On The Brink Of Moving To College, I Pray I've Made The Right Decision

On The Brink Of Moving To College, I Pray I've Made The Right Decision

It's a lot to handle.

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As I'm writing this, I am sitting in a room at the Hotel Indigo, watching "Thor Ragnarok."

My face hurts, my head hurts, and my heart hurts. I have cried no less than five times in the past two days, and I know I'm just going to cry more tomorrow.

I move into my dorm tomorrow and say goodbye to the life I've known for the past 17 years.

Logically, I understand that college is important and that this was bound to happen sooner or later, but part of me wishes I would've stayed closer to home.

It's hard. It's really hard.

At this point in my life, I feel extremely uncertain about what my future holds, and it's tearing me apart. I wish I knew all the answers. Because if I did, I wouldn't be so scared.

I'm scared I won't make any good friends.

I'm scared about being on my own (I'm not even a legal adult yet).

I'm scared about not being a right fit for my program. Or my university.

I'm scared that I'm going to have to try and balance two lives -- one at school, and one at home, and as a result, I'm never going to fit in anywhere.

I've heard the really awesome stories about how college was the best time of someone's life and I've also heard about the times when people had to drop out.

I hope I'm somewhere in the middle.

I've been told that home isn't going anywhere, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.

I'm not really sure what to do anymore.

All I know right now is that to quote Leslie Knope, "I sad."

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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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I'm A College Freshman And, Yes, I Changed My Major

Because who really knows what they want at 18, right?

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In the fall of your senior year of high school, you begin the stress of filling out college applications. You fill out pages about your background, high school classes, extracurriculars, essays, and then you stumble onto the drop-down box titled "Major." For most people, this is where the panic hits. You think to yourself, "What do I want to do for the rest of my life?"

Some people know automatically. Maybe they want to go Pre-Med, so they major in Biology, Chem, Neuroscience, etc. Maybe they want to go into a specific business field like Accounting, Finance, or Actuarial Science. Some people know exactly what they want to do in their future career, but most people don't.

You always hear, "Don't get a tattoo when you're 18 because you might regret it," yet you're basically expected to decide your career before you're 20 years old.

I had no idea what career I wanted to go into when choosing my major during my senior year, so I chose a major that I was interested in — Philosophy.

"Have fun working at McDonald's" is something no one actually said to me, but I could tell that when I told them my major their thoughts were somewhere in that vicinity. My dad thought that I was making a huge mistake and wasting my potential by going for that major. I encouraged him to research the skills learned during, and the average salary of, the Philosophy major. He realized that it was a great major! A philosophy student learns critical thinking, analysis, and strong writing skills, which are valuable to all careers.

I was excited.

Like I said before, Philosophy was something that I was super interested in and I was excited to take classes for it in college. My plan was to double major with Marketing and get a certificate (comparable to a Minor) in Spanish.

When I attended one of the Future Badgers orientations, my plan was thrown a little off track.

I learned that UW-Madison does not offer a certificate in Spanish for non-Business majors. In addition, I learned that you had to apply and be accepted into the School of Business in order to major in Marketing, and the School of Business at UW-Madison is extremely competitive and difficult to get into when you're not a direct admit. The school I did apply to was the Honors College of Letters & Science for Philosophy.

I was upset when I realized that I had messed up. By not knowing that I had to directly apply to the business school, I had missed out on the opportunity to follow one of my possible career paths. I thought, "Well it's okay, I really like Philosophy so I can find another major to pair with that and I'll be good!"

You might be thinking, "Why Philosophy in the first place though?" Well, the truth is that I was interested in Philosophy because I struggled with finding meaning in life, happiness, and sometimes existence (don't we all?). I knew that Philosophy was a subject that explored those concepts, so I figured that I could find my answers there.

In reality, the various ideas of what meaning in life and happiness were just made me mad. Why are these people telling me what MY meaning in life is? What should make ME happy? I realized that only I could determine my meaning, find my own happiness, and use both of those to calm my thoughts about existence. In philosophical terms, I fall into the category of a subjectivist (take a Philosophy class to find out what that means!!).

I didn't want to hear other people's theories because I had finally figured mine out. By the second semester of my freshman year, I realized that I no longer wanted to major in Philosophy.

I went into college strongly believing that I wouldn't be one of those students who changed their major, even though I was repeatedly told that many students do and it's okay. See, I'm the type of person who likes to stick to her plan at all costs, so the thought of having to create a whole new plan put me into full-blown panic mode.

Since I decided against the Philosophy major, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and therefore I didn't know what classes to take for the next semester.

I frantically began researching other degrees within the College of Letters & Science, and nothing really stood out to me. I panicked when thinking that I might never find a major that I'm truly dedicated to. I took a step back, realized that I still had about a month until I had to schedule, and then set my quarter-life crisis aside for a while.

After spring break, I was getting closer to having to schedule fall classes, and I knew that I had to figure my plan out.

I thought about what I liked to do, and writing instantly came to mind. I mean, I've been writing for Odyssey for a while so I've not only had more experience, but I've also increased my love of writing. Whenever I tell people that I write for Odyssey, they ask me, "Are you a Journalism major?" and I've always said no, but now I'm thinking yes.

I decided to look into the Journalism program here at UW-Madison, and found out that there is a Strategic Communications track which focuses on advertising, PR, and marketing. Writing and marketing? Perfect! I finally figured out my plan: Major in Strategic Communications with a Certificate in Business. I get to combine my love of writing and my interest in the marketing career field.

What I learned from all of this is that it's okay to not know your major, to make mistakes, to not know what you want to do for a career, and to change your whole path. Focus on doing what you love and don't be afraid if things don't work out how you expected them to.

My favorite way to look at life is that every wrong turn is an opportunity.

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