Thursday, October 24, 2013

Now What?

I remember being four years old and people asking me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I never had to hesitate before I would say, "a nurse." That changed in third grade when I had a teacher tell me I should aim higher, so I decided I wanted to be a doctor. Again, I was deterred when I was ready to go to college. After many twists, turns and six years of college, I finally realized my prophecy from toddlerhood: I became a nurse.

I began my career in the Medical Intensive Care Unit of a Dallas hospital, and continued from there as a pediatric nurse at Children's Medical Center Dallas--the very hospital where I was diagnosed with diabetes. I reached my dream and the pinnacle of my career four years ago when I became a pediatric certified diabetes educator. Now, I'm a school nurse and not a day goes by that I don't have a great story or some kid who makes me smile. My career--albeit short--has provided me with great reward, great stories, a fantastic knowledge base, fairly decent medical care for myself, and flexibility to move around, grow and attempt a work-life balance. Yes, there are circumstances that make you want to retire sometimes, but for the most part, the rewards are greater than the trials.

And you know what? I don't want to do it anymore.

WHAAAAAAAT?!? You may--or may not--be thinking one of the following: But it's such a great career! You can do anything you want! You'll always have a job! Nurses make such great money! Nursing is such an honorable profession! I don't want to make assumptions, but given that I hear these all...the...time, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that, somewhere in there, I'm right.

If you think I haven't beaten myself up about this, you'd be sorely mistaken. My "granny" was a nurse--for 32 a psych hospital. Many of the nurses I've met have withstood some pretty shoddy conditions to remain in their honorable profession for 25-plus years. Many others still that I graduated with not only stuck it out, but have gone on to earn advanced degrees. So what's wrong with me?

Absolutely nothing. There is nothing wrong with the fact that I am ready to move on. I've been in healthcare for the last twelve years. No, that's not my granny's 30-plus years, but by today's standards, that's quite a long stretch. It's not going to do me--or you--any favors to go into why I'm ready to move on. It should be enough (and it is for me) that it's time.

So now what? I don't know. That's okay, too. I just have a process to go through to try to figure out what's next. What am I good at? What would I want to wake up and do every day? How can I do that and still have medical insurance and buy dog food (yes, there are some logistics that remain)?

Maybe I'll arrange flowers. Or be a rodeo clown. Or a bricklayer. Or a basketball player. Or a hobo. Probably not a hobo, but I don't want to leave any stone unturned.

The reason I'm putting this out here is because I know for a fact that I'm not the only one who feels this way. But I do think many times we're shamed into keeping quiet about it for a multitude of reasons; a lot of them boil down to keeping up with the Joneses (money, a "stable" career, making enough money for "stuff"). I'm not going to lie and say I'd be happy becoming a minimalist, but that just proves my point. All of this is really hard to say out loud, or put into print, where it will be forever (or until I decide my blog sucks and I want to take it down)!

I don't know what your story is, but this is mine. And I'm going to bet there are many like it. I really thought I needed permission to for it to be okay to want to do something else, and I did. From me. Now I have it, and in doing so, I realize there's absolutely nothing wrong with that or me. So I would encourage you to do the same if you're finding yourself in the same "crisis". LIfe is too short not to.

Wow, with all that wisdom, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. That's the fastest ten pounds I've ever lost.

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