially in the Marines, can save a lot of guys.
7. What is one thing you do each day that creates a sense of happiness within yourself?
K.S: One thing I do everyday to maintain happiness is, as crazy as it sounds, looking at myself in the mirror.
I’m still here, after everything I’ve been through.
I look in the mirror and let that man know “you made it, look at you, keep going.”
8 .What has been the lowest point in your life in regards to happiness?
K.S: The lowest point in my life in regards to happiness is the hardest and most difficult question on here.
Not too many people know this about me, but I’m open to sharing and I’m hoping maybe this can save someone. A few years back before my 25th birthday I got a DUI and my reputation shattered, people were saying things online about me; “From hero to zero” is a comment that got me.
I remember going to court and losing my license. I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t go anywhere, people were saying shit.
Man, I’ll tell you, I took my brothers handgun and came inches to taking my own life. But I couldn’t do it because I remembered all the good things I still have: my family, some close friends, a job, a place to live.
Happiness saved me in a way because I didn’t wanna leave those good things behind.
9. What is one piece of advice you wish you heard when you were younger?
K.S: One piece of advice I wish I heard when I was younger is “It gets better”.
Because it really does.
10. Are you happy?
K.S: Am I happy? I cant lie and say yes because I’m not the greatest in that way, but i’m glad to be here.
I’m glad that you, Sean Fitz, took the time to interview me, thank you.
“10 Questions About Happiness” are posts that explore what happiness means to different people. These people come from all walks of life – some are successful in their respective careers while others are struggling to stay afloat, some live exciting lives while others live day-to-day. Happiness to one person may be completely different to another – the goal is to find what happiness means to different people and how we can apply it to our own lives.
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