Lesson 1: No matter what your background, everyone starts as a rainbow.
The first day of basic training is guaranteed to be one of the worst days of your life. The hours are intensely long, you are surrounded by hundreds of men and women, most of whom you don’t know or have never seen before, you are in several places throughout the day and night that are unfamiliar, and the people in uniform, are not the most pleasant. “Not the most pleasant,” is actually an understatement. They trained day and night for weeks in the art of making your experience as difficult and stressful as possible. They all treat you as if you are the dumbest and most ignorant person that has ever existed, and it gets to the point where you eventually start to believe them.
You are looking around and notice that everyone is clearly thinking the same things as you are, and most likely feeling the same exact sentiment. “What the heck have I done? How could I have been so stupid? Why would anyone willingly do what I have just done to myself?” You are not alone, because everyone there is thinking about it. You may not notice it, but underneath all the shouting, yelling, verbal abuse that is being thrown around, everyone else that is there for the first time is on the same page as you. Everyone is believing at this point that they have made a grievous error in judgment and knows that life will never be the same again.
It is referred to as “Rainbow Week” because no one is wearing the same thing and the number of different colors around you is enough to make the MTI’s (Military Training Instructors) even angrier. There is no uniformity. No sense of order. Everyone looks different. No one knows how to do anything. Worse, no one knows how to do things in unison. As far as the MTI’s are concerned, hundreds of children just arrived at their doorstep and they have to use the many years of military training and experience that they have gained over the years to hold the hand of each and every new recruit through the process of getting organized into different training units. Nobody cares where anyone has come from. The only thing that matters to them is that you have chosen to inconvenience the MTI’s by being there. As far as the MTI’s are concerned, everyone is equally stupid, clueless, and a waste of oxygen and space.
Rainbow week is where it all starts. Learn that your personal history is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the Air Force and how, or if, you are going to fit in. It is the start of a life of inclusion, discipline, commitment, service, sacrifice, and daily evolution. No matter how repetitive things seem, there is always something new to adapt to. Rainbow Week is the “Wake up call” that you could never begin to fathom without ever having experienced it. It also makes things much more simple later in life. There are a few jobs that are going to humble you more during the initiation process. The most important lesson to learn during Rainbow Week is, “Learn to take your slice of humble pie with a grain of salt.” Everyone starts as a Rainbow.