This isn’t the path that I started down. That’s the thought that keeps running through my head today. This morning, while doing my normal morning Facebook perusing while my daughter stares slack jawed at Elmo on the TV, and I waited for my coffee to brew, I checked out my “memories”. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a feature that Facebook has where it allows you to look back over posts that you’ve made on this day in years past.
For the past week or two there has been a running theme, my future. In 2010 I went back to school to become a nurse. I can remember the exact moment I decided that it’s what I wanted to do. I was sitting in my car alone, staring out the window at some bushes, having just finished having a very long and loud cry. I thought, “This isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing with my life” and immediately after, “I want to be a nurse.”
Now, go back two years. I was nearing the end of my longest lay off yet. My job hunt had been wildly unsuccessful as most of the major mortgage companies had been closing their doors, the market was flooded with capable candidates, and any companies that were managing to keep their doors open were tightening their belts and working on keeping the lights on. In other words, nobody needed one more account manager on the books.
I had blown through my savings and maxed out every credit card I had (once I figured out that I could pay the electric bill with my visa, it all went rapidly downhill). I was eating cucumbers and dip for dinner most nights. I had begged, borrowed, and stolen as far as I could and things were verging on the brink of dire. Or maybe things already were dire and I was just focused on the silver lining (after all, I could afford dip for my cucumbers, life wasn’t all doom and gloom). I had called a temp agency to try and get my foot in the door at one of the few companies that was still writing mortgages. Naturally, I had secured a job interview for the same day that I came down with a stomach virus. I interviewed while green around the gills and trying desperately be both impressive and to not puke on anyone. For some strange reason they offered me the job. I was there for approximately three weeks before they announced that they would be closing the branch.
This is how things went for me back then.
They had given us plenty of notice so I had some breathing room while I searched for a job outside the industry (and at a much lower salary). That ended up being a sales position with a pest control company. So, yeah, way outside the industry. Also, way outside of my comfort zone. I do not like sales. Selling things is the worst. You have to be “on” at all times, which is something that I am not. Fortunately, it was around this time that HARP/HASP were rolled out and things were beginning to look up. I was able to leave (read: run screaming from) my sales job and return to doing what I loved paid the bills.
I mentioned before that the moment I decided that I was going back to school I was sitting in my car while parked in front of some bushes… well that was two years prior to when I actually went back to school. That’s right, I made the decision that I wanted to do it, and then it took two years to actually do it. I can hear my mom’s voice in the back of my head telling me that if I had gone back when I first thought about it I would have been finished by the point that I actually ended up starting.
So, in 2010 I went back to school to become a nurse. It was a wildly exciting and terrifying time. Aside from going back to school after an almost ten year hiatus I had a lot going on. It was probably not the best time to start something as hard as nursing school (as the best time would have been two years prior jackass… that’s me, not you), but it was the time that I chose none the less.
According to Facebook I loved it. I did very well in the first two courses that I took (it’s six years later and I don’t really remember anything that I learned during that period of time, which is a little scary). I was full of enthusiasm and excited by the promise of the future and what lay ahead of me. I don’t need Facebook to help me remember what came next. I was two courses in before I had to drop out (the first time). I couldn’t keep up with the work load and put in as many hours at the office as I needed to in order to meet expectations. I had to decide between my possible future as a nurse and my present day situation of being a person that needed electricity and food and water and stuff. The food and water and stuff won out (I had gotten used to eating things other than cucumbers for dinner by then). The second time I had to drop out was for the same reasons, current responsibilities and expectations won out over the someday future in which I would become a nurse.
Lots of things happened from that point on. I out lasted one more company and two more job changes before deciding to leave the work force. I never went back to school.
So there I stood, Sesame Street playing in the background, coffee mug filling up before me, and my phone in my hand. Scrolling though Facebook declarations of what a slightly younger me had decided would become of my life.
The best laid plans, right.
I took my mug to the couch and sat down and sipped hot coffee next to my daughter. She leaned into my shoulder and pulled her blanket up and yelled out, “Elmo!” in her sweet little voice. I put my phone down and leaned my head back and smiled. I’ll never know how much deciding not to stick with school changed my path. Would I have decided to return to work after having my daughter? Would I have even had her yet or would I still be focused on my career and getting to where I wanted to be, children still on the back burner?
Would I have found as much joy in the sound of that sweet little “Elmo” yell?
I still manage to get my fill of helping people these days, which is the real reason why I wanted to become a nurse, in caring for my daughter and my grandmother. Some days I clean up puke, some days I organize pills, and some days I fish boogers out of noses (I’m going to let you make your assumptions as to who I am talking about for each of those things). I have traded scrubs for leggings (boy have I ever), and job security for questioning what I am doing EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. OF. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Maybe in the future I will return to school. And maybe this next time will be the time that I am able to stick it out. For now I find myself exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment. I’m not going to tempt fate by making any great proclamations of what comes next or where I’ll be in another six years. All I know for sure is that if I’m back in the mortgage industry, something has gone terribly wrong in my life.
*Yeah that was a super obscure Burns reference