A Year Later

My first annual evaluation at work took place this past week. It was an incredibly affirming, positive experience. My supervisor expressed concern that I would be “snatched away” the minute I got my master’s degree.

After all of the emotion, frustration and questions from the past year, I walked away from the eval with a surprising realization.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

My instinct on Day 1 was that I was going to love this work. I’m actually good at this, and my contributions do not go unappreciated. But somewhere along the way, I started feeling like I wasn’t being a nurse. And I started to struggle, holding up my job description to the popular image of nursing, and feeling inadequate.

I am notorious for getting ahead of myself. S calls it “borrowing trouble”. Before I even entered nursing school, I had my heart set on peds oncology. And I pursued this goal ruthlessly. When a job in peds hem/onc didn’t happen for me, I took any acute care position I could find, vowing that if I couldn’t work with kiddos, maybe I could at least find my way onto an oncology unit.

But that hasn’t happened either. And I find myself uniquely suited for the job I stumbled into. It is a great fit for the trouble-shooting, boat-rocking, advocating, relationship-centered type of nursing I have always wanted to do. The type of nursing I couldn’t find in an acute care setting. The type of nursing I probably won’t ever find in acute care.

I have realized that working as part of a multidisciplinary collaborative team is important to me. As are autonomy and creativity.

I confess that despite claiming to be open-minded about my future, I have been setting up informational interviews. I confess that my brain wants to be 100 steps ahead of reality, and that can sometimes be to my detriment. I wax philosophical about being present with my clients when I’m terrible at being present with myself. I’m terrible at being okay in the moment. I am always looking for the next better chance, the opportunity to move up or at least move on.

I’m not claiming goals are a bad thing. It’s wonderful to have your sights set on the future, to keep you going when the going gets tough. The past four years have been a testament to keeping my eyes on the prize.

But they have also been a testament to the value of flexibility and open-mindedness. Rather than resign myself to the job I have now (a job I happen to love), why not embrace the opportunity presented to me and live the fullest life possible? Rather than blame the work I do for becoming jaded, why not look inside and make a shift in my own thinking? What happened to my internal locus of control?

Why keep trying so hard to fit myself into an image of nursing that clearly doesn’t fit me? Why not use the nursing process and nursing skills I’ve attained and fit them to who I am instead? Who says there only has to be one way?

I’ve spent the better part of 31 years feeling unsettled. Untethered. And I think in the midst of becoming a nurse, that discomfort and lack of acceptance has fostered the negativity I am trying so hard to avoid.

So as part of getting over it, here’s my plan:┬áDo what I love. And what I love is empowering, educating and supporting. Wherever I can do that, I will. However I can put these concepts at the center of my nursing practice, I shall.

It’s time to get out of my head and into my life

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