Have you ever taken a trip simply for the feeling of freedom and control over your life? I have recently found myself on the other end of the country for work (military obligation). I used this as an opportunity to seek out adventure, inspiration, and in all honesty, to seek out myself.
It has only been a few weeks since I quit my job and began this journey of self-exploration. I have still been feeling like it’s unreal and that soon I will need to wake up and pull my head out of the clouds. It’s like there’s been an alarm clock ringing within my mind and I keep hitting the snooze button. “A little longer” I tell myself as I try to recover the good bits and pieces of that last sweet dream. Since I decided to leave my job, it’s been like a constant battle with myself and the question of whether or not I made a big mistake. Bills are coming in and I feel guilty that I’m not contributing as much as I used to (for now anyways). My husband is still fully supportive of me and my goals. I just don’t want to let him down and I can’t leave him to bear all the weight on his own.
The plan I would always tell people when they would initially ask why I was quitting was that I have my NCLEX-PN boards coming up in December. The test is scheduled, fully paid for, and all I have to do is pass and I’ll be a licensed LPN. The plan was to take the time off to really focus and study. Afterwards I would continue school and go from LPN to RN, eventually get my BSN, maybe move forward with a Master’s degree…I even have a job lined up in an assisted living facility once I’m licensed. (Perks of working in a restaurant-you never know who you’ll end up meeting.) This was a steady, respectable plan, right? Sturdy. No one would question my motives. In fact, it was the opposite. People were encouraging me to go through with it and weren’t doubtful of this plan in the slightest. They knew I would succeed and become exactly what I wanted to be. Why then, did it feel like I was lying to everyone?
While the plan sounded great to the people I would open up to about it, there was always a sting in my mouth as the words came out. I told this to everyone-my customers, my friends, my family, peers I work with in the Air Force-everyone. I became so good at storytelling that I even convinced myself that I was going to go through with it. I bought books, studied hard for about a month, and then I turned towards my art again to catch my breath. I just wanted a break. I painted something and had so much freedom in doing so. It wasn’t long until that piece sold. It was there I found my peace of mind again.
You know, there’s a reason we are all drawn to certain things in life. We all have things we are good at and things we enjoy doing. While nursing is something I believe I would succeed in, I’d be lying to myself even more so if I were to say that being a nurse was my passion and calling. It never has been, but it has been something that people have always genuinely approved of. “You’ll always have a job.” “There’s so much you can do with a nursing career.” “Nurses make a lot of money.” These are some of the statements I’ve heard as a response to my career plans. The approval of people was something so powerful that I almost convinced myself to do what I know deep down would never make me happy or give my a sense of fullness for my life.
Why do we, as a society, strive for social acceptance? Why do we deny ourselves of doing what makes us happy simply because we are scared of what people might think of us or what we’re doing? We have this idea in our heads of obligation and reality and we strive to do what is viewed as acceptable in society. Culture has dictated what success is supposed to look like, from our careers to our vehicles, our homes, and even how we raise our families. I’ve chased the field of nursing and told people this was my plan for years now simply because I knew no one would disapprove. There’s a reason I haven’t pushed myself to complete this plan. There’s a reason I’ve been in the process of becoming a nurse for so many years. It’s because I don’t want to be a nurse. I challenge you to define your idea of what success looks like-not society-but yours.
While I was in San Diego, I felt my spirit ignite. There’s really something therapeutic about nature and being so close to the open ocean. The sunshine, rolling tides, and treasures laid out on the sand all played part in helping my dreams take flight. I got so much inspiration from this trip and have discovered so much about myself in such a short time-frame. It was exactly what I needed to get inspired and to remind myself of why I took this leap of faith to begin with. I have so many goals and I have peace in knowing that this is only the beginning.
I’ve defined my idea of success in this world. It’s a very simple definition and I believe it is something that all of us have heard before. Can you guess what it is? Happiness. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Deep down, I’m an artist. I’m free. I’ve always been hesitant to really pursue art as a full-time career because I was afraid of failure. I was afraid of how people would react. Artist’s don’t get enough respect as it is and it’s not uncommon for people to doubt an artist’s ability to make a living. Recently though, I’ve been really able to connect with myself and my own desires. I’m done caring what people think of me and I’m done living up to everyone’s expectations and what they think I should be.
Since my last blog post, I have had so many people reach out to me. I’ve had people message me-in tears-saying that my words had stricken them and that they were feeling the exact same way that I was feeling. While I felt comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone, I also felt a great sadness stirring up within me. So many of us are stuck in the daily grind just rolling through the motions in jobs that don’t give us fulfillment or happiness. If this is you, I encourage you to challenge yourself and your reasoning. Are you only doing this because society has crushed your dreams and you feel like your goals are too far out of your reach? Life is too short, my friends. Don’t spend it dreading your next day of life. If there’s something else you feel you need to be doing, come up with a plan to make it happen. I understand we all need to support ourselves and while your end goal may take time to get to, make a plan to at least get the ball rolling in the right direction. We are the only one’s that set the limits of what is possible. There’s someone out there doing what you want to do and living the life you desire. There is nothing stopping you from being one of those people too.
I’m still in the very early chapters of this new life and am very excited to see what all unfolds. I plan to keep sharing the little bits and pieces along the way: thoughts, inspirations, goals for the future. Thank you for joining me along this journey. It feels good to be back home.