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sometimes, it’s the small things

We are all so busy. All the time.

Most of us are moving from one thing to the next, and our society’s culture has become as such that we expect everything almost immediately. We’re addicted to our phones, connected to each other via social media at all times, and have little to no down time to really relax or appreciate the moments around us.

The last 7-ish years of my life feel like they have been a bit of a blur, but at the same time it feels like forever ago that I started my undergrad program at Western in nursing. If you told 18 year old me that I would be where I am today, I would probably laugh in your face. In fact, when I was graduating in 2016, my parents told me “I would come back and teach in the new nursing building one day” and I told them that they were crazy. Well- never say never….

I remember being a naive little 16 year old co-op student in the paediatric emergency department. It was my dream to be a paediatric nurse- the opportunity to hold a baby or observe a trauma seemed like the BIGGEST deal. Being in that environment invigorated me, and made me hellllla excited to be a nurse. When I look back now even at myself in nursing school or when I was a brand new graduate, I was excited by so many small things. I felt privileged to be there and to have a part in supporting patients and families with their care. I was the bubbly, excited, always give 110% nurse. I am still that nurse in some of those ways, but over time and with experience things make you jaded. And you lose sight of some of those small things. Can’t enjoy sitting on the couch making your assignments with a glass of wine because you have 50 other things on your to- do list. Don’t get to look forward to going into work for professional development days to learn new things because you’ve already been there four days this week. And when I feel like that and think like that, I can’t help but feel disappointment in myself for letting myself get to this point. Where did I lose myself and the things I loved along the way?

Being super busy all the time is something that I have always enjoyed. It gives me purpose, and honestly doesn’t give me a lot of time to spend on worrying about some of the more trivial things that would probably otherwise bother me/ stress me out. So, whether that’s good or bad coping I will leave that for you to decide. When I was in my undergrad, balancing a job and school made me use my time wisely and gave me opportunities to travel and have experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise. But lately, it has seemed like I have been able to enjoy less of these things and more just go through the motions. Every so often when I am walking down the hall in the hospital or hear an old song I remember how I used to feel though when I was bright and shiny and new, and I think to myself- I miss feeling like that.

Moving into 2020 felt a little different for me than any other year. Whether it was the prospects of a new decade or just the many things going on in my life, for the first time in many years I felt like this year had potential. Potential to be different, maybe accomplish some of the things I have on the go, and bring new opportunities. It has also brought me the chance to take a step back and reflect a little bit on my priorities, how I spend my time and my energy, and what I am moving and working towards.

And that’s the thing- with the way society is today, we are alway on to the “next thing”. Being a pretty motivated and hard working person, I am always moving towards my next goal- finishing school, getting that job I’ve always wanted, reaching my health goals, or jumping over the many other hurdles life brings along the way. However, that also brings some challenges that I don’t really think I gave much thought to before. Sometimes, when you’re moving along on your path, you miss the other things along the way (insert corny quote here about life is about the journey not the destination).

When we picture our lives in five or ten years, very few of us picture that we will be alone, isolated, jobless, or experiencing challenges. While that is a very real part of life. So when these things happen, it almost feels like a failure. If we stopped focusing so much on the “where we want to be” and spent more focus and energy on where we are or that process of growth in the moment, would we be happier? Maybe.

The fact of the matter is we are all pretty good at the go-go-go routine until we can’t do it anymore. With my very busy job(s), and school, life, and all the other things on top of that I have gotten pretty good at going through the motions of checking the boxes on my list and less enjoying what I’m doing… and I’m pretty sure that has contributed to a lot of the burnout I’ve felt over the past year.

This year though, I have made a really conscious effort to focus on some of the small “wins” or moments in my life that fulfill me or make me happy, because when you’re still far from those “finish lines”, it can feel pretty dark and desperate. And sometimes the littlest things can make the biggest difference. For me, I know that I really enjoy sitting at my desk on a weekend morning off with a cup of coffee and writing a blog post, so I’ve made space in my schedule to do that for me. I took two hours (between what seemed like the million errands I needed to run, my taxes, and assignment marking) to enjoy going for a facial (courtesy of my students from last semester, you guys are the absolute best!). Or even just stopping to BREATHE for five whole seconds. You often don’t realize all the tension in your body until you take a deep breath.

For me, I know that if I take the two hours to reset and feel organized/ do some self care, I am a lot more resilient and prepared for the rest of my week. I’ve learned that I can move onwards and upwards, towards my goals and it is STILL okay to celebrate some of the accomplishments along the way. Know that the things that test and challenge you bring you a greater understanding of yourself and make you more resilient. Those lessons and experiences mean so much more than the “milestones” you reach along the journey. So be patient with yourself, give yourself time, push onwards and upwards, and take a moment to appreciate some of those little things that used to excite you to motivate you along the way. Don’t lose your spark or let life harden you.

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