When I was seven years old, I decided I wanted to be a nurse. Not just a nurse, a nurse for old people. I was the crazy 10-year-old that not only could spell the word geriatric, I knew what it meant too. As a child, I used to unbend paperclips and poke stuffed animals and dolls, pretending I was giving them shots.
Since I was seven, there were only two moments when I doubted my decision. Both were important, but I’m only going to mention one. It was when I was about nine or ten. My dad took us to see a high school performance of Oliver! During intermission, my little sister (only two at that time) fell and split her chin open. We had to rush to the hospital where my other sisters and I waited in the waiting room for what felt like hours. As I sat there, all I felt was fear. I saw the blood gushing from my sister’s chin and I was terrified.
I realized I couldn’t be a nurse if I was afraid of blood, and so I put away many of my medical toys, thinking that I couldn’t achieve my dream. My fear was in the way.
Thankfully, as I’ve now realized years later, it wasn’t the blood that scared me. It was the uncertainty and the inability to do anything to help. I wanted to be a nurse because I wanted to help the elderly. Not knowing what to do in that situation (even though I was only ten) made me doubt my abilities as a future nurse.
Obviously, I overcame that doubt. I’m currently a BSN working at my dream job – in a nursing home. I can’t count the number of times people have asked, “Why don’t you do something more with your degree?” I’ve been told that I’ve thrown my education away and that I’m wasting my time as a floor nurse. With a BSN, I could be management, work in prestigious hospitals. I’m encouraged to continue on my education and become a nurse practitioner.
But I don’t. I’m a floor nurse at a nursing home. I’m the one who gets to see everyone’s hemorrhoids, wake them up late at night when they’d rather be asleep. I’m the one who gets yelled at by both patients and doctors. I act as the middle man. I deal with death on almost a daily basis, helping others learn to prepare for it or deal with it after it occurs. I’m expected to work nights, weekends and holidays, 12-hour shifts. When someone has an infectious disease, I still go in to provide their care.
And I love it.
Not a single shift goes by that I don’t go home, exhausted and content.
Because I still remember why I became a nurse. That dream as a seven-year-old girl wasn’t about the money, prestige or anything else. I wanted to be a nurse because I wanted to ease the pain and loneliness of the elderly. I wanted to be the one they called when they needed help. I wanted to be able to make a difference in their lives, especially so near the end. And so, no matter what others think, I keep working, keeping perspective on what really matters.
Having dreams and goals is important, but so is remembering why we wanted them in the first place. Every dream needs a little perspective.