The “Real” World

nursing_signAfter two and a half years of nursing school, people start mentioning the word reality.

I don’t deny that there will be many “reality shocks” in the overwhelming, ever-shifting world of nursing.

In fact, the technologies and issues we discussed in length two years ago have already transformed into newer technologies with their own sets of logistical and ethical issues tacked alongside.

I think most soon-to-be college graduates, traditional or not, get the well meant but irritating celebrate, and then welcome to the “real world” comment.

Reality check

In fact, most everyone has been told about the “real world” at some point in life.

I clearly recall my sixth grade science teacher informing us, “Then you grow up, and you will all be flipping burgers at McDonald’s.”

I’ll tell you what; this sort of “reality check” prophecy is not useful for boosting a twelve year-old’s self-esteem.

Another favorite “real world” comment from this particular teacher included something along the lines of, “You girls will start having babies and your hips will expand, and you won’t look like a Diet Coke model anymore.”

As though a girl’s sole worth revolves around babies and looks. I digress.

I can’t blame my sixth grade science teacher for permanent emotional scarring. Really, youth are resilient.

When we grow up, we can see our own feisty durability from the past, and move through our current situation victoriously as such.

Reflecting back, the majority of teachers in my past were supportive and pushed me down the routes I later chose.

Most of us do not take an easy, expected path.

After I graduated high school, I went from a radical liberal arts college in Ohio; to discovering a love for science via cadaver lab in Missoula; to a hospital in Northern Ghana; to a college of technology in Montana an hour from where I grew up; to nursing school.

In the midst, I worked numerous full-time and part-time jobs.

Lived in various cheap apartments fluctuating from bamboo floors to Kool-Aid stained carpets, and met off-color strangers who became friends or stayed strangers.

I watched children die and welled up with rage, I watched babies born by candlelight and wrapped them in blankets.

I held a friend who mourned her abuse, I  was held by friends when admitting my own familiarities with violence.

How is that not reality?

Is a nine to five office job, two-story house, life insurance plan, 2.5 kids, a dog, air fresheners, bills, mortgages, sitcom-watching, dining-room sitting reality more of a reality than mine?

If “reality” only consists of wishing for more and never being satisfied with the haves and only obsessed with the have-nots…then I don’t want it.

Yes, the realities of nursing will surely shock me. In fact, they already have.

“Sure, there is so much I still have to learn.”

There is so much I do not know, and cannot know, and will be shocked to learn.

I am terrified of becoming a “real nurse” with a “real license” and “real accountability” and I cannot even predict all of the wild, quick changes that will occur.

I cannot and do not want to imagine the mistakes I will make in the process.

I admit, that reality is going to be intense and unpredictable. Nobody can really be “ready” for that.

But, on the flip side…I have lived in reality for the last twenty-five years and counting.

Sure, there is so much I still have to learn.

But, please do not talk about “the real world” as though it is some abstract concept and as though I have not experienced such a spectrum of human emotions and issues and mistakes.

Yes, there is more to come.

Yes, I am young.

Yes, I am stubborn.

But my reality is very, very real.

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