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.