You know that picture of a nurse with a caption that goes “I wish I could take my family to work so they could see why I’m such a bitch when I get home”? I honestly think it went viral because a lot of nurses can relate to it, including me. I honestly struggled during my first year of working as a nurse. I hated it with all my being and everyone was affected with my after work attitude. I always had an aura of distaste in the world when I get home. I didn’t talk to anyone. I avoided conversations about work and I threw tantrums in my room. I cried every night asking the lord why in the world did I choose to become a nurse. I know I prayed so much to have the letters R and N stitched after my name but in exchange for what? A stressful work environment and constant anxiety attacks before going to work?! There were times I wished I didn’t pass the licensure exam so I could have taken a different path. My parents would often try to start a small talk with me but I just end up being tearful. I rarely answer back because I hated talking about it. I figured there’s no point in talking because It wont make me any better. it won’t make my work easier. I know I may sound like a brat talking like this but nursing is haaaaaaaaard and I cannot put enough stress on that word! They said it’s normal to find everything so difficult because I’m still new to the job. Yeah, I know it’s normal but I’d lose myself before I even get adjusted to this work. Demands from everyone and complains being thrown left and right at work was just too much. Really, I just wanted to leave!
There was one time, my parents were getting so frustrated? mad? at me as I was isolating myself and avoiding discussions with them, they just told me to resign – If I can’t stand being a nurse then just quit. My mom (who is also a nurse) said that it is better to quit the job before I commit a serious medical error because I’m always troubled while at work. I answered back and said that quitting the job is not a choice and I need to work…then I cry again. Apparently, that’s how our conversations always end. I cry and I leave. I hated being in that situation wherein I was hurting but I knew I was hurting my parents more. I didn’t want to disappoint them but what can I do? The struggle is just too real! Yes, there are a lot of choices. I can quit and stay at home. I can quit and work as a call center agent. I can quit and work as a barista or in McDonalds. I can quit and work in a clinic. There are a lot of choices but none of them would work for me. I needed a job that will help me reach my dreams and hopefully “secure” my future and I only have nursing to help me achieve that. What about my dreams of seeing the world? Dreams of giving my parents an all paid vacation trip to wherever they want to go? Dreams of giving financial aid to loved ones? I need a job to fulfill those dreams. I can’t quit and just give up! Nursing is the only thing I know how to do and I know I’m good at it! I can cope with unfair working conditions and environment (e.g. unpaid extension at work for 2-4 hours) for as long as I can but realizing that there’s a huge possibility I’ll get stuck for years in the hospital with this job makes me cringe.
No, I’m joking. I decided to climb the ladder of nursing career.
I guess I took the road more traveled by and that has not made all the difference (yet). Robert Frost might be hitting my head with a bat but the other road doesn’t seem to have anything for me. If I resign, what will I do? Unlike other people who can use their talents (become an artist or a basketball player) and make money out of it, I had none. My only talent is stress- eating on an everyday basis. And that’s not even healthy! I’d die before I reach 30.
So, I continued with my two year contract and as experience after experience sharpened my clinical eye, the job became more familiar. On my second year, I was offered to apply for a charge nurse position, which I did. I did it because promotion is a good thing. My mind was then focused on how I can make my resume attractive so I can use it when I apply for work abroad (which is the basic mindset of most nurses and I am obviously and definitely not excluding myself from the pool). However, the dilemma of resigning or not continuously played on my mind.
Though the job was becoming routine, for some reason anxiety still continued to attack me. I still get scared going to work. Thoughts such as: what kind of patients will I handle today? Will someone die? will relatives complain? will doctors get mad? Will I commit medication error? Will patients or relatives shout at me? haunted my mind. Anxiety was the reason why I always sit in coffee shops or pray in the Chapel for hours before work just to calm myself down or I go through tumblr and read quotes to make me feel better (they made me feel miserable, actually. Sometimes I can convince myself that I am a masochist -not in the sexual sense!). Spending alone time in coffee shops while observing people became a therapy. It worked but it didn’t last. Anxiety kept crawling back and it bothered me so much. I was running out of defense mechanism to fight back. It was just too much to bear. Imagine waking up and you are already worried, fearful and agitated inside. At one point, I thought that if this goes on, I’d go mental. I had to find my way out of this environment. I asked myself how can I work in a place that evokes fear and anxiety? And here I thought Nursing was founded on the basis of love and care.
That’s when I started looking for job opportunities online. I considered all the places in the world – Middle East, Australia, UK, US, Canada and even Germany. Upon looking at the work requirement, I found out most of them would require me to take IELTS.
An english exam. Okay, no worries. Unlike most people, IELTS didn’t worry me. I wasn’t scared of taking an English exam.What terrified me was the fact that there’s a big possibility of getting a low grade because scoring can be subjective. Uh oh. What if they fail me because my hand writing sucks or because I had a coffee stain on my dress during the interview or because the checker couldn’t understand my flow of ideas? Also, failing means asking for money again from my parents to retake the test. Money was the harm actually – 13,000-15,000 pesos isn’t easy money. But I was desperate!
I dedicated my spare time to writing on yellow pads with paragraphs after paragraphs of all the possible topics I could find on the internet which were commonly used for IELTS. I’d browse through thesaurus.com while stuck in traffic to familiarize myself with synonyms and antonyms, expand my vocab and find highfalutin words hoping that, whoever will check my writing during the exam, will be so surprised that I knew such words existed. I somehow felt stupid for doing so because I know for myself I can freaking converse in English. Taking IELTS now seemed like a “make it or break it” moment.
The results came in thirteen days after I took the exam. For all the Love of the Lord, I got a grade high enough that fits the criteria of all the countries I planned to apply to. So, I sent my resume to various agencies I wasn’t even sure existed physically. Emailing my resume to them felt like a competition. My life was suddenly illuminated. I could feel my blood flowing and I felt hope sending shivers down my spine. After two and half years, I was again thrilled to wait for something magical to happen. For God to work miracles. I guess when you get stuck in one place for quite sometime you forget how it feels like to look forward to something good again.
I put a lot of effort in making the dream happen – to finally resign, get out of Manila traffic and work in a different country and eventually see the world. I compromised sleep to attend interviews and set up appointments. I made time for studying again despite having 12 hour shifts in the hospital, despite the overtime-thank-you….despite the stress and anxiety. I said I was not going to let this slip out of my hands.
‘when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’
I took a total of three exams and filled out numerous documents I can’t even manange to remember anymore. I went through the hassle of chasing college certificates and forms. I drowned myself in caffeine and pushed myself to complete requirements. I tracked all my progress on the phone’s calendar and I got excited everytime something gets accomplished. I was on a high when I received my decision letter from the Nursing council in the UK because finally, I can resign. I can resign and not get scared. I can resign because I’m going somewhere else. I can resign because I have another job. I can resign and cut my name patch on my uniform and give it back to HR (It’s not like I wanted to keep it, anyway). It was such a glorious moment.
The next thing I know, I was packing my things and braving myself for the next chapter of my life.
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April 9, 2016 : 2 years, 6 months and 9 days. Too many bedside stories told. Too many complaints heard. Too many significant human experiences learned. Too many relationships formed. Too many rants shared. Too many deaths witnessed. Too many lives changed. To the alcohol pads in my pocket, my red Littmann and tight-uniform-that-almost-gave-up: Cheers! We're finally done! Thank you, 8th Front. ❤️😭☕️ #FurioParaSaBayan #CanIPrintNES?!?!
On May 4, 2016 (5 months after my interview with the UK nurses who went to Manila for recruitment) I found myself in Heathrow International airport carrying my luggages with 19 other nurses filled with hope and whose dream of working in UK (or leave Manila) has turned into reality.
I am now in London and although I’m still working as a Nurse, the working conditions here are far better than back home. The people are amazing and they respect your job. Work is still hard but I have received the sincerest Thank yous in my life from my patients here and that really makes the difference. My constant fear and anxiety have been replaced with endless gratitude and smile.
I thought this chapter of my life would come a little later. I’m beyond blessed to be here. I’m the youngest in my co-hort to be employed here in London (AHHHHH!!! it still sounds surreal when I say I’m working and living in London) and I don’t remember how many people have asked me how lucky I am to find work (nursing in particular) outside the country at 23. I never learned how to respond to that statement. I think aside from hard work, it was my constant prayers that brought me here. I’m not saying others aren’t praying hard. This is just my Time and He granted my prayers.
After all that’s happened, I have come to the realization that pain and struggles are part of the dream. Working in a job that you hate can be part of the dream. The hell that you are currently in can actually be your door to more opportunities. You don’t have to make the right choices all the time but you do need to learn how to float with the countless number of waves coming in, no matter how low or high they might get. Friends, family and even strangers will tell you to ditch your job if you don’t like it. I did it the other way around. I continuously worked in a profession and environment I didn’t like for two and half years and it paved the way for my other dreams to manifest.
I’m still half hearted with nursing and It’s not something I’d want to do for the rest of my life but this is what I have been blessed with at the moment and I’m taking it. At least I can take the other half with me to do the thing I love the most. I am going places. <3
I am still hopeful that one day I’d be able to live by the saying “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It’s not yet my Time.