“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I walked away from the Army just six years short of a pension, having spent my entire adult life in uniform. It was the only job I’d ever had. I knew if I didn’t leave then, I never would. Ironically, quitting feels like one of the bravest things I ever did.

I have no regrets. I do have questions, though. I wonder who I might’ve been in a different life, and which parts of me were forever altered by the experience. Would I have been a better, kinder person otherwise? Happier? Slower to anger? I wonder how to explain two wars to my daughters—and if knowing will change how they see their daddy. I wonder if I’ll rediscover a sense of purpose. Or feel brave again.

Is this life of mine still just as wild and precious, here at the end of my fourth decade? I once worried that I came to HBS too late. Now, I think I arrived right on time. I needed those years to become the person who was ready for this.

I can become someone else—and show those like me that this path is open to them, too. It’s never too late.

— T.J. Root