I must start this blog somewhere, and that somewhere should probably be a description of how I have come to this place. I will warn you now; I have a somewhat eclectic writing style. Read on at your own risk. You may come to a stream of consciousness. As I recently wrote to a friend, when this happens, one often gets a bit muddy.
The last couple of years have been particularly frustrating. Employment prospects not so helpful, many things going on in the personal realm… Really an extension of my pattern of existence for way too long. Going back to school had been suggested from time to time, but I largely dismissed such suggestions. When you are living week to week constantly, where do you find the time and money? There were a couple of times in my life when I could have probably gone back to school under more workable circumstances, but my prior experiences with formal schooling, combined with too great a focus on the complication of life at any given moment, always seemed to argue against it.
I can’t put my finger on the moment, that moment when my thinking changed, but about two years ago, with a bit of prodding, it did begin to change. There was a moment when I finally began to really look back at the picture of my life and saw it for what is was. The old saying is “failing to see the forest for the trees,” right? I realized just how much I had focused on trees and ignored the forest entirely. So wrapped up in all the drama and difficulty right in front of me that I could not really see more than three feet past my nose, metaphorically speaking. I began to really consider the implication that the pattern of what had been, would be the pattern of what would be. Each new year’s, we flirt with resolutions and perhaps raise a glass to the idea that the new year will be better than the last. I began to finally come to grips with the fact that the next year would be just like the last without a significant change. Not only that, but the next twenty years would likely be the same as well. There came a moment when I stopped trying to ignore the implications of that and simply acknowledged that sobering reality.
At that point it all crashed down on me. I could close my eyes and see what it would be like twenty years from now, it was very much the same, and it was not a good thing. It started right there. I considered the matter and began to change how I thought about what I was doing. A lifetime of pattern and habit is difficult to change. Sometimes it happens in small ways that one does not even notice. Ways that, to an outside person, would not even seem like a change at all.
It started with the determination that the only way to significantly break the chain and move in a positive, long term direction, was to return to school. I finally accepted the prodding of those around me. I started with the semi-short term. A change, but not a big one. What path could I take that would increase my career opportunities in the shortest amount of time, that would also be something that I would enjoy and be suited for? While it seemed like it would still take too long, nursing seemed to be the best compromise. I volunteered for several years with a search and rescue organization. Serving as a medic was already in my background. My mother and grandmother were nurses. I have often been told that nursing is a career that would suit me well, particularly in an age where nursing has become a much more technical profession, bearing greater responsibilities.
So the search began for a Nursing program that was as quick and efficient as possible. Of what was out there, ECPI seemed to be the first stop. ECPI is one of those little trade schools that promise to teach you a particular subject and put you to work as fast as possible. They certainly seemed to have a well-developed financial aid office that was quite quick to get you set up with over 30,000 dollars in loans in no time flat. To save you the anxiety as you read this, no I did not go there. The part of me that just wants to “get it over with,” that keeps bumping into trees without noticing the forest around me, that part did try to talk me into it. The program was fairly quick and their classrooms seemed fairly well equipped. However, the specter of signing a financial document committing me to over 30,000 in debt with one pen stroke caused me to take another hard look at what I thought I was trying to accomplish.
I thought that, if I went down this road, nursing was essentially the end of the line academically speaking. I would get an RN, but would have a lot of debt and may have little in the way of transferable credits if I wanted to pursue a more advanced degree in nursing. That and the debt would preclude doing anything about an advanced degree anytime soon. I was starting to not like the idea so much. The idea of continuing on to an advanced degree had already begun to grab a hold of me. I was starting to recognize that this was not simply about going back to school just long enough to gain a better immediate career prospect, it was also about doing what I could have done so many years ago, earn an actual, legitimate college degree.
My thinking on the matter was quickly morphing beyond a career “quick fix.” This begged the question, what should I really do here? If not a “quick fix,” what do I really want to achieve?