What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from the person you’re the closest to?
Every once in a while you hit the jackpot. Every once in a while the hot metal strikes at that precise moment. Every once in a while atoms collide. Every once in a while the stars align.
That moment happened for me about 10 years ago when I met this amazing woman named Jill. She would eventually bless my world by allowing me to become her husband, and she my wife.
To say I’m lucky is quite an understatement. To be honest, I don’t thing there are words that describe how big of a prize I received when this woman entered my world, but I’m going to try my best to explain.
I was lost. My life had taken a couple wrong turns. My life’s path was not following the course I had hoped for when I entered adulthood. I scampered around a bit, I hopscotched across state lines a few times. I even high-jumped and then hurdled over a few different career choices. All were blazingly unsuccessful. My personal life was spilling over into what was left of my professional life. I don’t want to call it spiraling, but heck it sure felt that way.
I couldn’t get a leg up in anything I did. I was unhappy in failed, after failed relationship. I was unhappy in failed, after failed employment venture. And I was sliding into this slump I kindly refer to now as “The Funk” that was dragging me into a hole that I’m pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to climb out of once I fell in.
I drank a lot of alcohol. Was out at the bars quite often. I spent every penny I had on useless and wasteful things. I slept a lot. I partied. My life was what you might call, not much of a ‘Life’. I got up and wandered aimlessly from task to task with no real purpose.
During the worst of this era in my life I also suffered a life-altering injury that got me hospitalized. This was where I met my first MALE nurse (wait.. guys can be nurses??)
As fate would have it , I took a bit of a leap. I’d love to describe it as a leap of faith, but it was more of a blind fall off of a cliff. I just happened to land on solid ground.
This is where my ‘luck’ started to turn around.
That ‘fall’ was me applying, being accepted and starting nursing school. It was there I met that amazing woman named Jill.
The road traveled during pre-nursing school and eventual nursing school was not a smooth one at all. Not for me personally or professionally. I learned a lot about myself. And some how I learned about this thing called true friendship. Eventually I learned about this thing called Love. The true genuine-article type of love that you only read about in storybooks or see on the screen.
I learned all these things the more and more time I spent with Jill.
Eventually we figured out ourselves, we figured out our relationship and.. yes eventually after much ‘dancing’… we got married.
Oh yeah, we also graduated nursing school.
it was about half a decade later that Jill would teach me the most important lesson ever:
How to never quit.
Not only did she teach me how to NEVER QUIT, be she taught me how to use fear instead of letting fear use you. She ultimately showed me what ‘GRIT’ looks like, and how tears are not a sign of weakness, but are simply the intermission between the fear of failure and the joy of success.
Most nurses are bad at simple math (and I’m only referring to fraction , decimal, and unit conversions as well as second order multiplication and division). Most nurses only use math because their job requires it, and even then most nurses will avoid it like the plague if they can. Once again I’m only referring to the aforementioned mathematical skills.
If a Registered Nurse desires to advance their career (attain their Bachelor’s degree, BSN, or higher) they’ll have to subject themselves to higher order math. More specifically a bachelor’s prepared nurse needs to understand and be able to work through evidenced based research – which utilizes statistics, statistical methods and statistical analyses to help guide evidenced based nursing practice (which ultimately provides the best care possible for patients).
So with that in mind, many nurses who have a deep-seeded fear of math don’t take that leap with their career because of the impending doom of that needed advanced math skill set.
My wife, Jill, was one of those nurses.
She wrestled with the idea of going back to advance her degree, but avoided it many years, because of the dreaded math demon. Eventually the reality of needing her degree for career stability and longevity outweighed her fear of the math demon. So she bit the bullet, jumped into the pool head first and started to tread water.
She successfully avoided the math demon for greater than 2 years during her adult learning adventure. The time frame for successful completion of your BSN as an RN going back to school varies, but usually averages out to be 2 years-ish. Jill successfully, or maybe unsuccessfully dodged the math bullet until her final semester of school. In fact she avoided the dreaded math demon with such accuracy that she planned to spend her last semester doing an independent study and the long-awaited Statistics course, so that she could focus all her energy on slaying that damn math dragon. She already knew it would be a challenge, and she gave herself the wiggle room to take a hit and get back up.
This was one of the sub-lessons she inadvertently taught me. Be prepared. But, not just be prepared, but anticipate. She knew full well this math class was gonna hit her hard, so she cleared her schedule for the battle that lie ahead.
As you can only guess, the ensuing fight was quite nasty. I can still remember the ghost-like fear in her face when she came home after that first week. And how that mask became a permanent fixture on her face for many, many weeks.
I have to bashfully admit something. Math is rather easy for me. I have a fairly strong math background. I took advance mathematics during my first ‘round’ of college when I was an engineering major (for almost 2 years). So while Statistics is not ‘easy’ perse’ I can navigate through it much more efficiently than most.
Then there was the first exam.
She failed it.
Now the fear set in..
While ‘planning’ to have this math course at the end of her scholastic journey seemed like a good idea at the time, now she had to face the concept of potentially not passing the course.
If she didn’t pass the course. She didn’t graduate.
So. No math = no degree.
Let that one sink in a bit.
Here’s a strong-willed, aggressive and driven woman who just got stopped in her tracks by that thing called fear. Heck, it wasn’t fear.. it was down right terror.
So she’s knee-deep into the semester, she can’t turn back. Yet, she can’t seem to move forward either. Statistics is a cumulative course of study. Each prior concept is used to build, establish and explain the next new concept, so on and so forth. So if you don’t grasp and ‘pass’ the first concept… you’re not going to get anything that is presented moving forward.
That thing called fear just outright consumed every cell in her body
I remember that fateful night. A lot of tears. A lot of crying. A lot of screaming. A lot of ‘shoulda-coulda-woulda’s. We talked for hours on end. We talked for days after. These talks continued for almost a week or more. Does she bow out? If she doesn’t bow out… then how does she move forward? While I’m good at math, I wasn’t the greatest resource for her to get back on her feet.
Now you have to know my wife. She doesn’t quit anything. ANTHING. I mean this is a woman who had her house burned to the ground and lost all of her worldly possessions in the middle of nursing school, and she took a day or two to compose herself and just kept plugging away.
I like to joke about it and call her ‘Baby’. I used the “Dirty Dancing” movie reference when Patrick Swayze (rest his soul) says, “Nobody puts baby in a corner”.
My wife is ‘Baby’. Put her in a corner and she comes out fighting.
And that’s just what she did.
She utilized her resources. She enlisted the help of a tutor. She worked a full-time job. She made the time to see a tutor at least once a week, sometimes three times a week (including weekends). She studied nightly. She did practice questions relentlessly.
She kicked things in to high gear. She was on a mission. She had this feverish passion about her that I can only describe as having that ‘fire in your belly’.
‘Baby’ had been pushed into the corner. (and I could hear the sound of the bell… DING. DING. – a weak but appropriate boxing reference)
I can proudly say my wife passed that course and went on to graduate with her bachelors. But here is the amazing part. She not only passed, but she got awarded a letter grade of an A for the class. In fact, by the end of the class, she was helping other students figure out the key class concepts. The very same students that were tutoring her – she was now their tutor.
How about them apples?? (yes, another movie reference – this time from “Good Will Hunting”)
So my wife’s lesson of never quitting helped me get where I am today. I would not have made it through Nurse Practitioner school without her expert guidance and setting an amazing example. Every time I thought I would quit, or give up… I looked at her and was kindly reminded at how quitting is easy, fighting takes true talent.