One of the hardest parts about working my evening shift schedule is the fact that I can’t call and talk to my mom whenever I want. Yes, I’m twenty-five years old and want to talk to my mom on a daily basis. It was nice when I first move here because my first month was spent on day shift (evening chats!) and by the time I switched to evenings, my mom (the elementary school art teacher) was on summer break…I could call whenever I wanted! I try to catch her during her lunch break now, but any longer chats are reserved for weekends or days off. Therefore, when I do have a random day off work, I’ve been known to call my mom two-three times throughout the day. I had already called my mom three times yesterday when I had a realization on my way to Princeton…so I called her one more time.
It’s no secret that I’m not really happy right now. I don’t like my job (and being my first and only job in nursing, it makes me question my career choice), I don’t really like where I live (middle of nowhere…I really wanted to be in a big city), I don’t know many people around here (I’m shy + work odd hours…it’s probably just excuses), and I can’t even run right now (biking just isn’t the same). All of these are a bit difficult to contend with, but the main thing I realized on my drive to visit the Rocket Scientist was this:
For the first time in my life, I am not actively working towards a goal.
In high school, I was busy studying, running, playing in the band…to get into college. Once in college, I wanted to go to medical school, so I was working hard at that and I had classes. Once I realized I didn’t want to be a doctor, I put my effort into figuring out what else I wanted to do with my life…and I still had classes with immediate goals in front of me. After graduating from Maryland, I had some time off but knew I was headed back to nursing school. I spent all of 2008 in nursing school with little breathing room (that’s what you get for cramming two years into one!), and then post-nursing school was spent job hunting. Like crazy. My goal was getting a job. Now I have that job, and I don’t have any immediate goals made for me.
If I stayed where I am for the rest of my life (as some of the nurses at my hospital have!), it wouldn’t be totally crazy. After all, I went to college (twice!), got a well-paying, supposedly rewarding (some days…not so much) job, and I could get married, have kids, and live the American dream. (Okay, that was a bit over the top.) Anyway, the point is that I no longer have those straightforward goals of midterms, projects, and applying for the next step in life. For me, this is very disorienting because I feel like I have no direction. I’m obviously not going to stay at this job forever, but I don’t really know where to go from here. I keep looking at graduate programs (in a wide variety of topics) because it seems like the next step. The Rocket Scientist and all his grad school friends are still living the academic life (go PhD programs!), and my college roommate just went back to grad school for a PhD as well. Not saying that’s what I need/want to do, but the academic life is definitely different than the “real world.” Schedules are ruled by semesters and exams, while I don’t even know if I’ll be working on Christmas or not.
But that’s not the point. The point is that I feel lost because I don’t feel like I have goals right now, which is such a foreign feeling. It’s never really been up to me to dictate my goals (outside of the larger “I’m going to nursing school” plan, etc), and this feeling of being stagnant and lost may contribute to my current unhappiness. I called my mom to explain this to her, and she definitely agreed. The working world is full of different goals than the school world. For now, my goal may be to plan a vacation, make a new cupcake recipe every week, or learn a new hobby. These are definitely different goals than learning the steps of the Krebs Cycle or creating a care plan for my patient at the hospital. (Although I’m immensely glad that I no longer have to make care plans!) My mom reminded me that I have a well paying job, and although I tend to get stuck upon the fact that I have loans to pay back, I have money to do things I want to do, like travel or take cooking classes or learn to paint or whatever my little heart desires.
In the end, work is work. Although it’s a big part of my life, at the end of the day, I go to work and get a paycheck. That sounds terrible because I feel as though nurses are expected to say that they were called to nursing and care and would help people despite the paycheck…but let’s be serious. Nursing is way too stressful for me to say anything like that. The point is that I need to find something else to make me happy. Whether that’s planning a trip to Europe for next summer, working part time at a bakery, or learning to teach group exercise classes (all things I’ve thought about doing!), I need to pick something and do it instead of dwelling on how much I don’t like my job or how I think other people are happier than me.
Easier said than done.
That was a bit long winded, but thanks to those who stuck through it. Here are some questions for my readers!
For those who have graduated and are working, did you feel anything like this? I can’t possibly be the only one who is (has) experience(d) this.
What goals do you have for yourself? Are you planning a wedding? Taking a dance class? Joining a flag football team? Let me hear them!