3 most important lessons I learned in 2017

3 most important lessons I learned in 2017

Lessons coming from a rough year
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It's officially 2018. And, it feels like the beginning of 2017 started a century ago. However, simultaneously, 2017 rushed by in the blink of an eye. As the holiday season is coming to an end, I am able to relax, clear my head, and collect my thoughts on everything 2017 brought. From starting another semester of college to devastating heartbreaks to finding myself and renewing spirits, 2017 never failed to keep life interesting It was as if I was on a rollercoaster with the highest drops, most dramatic twists, and exhilarating, gut-wrenching speeds. Nevertheless, I have grown more spiritually and emotionally in 2017 than I have during any other year, and I only hope to continue to improve in the years to come. Undoubtedly, the lessons I've learned in 2017 will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I am positive that God will remind me in the future of these teachings. I hope to communicate the three vital lessons I learned in 2017 and how I will proceed into the new year with a different perspective on life. It is my intention that you may relate to these lessons and learn from your own experiences to better yourself and draw closer to Christ.

1. Find the positive in every situation. And I mean every. single. situation.

Although God blessed me with some of the best memories and friendships of my life during 2017, He also brought me through some turbulent moments as well. Within one year my heart had been broken, my faith in Christ was distant and hazy, and my academic and professional career felt as if it was an all-wheel drive truck stuck in a mud ditch just pushing and pushing to get out but never making any progress. I questioned my career path and my goals for life after college. I didn’t know what I wanted and that reflected in my quality of work, as I turned in unedited papers, sloppy homework, and attempted to shortcut every single assignment, which is not my regular behavior. I barely tried, and the truth is…I just didn’t care about that area of my life anymore. My classes were difficult, and I just happened to get almost all the terrible professors my school has to offer. The frustration during this time in my life sent me into emotional breakdowns, where I doubted myself and God’s plans for me. It was hard, and I was giving up. While during last semester I was caught In a fog and didn’t realize the error of my ways, I look back on 2017 and find the positive lessons and outcomes of those difficult situations. All those strenuous classes and frustrating professors helped me learn that everything is not perfect, and I am not in control of what happens in my life. God is. Now, that I have found and learned from the positive product of my burdens, I am able to learn from them and progress forward with an upbeat attitude and a skip in my step. Now, that the fog has lifted around me, I can reflect on all the amazing blessings God gave me during 2017. So, stay positive and look on the bright side of the situation.

2. Live your life to the fullest

2017 consisted of a multitude of movie-like and Instagram worthy adventures: road trips with the windows rolled down, trecking through the mountains with fog at my feet and rain lightly drizzling over my skin, music festivals, and countless exhilarating activities with amazing people, experiencing some of the greatest laughs and memories. While the phrase “live your life to the fullest” may seem arbitrary and commonly said, the majority of people do not put the phrase into action. But, if you truly live your life to fullest, take risks, and be vulnerable your perspective on life with drastically shift. For many of us, including me, we struggle with enjoying the season of life we are currently in, always looking forward to the next stage. If you’re in high school, you look forward to college. If you’re in college, you look forward to being done with school. If you’re working, you look forward to retirement. This mindset creates anxiety and stress about the future, where we are not able to fully enjoy the moments directly in front of us. While planning for the future today is a sold tactic, we also need to make sure it doesn’t consume our lives to the point where we never take amazing adventures in the present. So, go out, be active, live in the moment, and create many memories!

3. Count your blessing and never take them from granted.

I have the bad habit of proclaiming “I hate my life” every time something goes wrong. However, in reality, God has given me such a blessed life, filled with caring family and friends, an amazing school, and countless opportunities. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the hardships 2017 brought, it was easier to focus on the bad that was surrounding my life rather than realize the amazing blessings God was sending to my life. Now that I am in a better mindset, I am able to fully appreciate the people around me and the opportunities ahead. So, my advice to you is to enjoy every moment of your life and be grateful for everything: good and bad. If you focus on the blessing in your life, you not only show the people around you that you care, but you are also able to gain a new, positive perspective on life. As Big Sean would say, “Look, I feel blessed. Blessings on blessings on blessings. Look at my life, that’s lessons on lessons on lessons.” Take Big Sean’s words to heart and learn from your blessing and have a spectacular 2018.

Cover Image Credit: Alli Kennedy Photography

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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The 7 Best Pieces Of Advice I Have Been Given About Life

Some of the best advice I have been given over the years...

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There isn't a central theme among these pieces of advice or sayings. They are all just random things I have been told over the course of my life–especially in the last week. I find these 7 to be particularly helpful in various situations, and try to keep them in mind when I am in over my head.

1. "Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself because there is nobody who is going to help you more than you."

You are the #1 person who can help your own case. No one knows you as you do, therefore no one will be able to help you more than you can help yourself. A lot of things are mental, so once you can convince yourself that you deserve something (whatever it may be) you can convince anyone. Another saying goes along with this, on the flip side: "No one can diminish you but yourself." You are in control of your own self-perception, and you are very much capable of being your own worst enemy.

2. "Stand behind your reputation because you can never get it back."

My mom sent this to me the other day. Be who you are, and do it proudly. Especially with meeting people for the first time, you can never have a second chance at a first impression. That being said, if people view you in a bad light, figure out why that is and fix it. You may not be able to change someones initial thoughts of you, but you can change the way they view you after that.

3. "The best things in life happen unexpectedly."

"Life is what happens when you're busy making plans," also goes along with this. Trying to plan out every little detail of your life is only going to lead to disappointment. Sometimes you find the best things/what you're looking for when you're not actually looking. Just go through the motions and things will work out the way they are supposed to.

4. "Be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how small."

It's important to celebrate the little things. Did you go to class today? Good for you. Did you decide to drink water instead of a soda? That's awesome. How are you going to work up to doing bigger and better things if you don't have anywhere to start?

5. "Whatever you're stressing about now probably won't matter in five years."

As someone who is often eaten away by their own worry and anxiety, this is a mantra that I try to constantly remind myself. While it may seem like a big deal now, you need to keep in mind the bigger picture. Will it matter in 5 hours? 5 days? 5 months? And so on. If the answer is no to ANY of these questions, it's probably not worth beating yourself up over.

6. "Stop being the 'go to' person for someone you can't go to."

Someone tweeted that their pastor said this to them and the tweet went viral. A friend of mine sent it to me, and it really made me think. Something I have struggled with over the years is making excuses for people who don't show up for me when I am constantly there for them. This is a helpful reminder that if they aren't contributing to you and your life, you shouldn't have to bend over backward to help them out and be in their lives.

7. "Two wrongs don't make a right."

While this is often a saying that parents use on their young children, it is applicable to pretty much any stage of life. My parents, especially my dad, have constantly said this, whether it was in reference to fighting with my siblings or dealing with people at school. Even as a 20-year-old, I find myself saying this when I hear about arguments and problems people are having. Everyone wants to get even, to best those who hurt them. While it's important to stick up for yourself, it is also important to be the bigger person and not stoop to their level (and whatever else your parents told you in these situations).

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