Perspective is a funny thing. It has always been one of the reasons I have loved where I work (and probably just being a nurse in general)- it gives you some appreciation for what’s going on in the world around you and the lives of others. That also doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen in our lives. It’s inevitable, really. You don’t get that promotion you were hoping for, or your life just doesn’t go as planned. If you know me or you work with me you also probably know I have some pretty terrible luck but also an INCREDIBLE knack for finding myself in all of the most awkward situations. And I’ll say that those all make for some pretty funny stories after the fact. Sure you’ve had to replace your couch 3 times in the first month of moving in (anyone remember my couch fiasco of 2k16???) but then you go to work and families are going through the most horrific thing that will ever happen to them. So I’ll take my hilariously bad luck over that any day.
The reality of it is that time helps wounds to heal, and the more that you can re-shift your mindset to focus on some of these things and move “onwards and upwards”. Thinking more positively also doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t have your “moments”. My life is far from perfect- there are many reasons that I can (and often I do) worry- school, relationships, money, work, you name it. There are still days where as a result of my pent up frustrations become something resembling a volcano of emotions and hormones- but give yourself that moment and then move forward. If you focus on all the things that have already happened to you or the things that “could”, you will miss the things happening right in front of you.
I think sometimes we get caught up in the inevitable busyness of the world that we don’t stop to appreciate these things. It takes conscious effort, even in the most difficult moments of our lives. But I’ve noticed something (in my relatively short number of years on this earth)- the people I know who are unkind to others and are the most difficult to be around due to their negative energy are also the people who don’t feel they have much to look forward to and feel the most unfulfilled. Just remember that saying “everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. I remind myself of this often when people may not be kind to you- usually this comes from a place of their own insecurities, not an issue with you.
And so with that, my 2020 mantra has become: you can’t control the rest of the world or how others may treat you, but you can treat others with kindness regardless.
Both with the craziness of life and what can feel like constant negativity at work during a challenging time of constant change in our healthcare system, I’ve felt burnt out to say the least. It can be soul sucking – and even trying to step back from that, it is SO easy to fall into the trap. And I’m totally guilty of participating sometimes too. I’m not one for New Years Resolutions, but I’ve certainly felt in my core the need for a “reset” the past while. Those who know me know that I don’t like (and have a hard time) doing things for the sake of “doing them”, I want them to be meaningful– so this for me seemed like a more sustainable change that could have a realistic impact on my work and personal life.
I’ve had the opportunity to teach and work with many students over the years (it is still crazy to me that I’m already doing this so early in my career), but I would certainly say that my students have had an impact on me just as much as I have on them as young learners and nurses-to-be. I vividly remember having a discussion with my group one Friday afternoon after an emotionally challenging day where they were exposed to some heart wrenching situations in paediatrics. We talked a lot about how we “take things home” as nurses, the importance of self-care, and nurse burnout being very real which I experienced pretty early on in my career (again, more on that in another post). One of those students sent me a message after her first experience in a code (resuscitation), which was emotional and traumatic. She remembered what I said to them that day- we are nurses second, HUMANS first. The point being, this conversation during my very regular teaching day, was something totally normal to me but really resonated with them. Not because I am some crazy influential or amazing person, but because what we do and what we say has an impact on others. People remember how we make them feel. Whether we want to admit that or not, it’s a fact. This story of how what we do (because it’s my job, because I love it, because I feel it is the right thing to do), makes a difference is a prime example that we can create positive change in the things we do each day, in the way we treat others, and go through life.
I think it’s important to address that we have feelings and our own experiences, and they ripple through everything we do. So it is utterly impossible for us to give, and give, and give to others when our own cup is empty. So naturally, the way we perceive our own lives and those in it affects how we live too. I’ve chosen to focus on the positives in my life. I can’t control the chaos of the world around me, but there are some things I can control. The rest will fall into place in the universe as it should be. I’ve chosen to surround myself with people who add value to my life because that I can control, and I’ve even started this page because it brings me joy (and maybe selfishly a little outlet for venting) because that is something I can control.
Recently a friend and I went for breakfast and the waitress serving us recognized my friend from caring for her (then very sick children) in the hospital quite some time ago. In that moment we both had the same thoughts before we even spoke them to each other- that this wonderful, kind woman was spending her Sunday morning serving us when she had two beautiful miracle children at home, and we were lucky enough to be going to sleep in our warm beds.
I guess there are two types of people we could have been in that situation- the first being you could say that we have worked hard and dedicated years of our lives to go to nursing and medical school, and we’ve earned that “right” after working all night. The second being you could also say we are extremely fortunate on two counts- for having careers that allow us that privilege, but even more than that- to make a lasting impact on others. I don’t know about you, but I know that I want to be the second person.
I read a great quote last week which said “surround yourself with people who focus on an ocean of positives, not a puddle of negatives”, which sums everything up nicely I think. It was a timely little reminder that some of these choices I’ve made ultimately will impact my own happiness. I know this first “real” post ended up being a little longer than I anticipated but I think it’s an important one – and with that before signing off I’ll leave you guys with this great post from an account I recently started following on Instagram- sometimes all it takes is a little positivity to start your day off right.