Two Months

Two Months

A few of the things I wish I was told before starting college.

This is not your usual article about awful dining hall food is or the cute guy in your Math class. I'm a Freshman at the University of Maine at Farmington, and in the past two months, I've learned more about love, happiness, and self-care then I have in the first eighteen years of my life. Since school has started my world has been built up and fallen around me at least three times, and we just got over midterms week. One month before moving into my dorm, I had a plan. A grand and master plan that would make everyone around me happy. I was going to live on campus during the week. On the weekend, I was going to go home to work, see my boyfriend, and family. That's a lot to do in two days. That's the thing about growing up without stability, is you somehow learn to adapt and make it for yourself––and only count on yourself.

Labor Day weekend, the first real weekend of my college life I had an emergency appendectomy. This definitely changed my plans. Not working the weekend of moving in, the weekend I got my appendix out, and two weeks after while recovering buried me financially. I felt absolutely helpless the first few days after surgery. I couldn't get my self out of bed alone, and the painkillers they gave me made me sick. My boyfriend at the time literally had to escort me around to help me, which I am extremely grateful. During this mess, I still fought with my family. My "adopted", but not really adopted, family. At the end of my Junior Year in high school, they had taken me in because I was in a very mentally abusive and toxic living situation. After being so close to them, when college came around I feel like the tension rose, and bad things started to happen. In other words, I moved in with my boyfriend of almost a year. I quit my job due to conflict with my family and coworkers, and I wanted to get the hell out of the area. I got a new job, came home to my boyfriend's house over the weekend. So far so good, so I thought.

A few weeks later, things started to go downhill with my boyfriend. We started fighting more, we saw each other less. I didn't want to go "home". My home was my space, my home was in Purington with my friends. In my dorm, where I had control over something. It felt more like a father and daughter relationship then dating. I was always out with my friends, and I felt nervous when the phone rang. I wasn't doing anything wrong. I wasn't partying, or fooling around with other guys, I felt guilty because I began to find out who I was outside of being his girlfriend. I began to discover my own values and likes and dislikes. It sounds absolutely crazy, but you don't ever find the value of yourself until being yourself is your only job. I began to make more and more memories that didn't include him, and it killed me every day. It began to wear on our relationship. Only being an hour away, we felt years apart. Which we were, three to be exact. Growing up I was always told older men were the way to go because they knew what they wanted. That was the problem. He knew what he wanted. He knew he wanted a family and marriage, and he wanted those things sooner then I did. I wanted to be in the DJ booth with my friends watching everyone play pool and play board games, while he wanted me home. Which I understand now that I've taken a step back. Relationships are supposed to be about give and take, and I realize now that he had more to give then I did. It wasn't fair, and we finally let go. There were things I knew I wanted to do in my life and I wasn't sure I could do those things while being with him. Like studying abroad, in maybe even begin to build my life in Farmington.

Since then I've come even more attached to my friends. My friends on campus are absolutely amazing, and some of the best people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. We're a big group, hence the reasons we get noise complaints when we all come together to gossip, or one of the boys talk to a cute girl at the Landing. We support each other. During this mess of the past two months, I don't know where I would be without them. That's one of the funny things, is that I've only known them two months. Two months, and I feel like I've known them for years. It only took two months of McDonalds and Walmart trips, two months of late night walks, and car rides smoking 99 cent cigars. Two months of movie nights, homework sessions, and watching the boys play NBA. I wouldn't change these two months for anything.

College has been one of the most stressful things I've ever experienced between, finances, family, and relationships. Though as we grow, learn and adapt to find out who we are in relevance to who we've been, the ride becomes more interesting. We learn how to love ourselves because of this new fascination of who we were two months ago, and who we will we be in another two months. I'm anxious for what the next three years will bring.

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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.


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.


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...


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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