I confess: I’ve always really liked school. I even tried teaching it once. I’ve collected a few degrees, and like I mentioned when I told you how I am always starting over, I often think of going back to school as a way to, well, start over. In 2007 I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology. After doing lots of what now seems like nothing, and an experiment with teaching (Teach for America is a topic for another post!), I went back to school in 2010, earning a master’s degree in cell and molecular biology in 2012. It is now 2014 (just in case you recently woke up from a coma) and I want to go to nursing school.
None of this information, taken alone, is problematic. (I know, I know, woe is me, I got a great education, right?) The sum of the parts, though, that has proven challenging. When I consider what I have already done and then consider what I’m thinking about doing, this is what swirls around in my head the most:
- Debt. I am still paying for those first two degrees, along with the credit card debt I acquired as a stupid teenager… and in my early 20s.
- Qualifications. Any prerequisite courses for nursing school that I took, and earned excellent grades in, I took as an undergraduate between 2003 and 2007. That puts most of them beyond a statute of limitations (meaning I have to take ’em again!). This also conveniently reminds me how old I am, which brings me to…
- Timing. Feeling like it is “too late” to “start over”. This is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that I will be 30 years old on February 6, 2015.
I have agonized over these points for so long now, I would be hard pressed to identify the first time I thought about earning a nursing degree. Chances are those prerequisites would still be valid if I’d made that move back then. In fact, if I’d sucked it up then, I would likely be a nurse already, and not writing this blog from my couch in my gym clothes. What happened between now and whenever I first ignored the things I wanted to do? Fear.
I have been so afraid of falling down, of taking a risk, of all the “what ifs”, that I’m not sure I ever even legitimately researched what earning a nursing degree would take, where to start, and how to pay for it. I landed in a puddle of excuses and nearly drowned in them. In fact, I probably nearly drowned in more ways than one (so much crying has happened in the past year of my life I’m surprised my boyfriend hasn’t had me committed). As it turns out, fear can take over even a smart, rational person’s thinking and eventually, make it feel as though you have no control over your very own life. I was feeling very much out of control.
Coming from a place of fear, it always seemed clear to me that I’d “screwed up” and wasted precious time making all kinds of choices that haven’t entirely fulfilled me. But after a moment of clarity, an odd hour or two of bravery, a lot of googling, more crying, and just the right amount of support and encouragement from my family and friends, I decided to dive in. Now that I’ve decided, it feels damn good. It suddenly feels like the winding path I’ve chosen has been precisely what it took to bring me to this place, this present, my right now. What I do with where I am is up to me. The control is mine again. And, as my beautiful and wise sister tells me:
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”
See you on the other side.