Happiness is a state of Mind

By: Greg Clevenger

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A brief look

So I am not one to normally do digital thing but hey might as well try it. I'm Greg Clevenger and I am a 19 year old college student at Ball State as well as a Private in the US Army. I have 5 siblings and 4 parents and right now live up at Ball State University with my girlfriend. I am currently studying Criminal Justice and Criminology with a double minor in Arson Management and Social Psychology. When I'm not studying or working I love spending time outdoors whether it be riding my skateboard around Muncie, going swimming or boating, or just hanging out with friends. Though one of my favorite things to do is travel. I have been to over 6 different countries and love not only to see new things and new people but also to find a way to help those that I meet. I did that through countless mission trips along with community service right in our own backyard. I was able to achieve these things through the support I got from my family, the determination and drive I learned from the military, and the love I was show by those that are wiser than I will ever be. I had a few influential experiences in my life that made me into the man I am today and taught me to never stop believing in myself, in love, and in the world!

Family: The first struggle

So we all struggle with our parents and having people constantly tell us what to do when we feel we know best and that it’s so unfair having two people who control your life. Now imagine four people instead of two, sounds horrible right? You’re probably thinking how can I have 4 parents? Well it has to do with the fact that my parents got divorced when I was in the fifth grade. When I was in fifth grade my parents got a divorce. It wasn't your classic they hated each other and the kids were stuck in the middle messy divorce. No our family isn't normal nor can we ever be normal. Instead they were very supportive of myself and my brother. It was all very surreal for me and while I didn't feel different something in me had changed. I no longer cared about school and doing things that I thought were insignificant. I changed because I suddenly had to grow up really fast and instead of playing and screwing around I suddenly was put in charge of both myself and my 6 year old brother because instead of being raised by parents that were home we were raised by ourselves. My mother became a workaholic and would work 60 hour weeks and seemed to not get home till after I put my brother to bed. I suddenly had to clean the house, make lunches, make dinner, make sure my brother did his homework, took a shower, brushed his teeth, everything. Not to mention the fact that once I finished all the stuff for the house and taking care of him I had to do my own homework and my things. I lived like this till I was a sophomore in high school and Dave came into our lives. But I’m getting ahead of myself. While I was doing this for my mom I also lived with my dad as well. They had a strange arrangement on Mondays and Sunday’s my brother and I would stay with our dad. On Tuesdays Wednesdays and Thursdays we would stay with our mom. On Friday and Saturday they would switch who got us because it was the few days they wouldn't be swamped with work. When after the divorce my dad got remarried to my mom’s best friend, Rachel, roughly 3 years later. That was how I got my first step brother and sister, Sarah and Cameron. My mom also got remarried my sophomore year to Dave. Dave and mom met on a plane from Denver to Spokane where they talked the entire flight and it was like my mother didn't know she had kids! When we got there they parted ways and we went onto our resort in Idaho he went to his home in Spokane, only he couldn't get my mom out of his head! A couple of days later he randomly showed up outside our resort looking for her so my family lovely nicknamed him stalker for the first year they dated. When they got married in May of my sophomore year I suddenly got two more siblings, another brother, Austin, and sister, Bailey, so my simple family of 4 became a family of 10 real fast and the fun is just beginning.

Military

Military: The job that never ends

In my junior year of high school I made a really big decision and swore my life away to the US Army. This was a quick process but had a large impact in where my life was headed. I started the process on October 25th, 2012 and I was swearing in on Nov 2, 2012. Now before joined the military I was a hippie stoner that was going nowhere in life fast. My high school career was coming to an end and I had no plan and nothing to show for it accept a lot of good memories and a 2.0 GPA. I was the stereotypical stoner. I had long hair, wore beaded bracelets and necklaces, bob Marley and ripped shorts and never wore shoes. My life goal was to take my baby blue 1986 dodge caravan to California and live on the beach. I had no clue what I was going to do. To this day I don't know what changed my mind but I woke up one day and realized I wanted more out of life. So I tried to assess the damage I had done and realized I had very few options so I started to look at the military. I wanted to go active duty and my parents were not pleased to say the least. In their mind I was seventeen and had my whole life ahead of me I didn’t need to go and get myself shot and killed. SO we compromised. I joined the National Guard and had the military pay for college and wait until after college to go active duty or not. I took the tests and score a 96 out of a 99 on the ASVAB, the military test, and they told me I could be anything I wanted. So I chose infantry because I could not sit behind a desk and push papers. I wanted my life to mean something. I left for basic training and AIT on July 8th and that is when I learned the meaning of the words hard work, determination, and heart. Basic was 6 months of hell in the Georgia heat at Fort Benning, home of the infantry. I don’t know what is wrong with me but there are days I miss the grueling heat and the constant strain you put on your body as you get screamed at by Drill Sergeants. Out of the 240 people that went in to basic only 137 of us passed and became infantrymen. I learned my limits while I was there. I learned who I was and what I would do to achieve my goals. I learned purpose and discipline and that will I have no fear. I will never quit. I cannot go back I can only keep moving forward and learn from my mistakes.

★ U.S. Armed Forces - We Must Fight - President Reagan (HD) 2014 ★

El Salvador: The people that taught me appreciation

As I stated earlier I have been 6 different countries including Mexico, Peru, and Nigeria. I went to all this places on tons of mission trips but my most memorable was the trip to El Salvador. Now I had traveled before and to me this was just another trip to help people. I never once imagined that it would affect me in such a lasting manner. I went to El Salvador in 2011 with my church youth group through an organization call SLAM, Students Living a Mission. I have worked with them before and we were set to go build a community house for the children so that they may have a cooler place to learn. We also we building an orchard so that the community may have an abundance of fresh fruit. I gave my strength to help these people have a better life but they gave me so much more. When I was there I saw men women and children smiling and as happy as can be. It made no sense to me because these people had barely anything! Children ran around with no shoes on, women worked their fingers to the bone making cloth to later sell. The men worked in dumps digging out materials that they could later sell. They lived in houses made of cardboard and trash bags but it was like it didn't matter! There was no such thing as running water or electricity and the floor was made of dirt. I couldn't figure out why these people were so happy so decided to spend time with them and figure out what made them so care free. I learned that they did not fear the fact that they were running out of food and didn't know where their next meal was coming from. I learned that they were happy because they were alive TODAY and did not worry about the past or the future because god will provide. They enjoyed today because it was a gift and a blessing that they were given and that they were happy to be able to spend time with their friends and family. They didn't care for money or clothes or electronics. It wasn't necessary. They had those that mattered most to them and that was all they needed. “God will provide the rest” they would say, “care for those around you and God will care for you”. Forever that lesson will stick with me and constantly teach me that to appreciate that what I have and love those around me. I can’t control what happens to me but I can control how I react to it. I chose to love and appreciate every day no matter how bad life gets there is always good that shines through!

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Contact

If you would like to talk more or share your own experiences please contact me