I'm about to head down to MEPS and I would like to know what you wish you had known before you joined.
Everything... but I don't think you can be prepared even if you are told what to expect. It is an experience that every one takes something different from and most of the ex-Navy people I have met have done just that even if they continue on into traditional nuclear careers after the Navy.
I do wish I had learned earlier to be more gung-ho when on duty and to get farther away from anything Navy on "my time".
The strips that tend to grow up outside of Military bases are full of people who make a living out of pulling money out of young sailors pockets, even though this was obvious I found myself in some of those stores anyway.
When in a foreign port your friends may be fun to party with but don't miss the opportunity to see the country and people of the land you are in away from the tourist traps and not with any loud and obnoxious shipmates (the "Ugly American").
I wish I had known not to try and make sense of some things, they just are what they are and will probably never change.
There is a little parable about a little bird who did not fly south with the rest of the migrating flock, I wish I had heard it earlier in my career.
Once upon a time there was a non-conforming sparrow, who decided not to fly south for the winter. However, soon the weather turned so cold that he reluctantly started to fly south. In a short time ice began to form on his wings, and he fell into a barn yard, and almost froze to death.
A cow passed by and crapped on the little bird. The sparrow thought this was his end. But instead, the manure warmed him and defrosted his wings.
Warm and happy, able to breathe he started to sing. Just then a large cat came by and, hearing the chirping, investigated the sound. The cat cleared away the manure, found the chirping bird and promptly ate him up.
The moral of the story:
1. Everyone who poops on you is not necessarily your enemy.
2. Everyone who gets you out of the poop is not necessarily your friend.
3. If you are warm and happy in a pile of poop - keep your mouth shut.
Are we back on topic now