28 things I wish I knew

28 things I wish I knew

In September, I’ll be turning 28. Birthdays are starting to feel a bit different now. I’m not dreading them, but time is feels like it is just slipping, and I feel older lately. Chat with a person in their 40s and 50s and they will laugh, saying oh, you have so much time dear. You have so much life to live. And it’s true, I do. I know and appreciate that, but I can’t help but feeling like my real youth is slipping away, like I am now 100% in adulthood. And although adulthood has its pros and cons like any other stage in life, there are a lot of things I wish I knew in my early 20s. But with that being said, you have to live to get there. You only know these things after the fact. You only know these things when you live and grow as a human being. But when I was younger, I loved reading these types of blog posts because I loved tapping into other people’s brains and seeing things from other perspectives.

I wish I knew..

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my first year of nursing school | tips, feelings, and other thoughts

my first year of nursing school | tips, feelings, and other thoughts

Nursing school is a lot different than anything I have ever done. Having a BS in psychology, I have a solid college education. But nursing school is challenging because it integrates critical thinking + real world problems and situations. It is more than just exams, though those can make or break you. Critical thinking may come off as easy to some, but it takes practice to exercise that area of your brain. Most college students use “recall” on exams (where you are triggered to remember and can lead to a correct answer), but in nursing school, this is not the case.

So what is nursing school really like? This is my personal experience. There is a standard for nursing education, but each one in itself is different. It’s a combination of lecture class, clinicals, SIM experience (real situations on a mannequin), and a lot of various skills testing. The window for error is small, and there is a curve to ween out people who can’t keep up. Anything below a 75% is failing.

Nursing school is challenging, rewarding, but genuinely a great experience. Although I have only been in school for a year, these are a few things that have helped me have a successful and enjoyable first year.

My number one tip is get organized. I’m talking calendars, sticky notes, cute/fun stickers, amazing pens of all colors, a very organized and detailed binder with all kinds of fun tabs. At the beginning of your semester, fill in every exam, lab skill testing, open lab hours, and anything that is due. This is crucial to succeeding. Deadlines are strict and there is no room for I forgot to do my homework/prepare for class, clinicals, etc. You need to be ready. every. time. Every thing you are learning builds on top of the next thing you will learn, so you need to start strong and finish strong.

You will go through many stages of emotions during nursing school. First you’re going to be really excited. I got into nursing school! And congratulations because that can be hard work. You deserve to be excited. At first, it will be a combination of excitement and nervousness. What you can expect next will be some anxiety. This stage can be difficult. Your first skills testing, first few exams, and first few weeks of clinicals will give you some anxiety. But that is totally normal. My teacher has always reassured us how normal we are, and it always makes me feel better. I am currently just moving out of that anxious stage. I have more experience with patients and basic knowledge, that I am now starting to feel less anxious and more excited. I am finally connecting all the dots together and having a lot of ah ha moments. Like finally my hard work is paying off. You’ll be there too!

What can I expect on my first night of clinicals? Well I bet everyone’s experience is vastly different, but here’s how mine went: I panicked a lot. I didn’t know what to pack. I didn’t know what to expect as only having some medical experience – very basic. I didn’t know what to do, but I stuck with it and it all turned out okay. I’ll do a follow up post detailing my experience, what I packed, and what you can expect. Basically, you will meet your instructor for the semester, you’ll get a tour of the hospital, be assigned a patient, and you will use your basic knowledge to do a head-to-toe assessment. And as some one who has doesn’t have that type of experience, I was nervous. And a lot of people are nervous too. You won’t be alone. Many people may not be as vocal about it, but know that each person has their own insecurities, no matter how confident they may seem. (Update* – check out my blog post on everything you need for your first clinical experience).

Find that one person. This is a big one! I didn’t find her until my second semester, but when I did, we connected instantly and everything just seemed to flow together. We constantly lean on each other for support, we’ve grown with each other, and we keep one another in line. There are many times I would say it may be better to stick together as a big nursing pack, but that doesn’t work for everyone. I work better studying independently and so does my person, so this is what works best for us. We don’t study together, but we are constantly on the phone and texting to stay on the same page. Some people work in groups and are extremely successful; however, this just isn’t my study type. Find what works for you and keep a routine. You will be more successful in the long run. You may not find your routine your first semester, so take your time. Try new things and familiar things and see where you are at. I just had a routine of working on my bed in my dorm, so that is simply what has transferred over in nursing school and works for me 🙂

There is no competition to be better or smarter than anyone else in your class. You simply cannot let comparison be a thief to your experience or be fueled by competitiveness. It’s obviously great to want to be better, but it isn’t a competition. It’s hard not to feel a certain way when you think you may not be doing as well as everyone else, or you feel so behind because you may not have the experience other students have. You may feel like you’re at a disadvantage, but that’s not always the case. So block that all away. This is your journey. Teamwork makes the dream work but it starts with you. Some days I feel the tension between students in class and at clinicals. We are in stressful situations so it’s easy to compare. It’s easy to be hard on yourself or feel like you don’t measure up. Stay focused. Kindness goes a long way, in class, clinicals, and every day life. Help someone who may be struggling, but don’t carry someone else’s weight. Everything can feel heavy enough in nursing school. Know your limits.

Study almost every day. What works best for me is a continuing flow of study time, like 1-3 hours every night, with more time during exam weeks: and then once a week taking an almost complete break/night off. Yes, I even study on weekends; that is what being a night time student, a full time mommy, a homemaker, and managing my somewhat up and running photography business, is like. I have a somewhat flexible schedule, but I do best with a structured study schedule of doing a little bit here and there as opposed to cramming. Find your routine and map it out. Know your priority tasks. Know what your teacher will generally be testing you on and study that first. If you can’t pass the exams, you can’t move on. And when you do study, do for the sole purpose of learning. Don’t cut corners. If you look at the overall picture, if you try to understand for the sake of wanting to learn, you will be much more successful. You aren’t just studying to pass an exam, you’re building a foundation for your passion of helping others. Always remember that.

Loosing myself in the service of others has been the best feeling!

Stay focused, positive, and remember: you can do this!!!

~ Mamajbirdy

pros & cons of moving from your hometown to a new state

pros & cons of moving from your hometown to a new state

^^ Sweet home Chicago 

A long, long time ago…just kidding, just like three years back really 🙂 I moved away from the only home I ever knew, sweet home Chicago, 800ish miles away to the East Coast (first VA & now I’m somewhat nestled in PA).

When I think about these experiences, it brings out a lot emotions in me, some good and some bad. I wanted to share some of the pros and the cons I have felt and dealt  with these past few years. For those of you who may be deciding to leave the only home you’ve ever known.  Or maybe you’re just moving a little further away.  It is by no means an easy decision. Moving away from family and friends is hard no matter what the circumstances are. Whatever the case may be, here’s what I have taken away from this experience thus far and I hope maybe it will help you in your thought process.

Also, please keep in mind I moved away while I was 7 months pregnant, so being a new mom in a new state was very hard and altered my experience in many ways!

(Let’s start with the positives, shall we, since they say it’s good to look on bright side)

pros of moving to another state:

  • New experiences everywhere: probably my favorite part about this whole journey was when we moved into this amazing area called Arlington that was just a few miles from D.C. In fact, when my brother came to visit, he rode his bike to see the White House. Getting out and experiencing new places, new bites to eat, new sites, new opportunities were around every corner and every street. Now we live near farms and I get to experience a whole new scene: picking my own apples, blueberries, abundance of farmer’s markets (my fav), and all kinds of antique stores.
  • You have a chance at a fresh new start: when I left Chicago, it felt like I could leave all the baggage behind and start new. I wasn’t the same person I was in college anymore, so any drama or unhappy moments just kind of disappeared. Any mistakes that I had made just didn’t seem to follow me around as much anymore. I was able to start fresh, to find a new identity, maybe even try out a new name. I totally did that one year at summer camp in middle school. I tried out Jessie and it totally didn’t fit/work for me, not to mention I never answered to it.
  • You get to truly focus on you: you’ve been giving the tools you needed to succeed, and now it’s time to get out there and do something for yourself. You get to chose your own path, your own happiness, your future. Whether that is moving away to be with a special someone, or taking an amazing job opportunity, you do what you need to for yourself. It goes in line with one of my favorite quotes, “there are two gifts we should give our children, one is roots, the other is wings”. We will always know exactly where our home and our roots are, but we also need to have the courage and strength to leave them to explore new ground. No one will ever take away your home, because it’s more than simply a location or a pin on a map, it’s in your heart and in your mind. Moving to another state takes courage and energy, but you will be rewarded with strength and growth. Are you tired of the same scene? Are you tired of feeling like there is more out there? Maybe it’s time to explore something else.

cons of moving to another state:

  • I have not been able to “replace” my friends: I hate using the word replace, because of course, I can never replace the friends I have back in Chicago, they are pretty amazing and I would never ever want to in a million years, but mostly I have to yet to find friendships similar to them here. Like deep rooted friends, those you’d call in the middle of the night in tears, those friends for me are still 800 miles away. I’m still looking for a group I can feel a part of here, and sadly, I haven’t quite found it yet. Friends here and there, but nothing as substantial and deep as I had back home. But I’m happy doing my own things lately and exploring little bits and pieces of me in ways I haven’t before. Some part of me thinks I haven’t made as many friends as I would have hoped because I won’t let myself, (enter some type of fear here, maybe moving on?) or maybe because I found all my close friends during college and we had the time, energy, and cash from our shift to head out after work and blow it all on drinks at bars, come to work the next morning hungover and maybe even throw up in the back bathroom at work in between taking tables (say whaaaat, that never happened). What they say is true, you really do find your forever friends in college, before you “adult” and have children. You get to be stupid, fun, and make a million memories. Most days I think that my lack of opening up to meet friends is true, but most days, I’m like, I’m a mama, I’m tired. You want to grab a drink at 9 pm? Are you joking? Netflix & bed, mmmkay? Maybe I’m just looking for a girlfriend who wants to lay in bed and drink Merlot with me and chat about the good and the ugly of motherhood. If that sounds like you, come on over. Only if you bring wine of course.
  • Holidays suck: the first are the worst, and then it goes like this, I’ll definitely be home this year for Christmas, but then something comes up and money is tight and you just can’t. And then you say, well I will DEFINITELY be home for next Christmas, and then it rolls around again and you didn’t make it. And it’s a real bummer. Holiday’s are a time to really bond and spend time with the people you love the most, so of course it’s a sting of sadness when everyone you love isn’t near. It’s so easy to think you’ll be back for everything and won’t miss anything, but then weddings and baby showers go by, and you only have so much money in your budget that you have to pick and chose. In 2016, I lost two of my closest friends in a one month span. Oh my heart. I flew back for both funerals. I feel a lot of regret moving in hindsight, knowing I could have had more time. But that is just how life works, right?

Overall, the ride has had a lot of ups and downs, but with time, the sting of being homesick goes away more and more. Of course I still have my days where I sulk around thinking about all my friends and family, but I’m truly blessed to have a new experience. I’d like to head back to Chicago one of these days, but for now I’m trying to find in this new adventure.