Two days ago, I found myself feeling hopeless. I went numb. My initial plan was to sign onto my blog and write a bit more but I had no energy. Whatever I had been ignoring suddenly overwhelmed me. My anxiety attacks were occurring more frequently, my heart felt heavy, and I couldn’t even cry.
This year, my goal was to focus on stress reduction and stress management. I’ve been burnt out and looking for a way out of the
mind fuck labyrinth that is the life I created for myself. My solution was always to “try harder” at whatever it was I was doing. As a result, I kept burning out. And I’ve burnt out often. In my personal life, in my relationships, and now in my career choice. I eventually got symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, stomach ulcers, unclear thoughts, migraines, and tension headaches. At several points in my life, I’ve taken myself to the doctor for symptoms that often lead to a myriad of tests, that eventually lead back to them asking, “How are you managing your stress?” Burn out is not fun. The reality is that I was not following my truth and I pay hefty prices for that.
What makes it hard is having to admit to others that the very thing I said I loved with so much pride is now the very thing I despise. I haven’t wanted to admit I was wrong. As a result, I never wanted to say anything else with confidence because I didn’t want to seem fickle. I’d often imagine people chastising me or saying, “ohhhh! But I thought you said you LIKED what you were doing?” In a mocking voice. But I’ve changed. When I agreed to work in nursing, I had a list of reasons as to why I wanted to be a nurse. But as the years went on, I was able to check those things off my personal list. I grew up. I started seeing other ways to have my needs met, and bedside nursing became less and less of a passion-filled experience for me. I was telling my mom that what I use to love most about nursing was only working three days a week and never once having to think about fashion or style or “looking good” because everyone wears scrubs and sneakers or nurse shoes. But now, I long for the opportunity to “beautify” myself at work. I want to wear nice dressy outfits, or dark blue jeans, long dangling earrings, and well manicured (possibly long) nails. In addition to the desire for more fashion choices, I became disillusioned with my experiences at the bedside.
I’m not dumping on bedside nursing in the least. Bedside nurses work SO hard. Possibly too hard. And it’s never enough. It’s just never enough for anyone. In the days when I derived my worth from the amount of recognition and acknowledgement I received, this almost killed me. But now I feel I am enough. Even more, I feel I have given enough to the bedside. I know there’s a lot of people in this profession who look at me and think, “You haven’t been a nurse that long. You burnt out already?” Yes, I have. Mostly, because I’ve changed and when something no longer aligns with your values, then “length of time” involved isn’t exactly a factor. It’s only a matter of time before you let it go or let it kill you. I almost let it kill me.
Trying to “prove my value” was stupid and futile. I am a worthy individual. I’ve been talking about my feelings and outlook with anyone who’d listen. Yesterday, while driving to work, I kept asking,”What do I do? What do I do?”. It just seemed glum. For starters, I’ve worked as a bedside nurse caring for adults across the age spectrum with a myriad of illnesses and in a variety of specialties and I grew exhausted and disillusioned with every single one. I can’t see myself returning to the bedside to provide healthcare with the adult population. That chapter is through for me. What I heard inside of myself was, “When you get into grad school go!” Four hours later, I got the phone call followed by the email saying that I got into my first choice school. I’m going to graduate school.
I’m done clinging to work place perceptions as a source of self-validation. I’m done with feeling shame for admitting that bedside nursing wasn’t what I expected it to be. I don’t regret the struggle. I am, however, ready for something new. I want to grow. I want to change. I want to lead a life that’s congruent with my values and the person I am becoming. I’m done living in the past.