Prosaic Paradise

Campaign for the Mundane

What I Wanted to Be

Filed under Living Out Loud,work by at 3:50 pm on Nov 01 2009

This is an entry for Genie’s Living Out Loud project. You may remember Genie from me posting about her giving birth earlier this month. She is the happy mama of a baby boy now and I can’t wait to meet him.

Given that I’m currently reading a book about how your own self-justification can screw with your memories, I am not sure I can participate in this month’s Living Out Loud group in good faith. But I can try to remember as best I can.

As a little kid, the earliest aspirations I recall are classic – many kids have expressed their desire to be a veterinarian. I was among them. Kids love animals, and animal doctoring seems like a really great way to be spending more time with animals. A little youthful misanthropy might send some kids running in the direction of animal companionship, and I recall being really obsessed with big cats as a wee lass. But just like most kids with this dream, I got told really early on about that thing that you have to do as a vet. I don’t think I need to tell you what it is. So that dream was a non-starter.

When I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark, that inspired a passion for archaeology and/or movie directing that didn’t last nearly as long as my crush on Harrison Ford. I seem to also recall brief youthful flirtations with fashion design as a career. The results of that were not very… pretty. And it’s probably somewhat sad that I have proof of that. I think my favorite part of this is the hamster? rat? and the kneecaps. And I can’t really tell what I improved about this poor girl’s appearance. So, fashion design was off the table.

Not until I was a little older did I finally land on the thing that lasted me through most of my teen years and in fact right up until I realized we couldn’t afford my first choice college, was a desire to participate in some vague way in international relations. I cringe to admit, but this had its source in a crush too. I so loved Crowded House that I researched their homeland – New Zealand. I decided that a good career to allow me to go there would be ambassador. Makes sense? OK, maybe not. I was not good with details. I did write the ambassador of New Zealand at the time a letter, but possibly due to the clear threat I posed as a competitor, that person never responded. And Virginia Tech didn’t exactly have an International Relations program the way American University did.

Like a lot of folks I know, I’m still in the process of figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, I’ve just gotten better at figuring out the details of that. I have an explanation, by now rote, to offer when people ask me why I chose nursing school. It involves talking about my abandoned desire to be a social worker, and I do the hand gesture that shows the decline from cost of MSW to potential income as a social worker, and the incline that goes from the cost of an AA in nursing to the (hopeful) potential income of a nurse. But that’s not close to the whole reason.

It was during college that I first knew I wanted to do something that helps people. I think my capacity for empathy & compassion got a dose of steroids when I experienced acute clinical depression during those years. It was at my second job out of college that I learned that I liked, to some extent, to be a problem solver, and work in an atmosphere that was more immediate. I still mark that tech support job as one of the most satisfying I ever had. It was a few years after that that I began to understand that my little fears – of needles, of gross stuff – were pretty surmountable, conquerable psychologically. I need to have my hands on a problem, I need that problem to be one not of commerce but of humanity, and I want to feel daily like I might have accomplished something.

At this point I’ve done a lot of research – I read a ton of nursing blogs. I talk to every nurse I meet, and seek out nurses whereever I can. I’ve read a bunch of the “One L” books of the nursing world. Nothing can truly prepare me for being present in the first moments of clinicals, the first time I do a procedure, whatever is coming my way, but unlike my other dreams I think for this one I’ve laid some foundations that might lead to, you know, fulfillment.

11 Responses to “What I Wanted to Be”

  1. 1 Meganon 01 Nov 2009 at 3:57 pm

    If nursing turns out to not be your thing, you might want to take a look at your drawing again. So people fashion may not be the way to go, but you greatly improved the fashion of the cat and the rodent. Pet fashion could be your calling. 😉


    Kim Reply:

    I did dress up the poor dogs quite a bit as a kid.


  2. 2 … in a Bottle » Blog Archive » Recap of 10th Living Out Loud project: When I grow upon 01 Nov 2009 at 4:31 pm

    […] What I Wanted to Be I would have never guessed that Kim would one day be a nurse if you had asked me 15 years ago. And […]

  3. 3 Ben Howardon 01 Nov 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I wish you the best of luck as you embark on this path.

    I’m really curious to see how your tattoos are going to help or hinder you. I mean no offense by that. I’m just super curious how they will be received by your future patients. I’m sure some will have an instant connection with you over them and others will be put off by them.

    That will be an interesting story to hear as you go through school and enter the career field. Best of luck to you!


    Kim Reply:

    I am more worried about Hospital Administration and managers in my future career than patients! I was watching one twitter nurse manager talking about how her hospital was instituting a dress code that requires cover up. We shall see…

    Thank you! I am very excited!


  4. 4 Mariaon 02 Nov 2009 at 8:21 am

    When I was younger, I wanted to be a paleontologist (what kid doesn’t like dinosaurs?), a scientist, or a pizza-delivery person. Hey, I was being realistic.

    I ended up making it halfway to scientist and it’s pretty nice, so I guess it worked out for me? And was the best paying of all those options.


    Kim Reply:

    Maybe if I’d been more realistic as a kid I’d have gone down a different path? I never was though. :)

    I didn’t mention my current job because while it’s a nice place to work and there are countless comfortable things about it, I don’t love the work the way I feel I want to. I just need to come home every day and feel like I did something and I haven’t felt that since I was closing support tickets.


    Maria Reply:

    That feeling is important. Progress at my workplace is slow and roughly measured in papers published, but it seems to be enough to sustain me. My mild but pervasive misanthropy helps too, I’m sure. :)


  5. 5 Beckion 02 Nov 2009 at 10:14 am

    The only thing I really remember wanting to be early on was a contortionist.

    Then after I started taking harp lessons, it was harpist. I remember not really wanting to try too many things, so I didn’t have too many ideas for career paths.


  6. 6 karalon 04 Nov 2009 at 8:10 am

    i’m glad to hear that you’ve come closer to being what you want to “be” when you grow up. i always enjoy reading your blogs!


    Kim Reply:

    Thank you!


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