After a year and a half of pre-reqs at BCCC trying to retrain my brain how to think scholastically again after 15 years in the workforce as a designer and illustrator, I was so excited to finally start working toward my BSN at Hopkins and get moving. Classes were over, and then late August appeared in about 6 seconds. Next step: orientation. Then, the first week of classes were on, and I was in the organization zone of hardcopy binders and separators and folders for each week’s material on my Mac. ‘I can totally stay on top of this’ was my mantra. I was going to have time for my daughter and husband, yoga for extra energy and focus, and after tucking my little girl into bed, I’d move on to my homework. I’ve mentored, directed, created, proposed and more in my former life, so if I can juggle 10 client projects in one day how complex can a semester of nursing school paperwork and commitment to study be?
Weeks two and three. The binders are still intact. The first exams are creeping up, but I feel like I’ve done the work, stayed on top of projects, studying and my family, so yes, I’m feeling the stress, but its manageable. Eleven weeks to go.
Weeks four, five and six. Yea… the binders… getting to be a slight disappointment. Some have seen me at times having this frantic “no, I didn’t see that on Blackboard!” look upon my face. Coffee cups are now a permanent fixture in my hand. The weather is getting slightly cooler now, the mornings are getting shorter as my daughter wakes at 630am, and I probably went to bed a few hours before she peeked in saying in her soft, high, little voice, “good morning, mama!” My health… permasinusitis starts. It’s not an official medical diagnosis, but it’s my battered immune system saying to me, “Look, freak show, if you don’t get a decent nights rest, this is the way its going to be, ok? Learn to love vaporub, cough drops and large quantities of caffeine or get with the sleep program, since you’re going to be taking care of humans soon in clinical.” Eight weeks to go.
Weeks seven through ten. Binders. Let’s just say it was a fun idea at one point. Coffee? My lovely best friend. Nutrition? Nutri-Grain bars are healthy, right? The majority of my exams are behind me, but the pressure is still on, and I’m functioning. My three-year old daughter says goodnight to me by telling me to go study my books with a small sigh and a hug. I stare into her little eyes and question the value in all of this time away from her on weekends at the library, but she’s so encouraging. My husband has been the Mr. Mom of the century. I never had to dive into the wash basket for an unwashed scrub. I’m appreciative and full of guilt, but too tired to continue the thought. Four weeks to go.
Weeks eleven through final exams. I am officially looking back at my former career as a “Type A” Art Director who gets things done on time, on budget with happy faces everywhere. I miss that confidence, the clean desk, knowing my tasks for the day and what clients or colleagues are going to ask me before they have the thought in their own head… but this is the first semester, right? It’s supposed to be high pressure, and I haven’t been in college since the early 90s, when the movie Clueless was released, OJ just began in criminal court and the average gallon of gas was $1.15, so of course this is overwhelming and understandable I feel like a pile of pale goo in scrubs with a permanent hair dent from my hair band or weird clip thing. Although… I probably consumed more information in fourteen weeks than I did in five years of my work life, and I got through it. I made it through finals, and now here I sit on my comfy couch in Baltimore in the late evening sipping a glass of wine and writing this blog entry reflecting on the whirlwind that was my first semester, my daughter and husband asleep upstairs (I’m sure very happy I’m back until January 22).
I sound negative about it all perhaps, but even though I felt so disorganized and tired by the end of the semester, I absorbed and retained so much, performed well and met some absolutely amazing people. Many students gravitated toward each other in support. We vented, we laughed, and we tested each other over and over about systems and assessments, exam objectives and sign offs, took snap shots in lab of our amazing wheals as we injected ourselves with saline and posted them on Facebook… and overall… created a community. People from all over the country and the world came here, and women and men I would have never had the good fortune of ever meeting are friends now.
If any prospective students are reading my incredibly long-winded entry, I just have to say, it’s a fast ride. Make friends early and talk to one another, study together and vent when you have to… and you will. Get a good night’s sleep… every night. Realize there’s always time to sit in the courtyard, listen to the fountain and breathe… and no you aren’t wasting time when you could be studying. If you can’t participate in extracurricular activities because you need to focus on studying (and there are so many fun things to do), be ok with that. Eat better than you did before school started. Minimize your materials in your backpack, or it will negatively weigh you down physically and mentally. And finally, realize that whatever you’re feeling, whether confident or crazy through your first semester while asking yourself if all of this work is truly worth it… I’d say yes every time I asked myself that same question over and over. I’m 25% closer to what I want to do. It’s a small piece of my life to ready me for greater challenges and amazing rewards. It’s definitely all worth it.