Bigs N' Littles

Bigs N' Littles

The reasons why getting a big in my sorority was so important to me.
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I have always been the big sister. At age five, my first little sister, Vivian, was born. I have always tried to be a mentor to her and give her advice even when she doesn't always want it. 4 years ago, I was blessed with a second sister, Jeannie. With a 15 year age difference, my relationship with my youngest sister is very different. I am more of an aunt figure to her. However, I know her little eyes see all of my actions and her little ears hear everything I say. I know she looks up to me and views me as one of her main role models.

Even though there are perks to being the oldest, it has been an immense responsibility to be the first child. I know that I have a very important role as I set an example of the process of developing as a girl for my sisters.

Entering college, I no longer had my sisters with me every day. However, I gained 150 new sisters when I joined my sorority, Kappa Delta.

Sororities have their stereotypes and trust me, I believed them before college. What I never realized was that I was about to gain the largest support system I could ever imagine and a family away from home.

Starting a new life, in a new place, with new people is daunting. I didn't know anything about this city and didn't have much of any friends yet.

The first girl I met in Kappa Delta was Claire Sekus. She was a sophomore and I immediately looked up to her. We naturally connected from the start. We got along so well and I felt special knowing she wanted to be my friend.

Within a few months of spending time with her and growing closer to her, it was no surprise that she was the one who became my big.

This has been one of the most special connections I have made with a friend that is unlike any other. Claire became the big sister I never received.

Here are the reasons that having a big changed my college experience for the better:

An introduction to college life:

Whether it be finding the best restaurants, telling me which professors to take, or introducing me to new friends, Claire facilitated my transition to college life far more simple and fun.

Someone to look up to:

As I mentioned before, I have always had to be a mentor and never had an older girl figure to look up to. She might not know it, but watching her has allowed me to see the kind of person I want to become while I am transitioning into adulthood.

They are there for you unconditionally:

Like an actual sister, Claire has been there for me whenever I have needed it. For example, one time I went to the mail services and had 3 large, heavy packages that I couldn't possibly fit on my bike or carry back to my dorm myself. I called my big and within 5 minutes, she was there with her car, loading my packages and driving me home.

Warnings and Advice:

There are many dangers and bad environments one can get into in college. Claire's advice and warnings still help guide me to the safe streets, people, as well as influences I am surrounded by on a daily basis.

A friend for life:

One of the coolest things about and Big, Little relationship is that it doesn't end. Claire will always be my big. She will always be a person who will go on spontaneous road trips with me and I can count on being there when I need someone.

To conclude my sappy story...

For 19 years, I never experienced the feeling of having a big sister. It has been infinitely rewarding to be a big sister to my two little ones at home. However, meeting Claire gave me a relationship I never knew I would have.

College life is different. I have been blessed with that one of these differences is the fact that I gained a role model and best friend that I consider a real part of my family. We were sisters by chance, but big and little by choice. I truly believe God has provided me with someone who I chose and who also chose me. He provided me a person I can laugh with, dance with, and even cry with when needed. Claire is half of my soul and half of my heart. Without my big, I would most definitely fall apart.

Cover Image Credit: Audrey Hall

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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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