Last month, I made the hardest decision of my adult life thus far. I quit my job. Well, it wasn't even as simple as that. I've left jobs in the past, ready to try something different and new.
No, dear readers, I quit nursing. I quit the career I chose for myself a decade ago. A scared and excited 18-year-old ready to set out, get a degree in nursing, and help people. But that's all over. For now, possibly forever.
I'm not going to lie to you. I'm terrified, hurting (although this is getting better), excited, nauseous. I've felt every possible emotion these past months to their extremes. But this is for the best.
I'm sure many of you have questions.
This wasn't a decision made easily or quickly. It started as a quiet voice whispering in the recesses of my mind. It got louder over the years, always with the same irritating, pounding question: "Kelly, what are you doing?" I ignored the question because, quite frankly, I was too cowardly to answer it. Usually I thought, "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I have no idea!" Healthy, I know.
I didn't know what I was doing. I was going through the motions of my life with no real enjoyment or understanding. I was standing on the outside completely incapable of finding a way in. I got a degree, then I got a job. That's what we are supposed to do, right?
Because I had no real answer for the voice in my head, (asinine screaming matches guaranteed to make me look like a raging lunatic didn't count) I shoved it away. I ignored it. I marked it down as "don't answer," like the voice was a creep ex-boyfriend I was desperate to avoid.
I first heard the voice my Junior year of college. I was well into my first semester of nursing school, and I was miserable. I chalked it up to the bad breakup I was going through, and the intense longing to be back in Waco with my best friends. (Baylor's nursing program is two years in Waco, two years in Dallas) Looking back, while all of those feelings were very real and present, I often wonder if my feelings of despair also came from a place of not pursuing my passion. Instead I was working towards a degree I didn't give two shits about.
Yes, I was excited about hospital life (ha!), the hustle and bustle of patient care, getting to know patients and families, helping people. But besides that, I didn't feel much of anything. Sort of a "meh" to what I was going to be doing with the rest of my life. I despised nursing school. It was hard and intense, but I figured hatred was the general consensus.
What I have realized over this past year of soul searching is just how detrimental forcing yourself to do something you don't want can be. But what was I to do? What are any of us to do? Start over? Choose a different major? It is so ingrained in us from an early age not to quit. Never give up! Get a job! Stop wasting money! Be a functioning part of society!
Does part of me wish I had said "screw all that noise" and gone to my parents to discuss how I was feeling? Told them how unhappy I was? Well, yeah. Of course I do. But, I also cannot regret the path I chose. The field of nursing taught me lessons I will carry with me always, brought me life-long friends (from all three jobs I had), and introduced me to some of the bravest, strongest, most beautiful patients and families I have ever met. It was truly an honor, and I can never regret that.
So where does that leave me? Unfortunately, the voice in my head this past year became a real nagging biotch. Just wouldn't shut up, louder and louder. It was insistent. "KELLY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" So many days I wanted to scream at it, telling it to fuck off already, can't you see how miserable you're making me? But still it stayed, my constant companion. There with my morning coffee, there tucking me in at night. Always loudest at work. And here comes the embarrassing part.
The stress. The constant second guessing yourself. The suffocating weight that sits on your chest when you realize your life is going down a road you did not carve out. It takes a toll. This past year I started taking anxiety medication. At one point I thought I was a goner when I started having constant heart palpitations. After a full cardiac work-up with no significant findings the palpitations were determined to be caused by stress and anxiety. My hands shake. My marriage took a hit because I was such a miserable hag to be around. I could cry at the drop of a hat. I called into work too often because the thought of doing another day of what was killing my soul caused such a visceral reaction I had a full blown panic attack. I've gotten fat (fatter) because I couldn't muster the energy to take care of myself. In a nutshell, I became a mess of a person this past year. I hid it well, but inside I was cracked. Bruised. I was treading water.
I'm not proud of any of that. I realize to some or many I come across as pretty weak. Petty even. It's embarrassing to admit how low I got. But I hope it explains my decision a bit more. I played it off for so long. Ignored how my body was now teaming up with my mind telling me to stop and take a step back. I'm listening now.
I can no longer watch my life go by while I sit on the sidelines and cry. I just can't do it. I have too much to offer and we only get one life. So, I'm doing it. I'm taking a giant ass leap of faith. I know I am disappointing people. I'm disappointed myself. I'm mad my life came to this. But I'm jumping in people.
And you know what this decision has brought me?
Beautiful, forgiving freedom.
So, goodbye nursing! You've been a beautiful adventure. And also a wretched bitch.
Keep an eye out for more to come and what this means for my life! The possibilities are endless, and I couldn't be happier.
Until next time,
**I honestly could not have made this life changing decision without the constant love and support from my family and friends. You know who you are. Thanks for your ears and your hearts.