From Teaching to Nursing

Facebook: 05 May 2011

If I hear one more person say, “Oh, nursing, yeah! You’ll always have a job there,” I think I will scream. If I wanted job security, I already had a decent run with my first bachelor’s degree. Yes, music and arts gets whacked first in school budgets, however, if you are a born and natural teacher, there will always be something to teach. Anyway, here is the latest chapter in the chronicle of how my life has changed dramatically in the past four years

If there has been a theme the past few years, I believe it would be: “Remember, you are on your own time line.”

I don’t remember at what point in my life that time spans and time lines became important for me to follow. It seems that once I turned 21, there was this sense that I had to keep up with others’ expectations, and most of those expectations were imagined by me. I felt as though I was running out of time and that middle age was just around the corner.

My life was moving fast, yet slow. I felt a need to “hurry up and wait.”

In college, I lost my ability to feign enthusiasm for things I couldn’t care less about. I was going to be a music teacher and inspire the coming generations by imparting to them the tools to be musical. I was even going to be a middle school teacher so that I could help my students not have as crappy of a time as I did in public schools. I naively thought that I knew everything I needed to know, but would continue to learn about life more as a hobby rather than a necessity. I mean, I had a college degree and a great paying job (for a teacher). What more did I need?

Half-way through my second year of teaching, something was wrong. I couldn’t do the daily grind and still think that my profession was of utmost importance. The love of music that I had cultivated for almost 10 years wasn’t enough to inspire me to persevere through the daily sludge. Half-way through year three, I almost lost my mind, but only by the grace of God did I make it through until May. I signed my contract for year four because I thought it was what I was supposed to do and with some faculty changes in the building, I thought my major stressors were gone.

Read here and here for some things that happened in the interim.

It has now been three years since I moved to Indiana. I thought by this time I would be finishing up my Masters in Vocal Performance from IU. The rejection letter wasn’t entirely unexpected as I knew the quality of my audition CD was “Fair” at best, but it was the crowning disappointment for everything that 2008 had brought both personally and professionally.

Not to be dismayed, I spent most of 2009 with a willful stubbornness of “I will get into grad school. I will prove to them I’m good enough.” That ended in October when at a voice masterclass I realized I was thinking more about what sort of cookies I wanted to make everyone rather than which aria I wanted to sing.

So then I thought, “Hm, that must mean I should be a pastry chef.” Well, for the latter part of 2009 and all of 2010, I looked for a culinary program that fit with me and some not-so-well thought out goals. I searched schools all over the country, but nothing felt right. I didn’t want to move, again, for something that wasn’t certain.

In January 2011, a couple key things happened. One, I was informed of a choral music opening at a local high school that didn’t have me running and screaming in the opposite direction. I actually said that I would look into it and think about applying for the position. Two, I asked my baking boss for her opinions in finding a school or a decent apprenticeship and only got, “Let me think about that” but no action. Three, I started teaching a vocal basics class at a local church and then an elementary music class for a home school group. So here I was with a bunch of dead ends in baking and some leads back to teaching.

I didn’t intentionally start a look inward for my vocation or calling until February of 2011. Because, what else should you do during Lent except to do a personal and spiritual inventory and pray?

So, I prayed; I asked some friends for input and I started reading 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller (not to be confused with Blue Like Jazz author Don Miller). And just so you know, there is nothing worse than being in your late 20s and feeling as though you are completely floundering in life because it’s completely different than you expected.

I don’t remember when I started thinking about nursing, but I asked a few people about their professional experiences. I thought about my summer at Bradford Woods. I called my friend who asked me to be at two of her home births. And once I made the decision to pursue my training options, I was able to see an advisor and get a plan of action within two weeks. And the more people I tell, the more I am getting affirmation that nursing is a good fit for who I am.

When I asked others’ opinions, I got quite the gamut. But here are a few things that kept appearing:

– Not afraid of hard work/not-so-fun jobs

– Desire to care for people’s basic needs/care and concern for others

– Ability to talk with anyone

– Humor/laughter/a young heart

– Passion for knowledge, truth, and depth

I know that these traits can apply to anything. But here are a few other key points I realized this past year:

– To be successful in ANY aspect of fine arts/performing arts/arts education, you MUST believe that your artistic contribution is vital for your existence and your students/audience. To me music is fun and excellence should be sought out, but music is something I do for me and my sanity – not because I feel the world is dead without my artistic contribution.

– In my bustle to gain approval of others through my music success, I forgot about my fascination for medicine and love for biology and human sciences (which I loved as a preschooler!). I loved the anatomy section of my vocal pedagogy classes and even dragged in the science teacher’s skeleton when teaching posture in my music classes.

– I finally asked myself, “What would I be content doing if I quit fostering fear?”

Unlike “new college grad Laura,” I don’t see nursing as the end all and when I will finally reach a pinochle of understanding. It’s another piece of the puzzle. It’s training that I can use so I’m taking care of the needs that I see in the world. I’ve already had my doubts, but God has provided the needed bits of encouragement through others. And there still is a bit of frustration that I experienced 10 years of adult life before having a better idea of my vocation. And I’m encouraged to start this process because I know that my vocation/calling is flexible rather than limiting. I still want to be a wife and mother, but until then, I have other ways to impact my world that fit with who I am.

So, in about 5-10 years, be on the lookout for a nurse who in a typical day will make a gourmet quiche, go to work (hospital or clinic), and after a climb on the rock wall or ride on the zip line will either teach some music lessons or sing for a church service then enjoy a cup of tea with some friends or family.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Anna P
    Nov 30, 2011 @ 12:41:15

    Good thoughts. Our generation was given to believe that a glorious career awaited us after school was through. But most people don’t have careers, they have jobs (if that, in this economy). And even if one does have a career, it doesn’t mean that they find it fulfilling.

    I am hoping you’ll love your job as a nurse and I think it’s encouraging that you realize that it is a way for you to share your talents to serve others, and not the be-all end-all of your existence.



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