Sunday, January 20, 2013

But seriously, who left me in charge?

Leaving college, in my mind, is somewhat similar to being pushed out of a lovely, fully padded, alcohol-filled plane full of your friends and naps. On this plane, you are safe. You are 'figuring out what you want to do'. You are 'experimenting'. And by experimenting, I mean rationalizing not going to class because you have the world's worst hangover and nothing has ever felt as right as these sweatpants and you already knew the lesson anyway and the TA isn't very nice and you can suck up to that guy who has those notes and okay, bed it is. You are going out on weekends to hideous frat houses, you are taking courses like 'Yiddish Love stories' to fill ridiculous prerequisite requirements, and most of all, you are in a bubble where it's okay to be unsure of what you're doing. 

Then you leave college. Maybe you move back in with your parents. Maybe you have a weird job that you will definitely only be doing for 6 more months to pay the bills. Maybe you follow your love interest or your hobby or a band out to some random state and make a new life there. Maybe you're a big shot with a shiny fresh college degree that you display next to your shiny new suits and your shiny new microwave. Either way, the game changes. People expect things of you. You are responsible for things. You are IN CHARGE. Tasks, ranging from the most menial to the most complex, are now your problem. Yes, people might be double-checking your actions, but overall, oh hey, this is your thing now. We trust you to get it done, and get it done right. And while that's awesome, it's also horrifically terrifying.

When I got into nursing school, I was ecstatic. Shocked. Overjoyed. Nauseous. And in a fit of joy later that day, I ended up using hair conditioner on my face in an accidental misguided attempt to use it as a facial scrub. And while my eyelashes were super soft, it made me beg the question: How do I stop my face from radiating expensive foreign oil smells? And also, WHO left me in charge? I mean, I more often than not eat the sticker on the apple. I am constantly knocking over glasses of water, I can't remember why I go into a room half the time, and when I get nervous and I am pressured for an answer I usually just spit out the first thing that comes to mind---"FORK" (uhhhh no, the answer we were looking for was 'seven.'") All in all, none of these things inspire the confidence of "Yes, I should be legally allowed to inject people with things. Kindly hand me that needle so we can get started".

Within the past 2 weeks, I have packed up 8 boxes and 4 suitcases full of clothes and kitchen appliances and twenty silver mercury glass accent pieces (my policy on decorating is if it all looks the same, it must match) and planed, trained, and automobiled my way to a new city. I have crammed everything into a matchbox apartment teetering at the top of a number of stairs that Rapunzel would be jealous of. Everyday I catch a shuttle to an amazing school parked outside of a beautiful ship and sit through lectures about vital signs and care plans. And I love every second of it. But coupled with that love is an honest gut-wrenching fear to start *doing* things*. Excitement as well, of course, but with a thin veil of terror that makes me stress eat just a *tiny* bit more (which puts me up to eating a total of 1.5 lbs of pasta per sitting). What if I'm horrible at nursing? What if I mess up and hurt/maim/kill someone? I've had some very sweet friends and colleagues tell me not to worry, but they're not the ones tripping on their own feet and nearly burning down the house via flaming potato (true story). I mean, for God's sake, I once vacuumed the cord back into the vacuum and blew out the fuse box for half of my house. But by all means, place the care of your frail mother into my clumsy accident-prone hands.

I think the best way to describe the fear is having the knowledge that you’re at that moment where you become the person behind the curtain. All of our lives, we’ve grown up and worked towards goals. We've been told to take certain paths and do certain things to achieve a future. We went to classes and did extracurricular activities and hired tutors and filled out mind numbing essays and sat through review sessions so that one day, we could fill out our resumes and get into that job, that school, or that internship that would make us what we wanted to be. But how about the moment when you’re actually handed the scalpel, the wheel, the needle, the pen, the machine? What about the moment when you become what you’ve been working for? What if you’re not right for it? What if you fail?

I know that the only way to answer those questions is just to do, to try, to be. Everyone was new at some point, and one day I will look back and laugh at that time where I didn't blink for 7 hours straight because I was too nervous about missing something. As people get older, they have no choice but to grow, in some capacity, because time changes and they see or think new things. But to me, there is not greater rate of growth than when you're thrown into something in the baptism by fire scenario. You're thrown headfirst into the deep end, and whatever you scramble to do or say first shows how you'll handle yourself and the situation. In the end, you walk out stronger, more experienced, and shaking like a leaf on heroin. And as I age (weird), I realize that it's better to have done something and screwed up, instead of wondering years later what would have happened if I'd just bitten the bullet and jumped, or spoken up, or joined that club, or taken the stage.

So, I guess, here it goes. :)

1 comment:

  1. I will be talking from the point of my personal experience here…
    The best way to approach this New Adult Life is to remember that with every day you are moving further away from being “new” like you said. As long as you have a point of focus, a long term goal, you will know what to do in a short time. Every step forward toward a goal will be making to you more sense than a step to a No Where. If you know where you are going, go. If you do not, take your time and find your destination. Choose people over things. Look for good peeps. People will affect your life a lot, including your career. Plus, have fun! You only have one life to live , before you are reincarnated into your next one ;-)
    I personally want to be my cat….