In a recent post, I announced the big news that I was returning to school to seek my associate’s degree in nursing. Many of you were probably thinking hooray for you with your eyes rolled to the back of your head because let’s be real, everybody is in school for something. The lady that works in the cubicle next to you is in college, the old man that asked you to get cereal from the top shelf is in college, and the kid that forgot to put the pickles on your burger is in college. I’m not special, I know that. But I also know that it has taken practically a miracle to get me back in school. In this two-part post, I’m going to share why I stopped attending college and why I am going back.
Rewind to 2013, one of the worst years of my life.
In the beginning of 2013, I was halfway through my nursing program to become a Licensed Vocation Nurse (also called Licensed Practical Nurse in most states). It was the spring semester so the ball was definitely rolling already. Nursing school was grueling, so much harder in comparison to high school. We had class or clinical all day 5 days a week, numerous tests weekly, there was a brand-new professor who was quiet and apprehensive, and the classroom was made of 95% women. Fun. By March or April, I was DONE. Done with the stress, done with the work, and done with the drama. Done with having to play nice, done with not being in control of my schedule, and done with the constant exhaustion and emotional rollercoasters. Nursing school is not for the weak, and an accelerated program is even worse.
I loved what I was learning, though. I loved being able to understand the human body and grasp how I could help others. The conditions and diseases I was learning about interested me and made me want to learn as much as I could. Many of my classmates would skip out on reading the textbook since we had so many pages assigned to us, but I never did. I genuinely enjoyed seeing how the pieces to the puzzle came together. It mystified me and piqued my interest to know there is a valid reason why our bodies act and respond certain ways. Science had finally become fun for me. Clinical was even better. Going out into the field, so to speak, made everything real. All of the pages of our textbooks came to life before our very faces; all the conditions we had spent hours learning about were sitting in hospital beds waiting for us. It was amazing finally being able to put our nursing knowledge to practice. Yes, there were crazy deadlines and important exams involved, but I still loved the knowledge that was being served to me.
I remember feeling relieved that the last semester of nursing school was 80% clinical work. There was so much drama going on that I found myself constantly frustrated and distracted in class. Being able to spend most of the semester working in the hospital was a chance to relax a little. I was getting all of my work done (in fact I graduated third in my class), yet the whole college environment exhausted me and annoyed me beyond belief. After I graduated and passed my nursing board exam, I was satisfied. I was proud of how far I came and I was happy I proved to be stronger than the many who couldn’t take it. I had done it, but I never wanted to do it again. I was a nurse, and that’s all I wanted. Who cared about titles and degrees?
Though I wanted (with all of my heart) to continue my education and become a registered nurse, the thought of putting myself through more stress and drama was as unattractive as drinking sour milk on a hot day. The thought was repulsive and sickening and I was not ready for all of that again. I took my certification and called it a day because I was tired, stressed, and emotionally DONE. Four and a half years later, as I think about that decision, half of me feels like I wouldn’t have been able to make it through another couple of years of college with that mentality. The other half of me is like Why in the world did you take a “break”??? I would have been finished! I guess I won’t ever know what would’ve happened if I had continued school. But I do know that these past four years of nursing have taught me countless lessons and gave me so much experience. It’s hard to regret that.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Completing nursing school is mine. Leave your answer down below!