Dear High School Seniors, Where Do I Begin?

Dear High School Seniors, Where Do I Begin?

Life has a funny way of working out just when you start to believe it never will.
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Dear high school seniors...

School is starting back, and you know what that means. It means you only have one semester left in high school. Some of you are thrilled, some of you are terrified, but most of you are probably somewhere in between. I understand how you feel because I was there only two short years ago.

Believe me, it goes by so much faster than you think it will. Enjoy your final moments with your teachers. They really do care about you. Say thank you to your custodians and cafeteria workers. Smile at your principal as you walk by them in the hallway. These are days you won't get back, so take advantage of them.

Dear high school seniors...

I know you're worried about life after graduation. If you're going to college, you're worried about balancing scholarship applications with keeping your grades up to still qualify for those scholarships at the end of the year. You're trying to decide which school you want to attend, and you're figuring out what you're going to study after high school.

If you're going straight to work, you're worried about finding a job that will support you in your life. If you're going into the military, you're worried about others worrying about you. You want to do what's best for you and your country, but you hate that others will stay up at night because they won't always know how you're doing. I know every single one of you is worried about what the future will hold, but I promise you, it'll work out. It always does.

Dear high school seniors...

There will be friends you'll lose touch with after graduation. That's part of growing up. But there is also nothing wrong with staying friends with people you graduated with. Hometown friends share a common bond with you that college friends never will. Know this - the friends who are meant to be in your life after graduation will be in your life after graduation.

That might be none, or that might be twenty. No matter what happens though, don't abandon your hometown friends just because "that's what everyone does". If you've got good high school friends, keep them as best you can. If people can meet their spouse in high school, there is no reason you can't also meet lifelong friends there.

Dear high school seniors...

I wish you could know your college best friends now. I wish you could meet them and get a head start on your friendship. I wish you could see the memories you'll make, and hear the inside jokes you'll soon have. I wish you could know that even if you don't have very many friends at the moment, there are people out there who will become your best friends.

You'll wonder how you went through high school without these people, and you'll be so glad God put them in your life. College best friends become your family and support system. Once you find these people, hang on to them.

Dear high school seniors...

Take chances in every aspect of your life. You regret what you didn't do, not what you did do. So tell that boy you like him. Ask that girl to prom. Apply for the school you don't think you have any chance of getting into. If you don't, you'll always wonder "what if?" and that is a terrible feeling.

Dear high school seniors...

You're worried about all of this, and so much more. But let me tell you this one simple truth: things work themselves out. You'll go to a school you're meant to go to. You'll find a job that works for you. Your high school friends will stay in your life if they're meant to be there.

The people who will become your college best friends will find their way into your life. The chances you take will become learning experiences, and you'll learn so much more about yourself and your world by taking these chances. So dear high school seniors...enjoy this last semester. Make the most of it. And remember this - you will be okay.

Cover Image Credit: Juan Ramos

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Why Nursing School Friends Are So Vital

Pun intended.

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When I started nursing school, I knew it would be difficult. I wasn't naive. I heard the stories. I knew what I was getting into…to a certain degree.

It was everything I thought it would be and more. The highs were higher and the lows were lower. The thing you realize quickly in nursing is that it's not something you can achieve on your own. You have to have a support system. It's how you survive. It can feel like you're on your own because you have to perform the skills and make the grades, but really, there are so many friends standing behind you pushing you through.

I've seen it over and over again. I've been a part of it, witnessed it and had help myself. The truth is, even the most intelligent students need help in some sort of way. It might be hard to realize it when you're so inwardly focused, but when you look around you, everyone is walking the same path. They just have different strengths and weaknesses. It's an incredible thing when others use their personal strengths to offset your weaknesses. Nursing friends see in you what you don't see in yourself. Nursing friends share your passions, sleepless nights, early mornings, stress, panic attacks, victories, and failures. Nursing friends are your own personal cheerleaders.

It's no secret that we deal with some pretty gross stuff. Who else can you count on when you're walking down the unit trying to find an extra pair of hands to help you change the clothes of a morbidly obese patient who's covered from shoulders to ankles in their stool? Your nursing buds.

What about when your patient goes into v-fib (ventricular fibrillation), and you need someone to relief on chest compressions? Your rock star nurse friends are there to lend a hand or two.

Or what about when you are scrubbing into a C-section for the first time and you're kind of, sort of, secretly concerned you might get queasy or faint? Your nursing squad will remind you how tough you are. They'll assist you as quickly as possible and when you are finished washing your hands a thousand times, they'll make you laugh or smile. They'll always be there to help you with dignity, support, love, and encouragement.

Your nursing friends know which supply closet you go hide in when you are about to lose it or when class is so long it's giving you a headache so they pass you some Tylenol. Nursing friends are the backbone of your nursing school experience. I always love it that whenever I need hand sanitizer, Tylenol/Advil/Motrin or even a Band-Aid, someone always has it.

Even if you don't talk every day, or you take different class times, there is always someone waving hello or asking how you're holding up. You are all so different, but at the same time, you feel like you're surrounded by so many who are just like you. They care as much as you do. They love as much as you do. And the best part? They just love you. Even on your worst days. There will be times when you trip up on the easy stuff you know that you know, but they'll be there with open arms telling you about when they were in the same place. They are the ones who “fight in the trenches" with you. They'll carry you when you can't keep going, and you'll do the same. No woman or man left behind.

Nursing friends are incredible lifelong blessings. So, remember to thank them every once in a while. Keep cheering each other on, keep fighting together and keep reminding each other that the end goal is closer than it seems.

Cover Image Credit: Maddy Cagle

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The Truth About Responsibility

Part three of a five-part series on leadership.

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In this five-part series, I'm not going to give you a definition of leadership. I'm not even going to try to come up with one on my own, because your idea of leadership is exactly that, YOURS. My only hope is that my ideas can help you better understand your idea of leadership.

By now, you may have noticed that these articles are structured in a specific way. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, go check out the first two articles in this five-part series. I tell you why a respective trait, this week that trait is responsibility, is so much more than its definition. Then go on to explain why it's crucial for being a successful leader and leave you with something to ponder.

However, now and in the future, I am going to add a general example to help solidify my point and allow you to see the full picture. These examples are for your use. Interject characters or people you know into the scenarios to better illustrate it for yourself. Maybe you've been in one of these situations, I would love to hear about it.

Part 3: What is responsibility? And what does it have to do with leadership?

Responsibility is similar to leadership in that everyone you ask will probably explain it with a story rather than a definition. This makes sense because it is just too broad to be accurately defined in one statement. I could probably come up with some ideas for stories to illustrate my point about responsibility, but I don't think that would be helpful to you.

Google would tell you that responsibility is "the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something". I actually like this definition! But to better illustrate my point, try this little thought experiment. Think back to the last time you had "a duty to deal with something".

What was that something? Who charged you with that duty? Was it really yours to deal with?

Too often we think of responsibility in mundane terms. Some may say that responsibility is shown by getting an assignment done or showing up to an important meeting on time. I would generally agree that doing these mundane activities show responsibility, but only in a mundane sense. The completion of a duty that someone else charges you with is just too simple.

Think about responsibility. It is so much more than just getting things done. It is so much bigger than an assignment or a meeting.

Responsibility is a mentality. Responsibility is a way of life.

You should really be thinking about responsibility as an ideal which you strive for, not a box that you check. Welp, I was responsible today! I made all of my meetings, check! I finished all of my work, check! Guess I don't need to be responsible tomorrow!

See how well that works out.

Responsibility is about taking ownership of what you do, in all situations. Everything you say and everything you do. The things that you are proud of and those which make you feel ashamed. Each one of your successes, as well every single one of your failures and shortcomings. That last one isn't easy, I know.

Responsibility is also seeing things through to completion. If you start a project, you finish it. If you set a meeting, you make it there on time. If you say you will do something, you do it. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Responsibility is completing a duty which you charged yourself with, regardless of that duty.

But when you start thinking this way, day in and day out, responsibility becomes natural. It becomes the way of life you want it to be, ubiquitous and easy to see. This is when leadership comes into play.

Being more responsible in your everyday life will make you a better leader.

Regardless of the situation, responsibility will carry over. It will also spread. As more and more people see you taking ownership and seeing things through to completion, they will follow your example. Friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family will appreciate the fact that you actually care enough to do what you say you are going to do.

Leading by example, isn't that the best form of leadership?

Here is a scenario for you to view through your own eyes. You are part of a group which is charged with completing a project in a given amount of time. For simplicity, say your boss has appointed one person to be the "leader", charged with scheduling meetings and holding members accountable to the work they say they will do.

As time goes on, this "leader" is often late to meetings or doesn't show at all. This leader often forgets his duties and brings nothing of value to the meetings. This so-called leader is not being responsible, and the group is suffering. You are no closer to your goal then the day the group was formed.

This appointed leader is not showing leadership because he or she is not being responsible. Why should anyone else show up on time or complete what they said they were going to if the leader doesn't do the same? Change starts with you setting the example of responsibility.

Whether you are in the office, on the assembly line, or at home, being responsible will change you and those around you. It will make life better because it makes life easier. Just imagine how much better your life would be if every person who made a commitment to you, followed through on that commitment.

To end and to drive this point home, we will get a little meta. The next time someone breaks a promise or cancels a meeting, accept it for what it is: a lack of responsibility. Then, when it's your turn to keep a commitment, keep it. Don't be petty by saying "Well they did it to me, why can't I do it to them?". A cancellation for a cancellation makes the whole world uninformed.

Lead by example by taking ownership of your commitments and seeing them through to the end. People will respect your responsibility and return it in kind.

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