Finding Myself Again

Finding Myself Again

My story of overcoming a difficult time in life.
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Have you ever felt so lost that you think you'll never find yourself again?

Have you ever felt like a stranger in a room full of familiar faces?

Have you ever felt like you were just half awake, going through the motions?

I have felt that every day for the past four years. Only instead of getting better, it became worse with each passing day.

I started high school with a great group of friends and a feeling of confidence. Everyone said it was going to be the best years of my life, so I tried to live up to that motto. But slowly, I noticed those "friends" become distant as time went on, watching them slowly drift away and slip out of my grasp. No big deal, right? They're not worth it.

The following year, I found a new group of friends. Everything was great until I felt like something was missing. The group loved to get together outside of class and hang out, but never with me. Somehow, each time there was an event, my invitation wasn't extended. The whispers began, the conversations in hushed tones stopped when I walked in and all the stares were directed at me. Then, the dreaded words: "We're really sorry, but sometimes you need to tone it down."

"Sorry, but sometimes you're obnoxious."

"Can't you take the hint? You just don't really fit with our group."

It was a continuous cycle of being pushed to the side, being the third wheel, always being the one left out and never in the loop. I didn't go to semi-formal because those friends decided I wasn't worth their time anymore. I didn't go to homecoming because there was nobody to go with. Sure, I sat at a table full of classmates and managed to put on a smile. It was never real though. The laughter was always forced and the smiles were always half-hearted.

Slowly, I circled down this dark spiral of sadness. I was alone, so alone. Each school year resulted in the same situation, the same loneliness, and the same tears.

It's sad that I used to come home in tears almost every day. There was always something wrong: someone bothering me, relationships not working out. I let people walk all over me without a word in return. I was tossed to the side when guys were bored but I was happy. The only thing I knew how to do was hold it all in. My parents couldn't understand what was wrong.

"How can we fix this? What can we do? Can you wait it out? You're almost done."

There was nothing that could be done but to wait until graduation. I felt like I was half alive this entire time, just going through the motions and not feeling anything inside. The only people who were there for me were my parents.

My close friends seem to disappear into their own happy lives. It didn't seem right to kill their vibe with my constant problems, but it's not like they noticed something was wrong.

No really, I'm fine. Just tell me about the amazing senior year you've had with your friends, I'm happy to hear it. I swallowed painfully through the lump in my throat, still got up every morning and threw myself into my studies. That was the only focus I had: finishing my senior year strong.

Somewhere along those 4 years, I lost myself for the longest time. I counted down the days till graduation, the day I could finally leave the cage I was trapped in for so long. I had teachers who didn't do their jobs, friends who seemed to disappear when I needed them most and watched as my life collapsed around me. When I walked out of those doors for the last time, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was free.

When senior year came along, I knew I had to leave. I was sick and tired of waking up to the same place every day for 12 years. I wanted something new, something that would light the flame inside again and make me happy. So I found this little town called Athens and decided to call it home.

There was no feeling quite like moving to a new place with new people. I get to do what I love, make new friends and try new things. Everything felt so new, so vibrant, and so different from home. But I don't live in small town PA anymore. That girl you knew isn't me anymore. I felt what it was like to be happy again, to love my new life and my new friends.

Then I joined ασπ and found the sisters I never had. I found girls who run out to town on coffee dates with me in the dark of the night. They’re the type of friends who run around the streets of Athens and yell stupid stuff at you out of love because it’s funny. I remembered how it feels to have people who care and worry about you every day when you’re away.

Coming here was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it helped me find myself again. I came out of that dark hole I was trapped in and saw the beauty of life. It's a blessing to have best friends who put me in a chair at dinner, demand that I spill the details on my latest love interest and then ask when the wedding will happen. I’ve learned to smile, laugh and be cherished again, which is something I haven’t felt in so long.

So here’s to my new life.

Cover Image Credit: My own photo

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Not My Michigan

A Michigan student-athlete turned Registered Nurse on the Michigan Medicine contract negotiations in 2018.

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It's May 1st, 2016. I'm bright-eyed, eager, and graduating from the University of Michigan as a Nursing Student and Student-Athlete.

I am ready to take on the world the way that Michigan taught me how: fearlessly, compassionately, and wholeheartedly. I bleed blue. I know what it means to be a Wolverine and to represent the Michigan Difference in everything I do. I wear the block M on my School of Nursing scrubs and my Michigan Dance Team uniform well aware that it represents goodness, tradition, and excellence. I am determined. I am inspired. I am ready.

It's Monday, September 17th, 2018. What does Michigan mean to me now? I used to be so sure. Now, I simply don't know. So, what's the deal? How did my view on an institution become so indifferent in recent months?

I chose U of M to start my nursing career because it had the widely known reputation of putting its patients first, respecting its nurses, and providing the best care to patients in the state (5th in the country, to be exact). In my first year, as I was clumsily learning how to push patient stretchers, titrate intravenous vasopressors, and to communicate with the medical team, I proudly participated in our hospital's effort to achieve Magnet status.

When Nursing earned Magnet Status, an award given by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center and indicator of the strength and quality of Nursing at Michigan, I felt that same pride as I did in May of 2016.

I knew in my heart that I picked the best institution to develop my nursing practice and to give high quality, patient-centered care to anyone who walked, rolled, or was carried through the doors of Adult Emergency Services. The hospital's goals were aligned with mine and those around me. We put patients first, and more specifically, we put patients over profits.

I am lucky enough to work at a hospital that has been unionized for more than four decades. When I started working, the concept of a union was foreign to me. For those who may need a refresher, unions promote and protect the interests of all employees. They collectively bargain with employers to secure written agreements for employees regarding pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Collective bargaining agreements are legally enforceable contracts holding employers and employees to mutually agreed-to workplace rules and process to provide a fair and just workplace. The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council, an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association, has been working diligently since January to bargain with the University of Michigan to protect me, the 5,700 nurses who work within the institution, and our patients. I'd like to think they're the good guys in this story.

Here's where things get sticky: David Spahlinger, president of our prestigious U of M health system, has publicly stated that Michigan is "committed to maintaining current staffing levels," but will not make this commitment in writing. Common sense is reflected in the most high-quality research on the topic of nurse-patient ratios and its direct effect on patient care.

Appropriate staffing allows me and my coworkers to give the quality of care that I know we have the ability to provide. High staffing levels are associated with reduced mortality, falls, medication errors, ulcers, restraint use and infections. Unregulated staffing is a significant barrier to nurses' abilities to provide optimal patient care and prevents Nursing at Michigan from providing what we know to be the Michigan Difference in healthcare.

UMPNC held voting on a work stoppage for unfair labor practices last week. Out of 4,000 votes cast by nurses at the U, 94% authorized a work stoppage in protest of the University's unfair labor practices. No date is set, but our elected nurse bargaining team now has the authority to call for action.

Thank you to Katie Oppenheim, who chairs our union, for reiterating in an article to the Detroit Free Press that a work stoppage is not our goal. "Our goal is a fair agreement which respects nurses and guarantees safe staffing. The university can remedy this situation immediately by stopping their unfair labor practices and bargaining in good faith."

I am proud to be a nurse and I hope that our efforts to keep Michigan a patients-over-profits institution are recognized at the community, state, and national level. Anne McGinity, David Spahlinger, and those who have the power to make Michigan the magical place I once thought it was, make like Nike and just do it. For the love of patients, nurses, and our great University. I know we are better than this.

(Stay Tuned, folks).

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To The Hippie Who Taught Me What True Friendship Is

"Thank you for always playing the devil's advocate when there's a situation that I need help with. You have taught me what it is like to see a situation from several points of views."

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Dear my tie-dye wearing, peace-loving, hippie:

In this letter I want to thank you for being one of the best humans in my life. You have constantly been the best friend through thick and the thin. Through all of the people I have met at the University of Arizona, you have by far been the most consistent, loyal, and most loving friend. I'll probably miss a lot of thank you's that are in order, but I'll do my best.

Thank you for always playing the devil's advocate when there's a situation that I need help with. You have taught me what it is like to see a situation from several points of views. This has helped shape my perspective on life, so much. I usually tend to be somewhat pessimistic, but you always make sure that I am taking everything with a grain of salt, and I really think twice about every decision I am making.

Through all of our adventures, our yearly music festival has to take the cake. This past year was the weekend when we began to get even closer than before, and I am so grateful for that. You are easily one of the people I want to see at my wedding standing next to me as my bridesmaid. I am so happy that we are becoming more and closer because you are one of the best people I have met.

You have taught me what it means to put your friends first, over any guy that might come into either of our lives. Even though your previous relationship, you always made time for me and made sure I knew I was a priority through your actions. This meant a lot, and spoke so much to your character; I'll never forget that!

When I went through one of the worst breakups of my life, you were there building me up, and telling me how much I was worth. I am so grateful for a friend like you! You always see the best in every situation and always make sure to push your friends to do the same.

Thank you so much for all the sodas and snacks from the Park Student Union. Thank goodness one of us has the Gold meal plan! You always come through with all the munchies and drinks, and never ever act like it's a burden (Such a true friend!).

Finally, the last thank you I have, is for your humor. Your humor is seriously one of the bests, and you always make me laugh no matter what we're up to. I have never met someone who genuinely laughs when I make dad jokes, most people roll their eyes! Whenever I am sad or even a little down, you'll say something that will just make me cry from laughter. I am so grateful for that as well.

Overall, you are seriously one of the best people on this planet, and I am so grateful to be one of your best friends. I can't wait to make even more memories together this year with you. This is the year you turn 21, and I can't wait to legally celebrate with you finally!

I love you to death!

-Dani

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