Archive for August, 2007

New Semester, Old Fears

I’m a week into my second semester, and I’m feeling a little weird. I feel like my heart isn’t into it, or I haven’t shook off the lazy summer attitude and slid into the rhythm of school life. I’m having a hard time focusing, and I skipped this morning’s lecture. I need to shake off this ennui and focus. If I don’t, I’m in a lot of trouble. I can’t mess up again.

When I first started feeling depressed in 2004, it was because I was afraid of finishing college and becoming an adult. Now, almost 3 years later I can’t wait to start a career and have a life of my own. I am sick of feeling like I am stalling, living with my mother. But now, instead of having a great opportunity as an educator, wonderful connections with my professors and a bright future ahead of me, I am rebuilding my reputation as a sane person and scraping together grades to get into nursing school. And honestly, I am really afraid that I am getting depressed again.

Why is this happening? I have been symptom free for 15 months. I had a successful last semester, and I received honors. I am finally starting to pay off my few debts and repair my horrible credit after ruining it, and I lost 20 pounds this summer. If I can just FOCUS and get through these next few years, I can get a job as a nurse that pays well and is rewarding.

I am in a chemistry class for the first time in my life. I am so afraid that I am not smart enough to obtain an ‘A’ in this class that I could cry. And yesterday, Mom said that she is worried that I am getting into nursing for the wrong reasons. Yes, Mom, I am getting into nursing for the wrong reasons. The career that I hoped and dreamed for- being a teacher- is no longer possible. I was kicked out of the Education program at my last college for flunking out. I had to pick something else to do with my life. What else could I do for a living that pays well, that offers me a lifestyle I could be proud of, and gives me the opportunity to help people, but nursing? Everyday I doubt myself about my choice. I’m scared that one day down the road I’m going to crack and realize that I really, really don’t want to be a nurse and that I was just fooling myself into a job that I don’t really want.

When I started college in 2001 I picked Art Education because I loved art, not because I wanted to teach. Loving teaching came later, and soon overshadowed my love for art. It was helping people that I loved, and I supposed I also loved being the person a room full of people looked up to for advice, wisdom, and with respect. I liked being “on top” and not having an immediate supervisor to answer to. I like the autonomy of teaching, the creativity of curricula and the satisfaction of seeing my students grow as people and as artists. It was rewarding. After my depression and leaving U**, I observed my mom at her job- nursing. Like a teacher, she educated her patients on aftercare and offered her advice. Her patients look to her for wisdom and entrust in her knowledge and expertise in her field. I enjoyed the day I spent with her, the camaraderie she shared between her fellow nurses, and the feeling of satisfaction I felt that she had made a difference in the life of another human being.

That was a year ago. Since then, my mom tells me stories about egotistical, chauvinistic doctors that after ten years, don’t even know her name. Of being ordered around like some lackey, instead of a nurse with a bachelor’s degree and 13 years of critical care experience under her belt. Of patients from hell (and especially their families) who disrespect her and order her around like some hotel employee, expecting her to come running to their bedside with some mints for their pillow every time they ring their bell. And it all terrifies me. I really have a problem with authority. I have little patience with stupid people, and I really can’t stand being disrespected. I would have a hard time biting my tongue in many of the situations that my mom has been gracious.

To be honest, part of the reason why I chose art and education as my field in the first place was because, to me, art and education are noble fields. It is romantic to wax philosophic about art, and it’s romantic to think of our children as our future. I thought I was “making a difference’ by teaching, and I thought I was better than everyone else because I had an immense body of knowledge to cull from when it came to art. Now, I think taking care of sick people is noble, but it is also humbling. As an intern I’ll be cleaning dirty bodies, changing bed pans, getting vomited on and blood sprayed on my clothes… the list goes on and on. I’m not a priss, but I guess I feel like I’m too good to deal with the ugly side of humanity. I’ve read too many bucolic poems and examined one too many pastoral paintings to deal with the dirty side of life.

I think that is really my problem, the root of my fear about nursing- I’m not ready to be humiliated by the gritty side this career offers.


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