When I started this all, I half doubted I would finish. I laid awake till 4:30 a.m. the night before I was to register for classes. I weighed options on imaginary scales, I flipped mental coins, I made bargains with myself: If I try one semester, I can quit after that. No one will blame me. I wrote pages in my journal and scratched a pros vs. cons list out on paper trying to decide if I was making the right decision.
Weary and trying to distract myself that evening I picked up a magazine and began reading an article. While I don't remember what the article focused on or what the point of it was, I do remember picking out a quotation amongst the otherwise jumbled words- Whether you do something about it or not, the time will pass. Okay, so I don't even remember the exact words that were used, but this is what has stuck with me after all this time. The next day I found myself registering for classes with a knot in my throat and nervous excitement boiling inside of me.
And so, time did pass while I went to school. Sometimes I seriously doubted my choice. This, after all, was not what I had envisioned for myself when I had once looked ahead toward the future. It was not what I had in mind for my children either. There was always the worry that I would miss something important or that they might despise me for doing this at all. I cannot count how many times I was quitting over the years- all the while knowing I probably would not stop halfway through. Ryan quit reacting to my words, That's it! I'm done with this. I'm going to quit. The funny thing was- he always said so calmly, "That's fine. Be done right now if you want." But it was never quite the right time to be done. Weeelll, I'd reason with myself, I'll just finish out this week. This month. This semester. The LPN year.
It might sound as if I don't really want to be a nurse at all. And quite truthfully, there have been times I've doubted that as well. On my first day of clinical during my LPN year, I think I came home and cried. I'll never forget the way my stomach dropped when my instructor led us into the hall in the nursing home that first morning and said, "Okay. Go wake up your resident." How, I wondered, was it possible that I had made it this far into the program without really becoming prepared for this part. Patient care, after all, was where everything we learned was applied.
In reality, there is no preparing completely for anything. In nursing school as in life, we can only prepare to a certain point- after that you have to experience it to truly understand it. Sometimes it goes how we've imagined it, sometimes it's a surprising contrast to our plans. And, yet either way- somehow after the first time you've attempted something it's never quite so scary again. All the firsts a person goes through in life makes us a little stronger. Every step takes you a bit further. And after that first bed bath, then the first insulin shot, the first IM injection, the first dreaded catheter, I began to understand that I would be okay. No one else stated out knowing everything on day one, and there was no way I would either.
And time continued to pass as things became a little easier, a little more interesting, until I actually could admit that I really liked what I was doing. A bonus when you've already invested so much time into something, really. I kept going because I wanted to make it to the end. I kept going because no matter how many times I let myself think I wouldn't finish I always felt the reminder that time was passing. I kept going becuase I wanted to be a nurse.
Time went by, life happened, I didn't quit. And it's easy to say now, I think I always knew I'd make it.
Eighteen more days...