I’m not going to lie, I eat everything. Cottage cheese is probably one of my favorite foods. However, there once was a time in my life when diet restrictions were a big part of my day-to-day. Recently, I’ve let go of that, thanks to a little concept called “anti-dieting”. Now my life is changed and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Keep reading to learn about what anti-dieting is, and how it’s helped me.
What is Anti-Dieting?
I first heard about anti-dieting when listening to this episode of “Stuff You Should Know”
The concept of anti-dieting is basically just saying, “stop dieting”. Like literally, stop worrying about cutting out certain food groups, and just eat what you want, when you want. This doesn’t necessarily mean to binge on candy and junk, but if you want to you can.
That’s the thing about anti-dieting, there are no rules. No restrictions, no shame, no guilt. You just live your life and let go of the fear of certain food groups.
The thought process is, if you just eat mindfully and pay attention to the way your body feels, you most likely won’t even want to binge on junk food because you’ll be satisfied. You can enjoy the foods you like, but since nothing is off-limits, you likely won’t be tempted to overindulge.
My experiences with dieting
I’m not exactly sure where I was in my wellness journey when I initially listened to this podcast, but I know I was definitely not okay with an “all foods diet”. I feared dairy, I constantly told myself that I needed to do a Whole30 detox again soon, I often avoided gluten for reasons that I don’t even know, and the worst part? When unhealthy foods were put in from of me, I had zero control and often binged on them and felt awful after the fact.
As a high schooler, I went through a short phase during which I mainly ate egg whites, spinach, and pickles. I obsessed over low-calorie foods and drank tons of diet coke, striving to be extremely skinny. Back then, it felt to me that many of the celebrities and public figures in pop culture were stick skinny, and an anorexic appearance was collectively strived for. Luckily, this was just a short phase of disordered eating and I wouldn’t say that it really got out of control for me. I was able to sort it out on my own and it didn’t last long.
Flash forward many years, I tried my first Whole30 diet when I was 22. I started this diet with the goal of feeling good. Whole30 is a super restrictive diet that lasts for 30 days. During these 30 days, you don’t eat any: dairy, grains, gluten, sugar, alcohol, soy, and legumes.
Basically, you eat a lot of vegetables, meat, and potatoes and always strive to buy high quality, organic foods.
A lot of great things came from my experience doing Whole30. I loved the way that it taught me to really read ingredient labels when grocery shopping, it showed me the important difference of buying organic, and I really did feel good during some of it.
However, this good feeling didn’t really last and such a restrictive diet just isn’t something I could stick to long term.
On top of that, the strictness of the rules kind of triggered some overly controlling and OCD behavior from me. I obsessed over the specific rules and took it super seriously. If I felt like I overate I would mentally beat myself up over it, and if I ever felt bloated I would get super frustrated.
In hindsight, doing Whole30 brought to the surface those same old disordered eating patterns I experienced in high school, but at the time I hadn’t realized it at all.
I’ll never forget when I figured out that the salad dressing I had been eating almost weekly, from one of my favorite restaurants, actually contained soy when I previously thought it hadn’t. I was on day 28 and I felt like all of my hard work was ruined.
“Have I completely ruined everything?” I asked in the Facebook support group, after confessing my noncompliance. I felt so much guilt and shame, and literally cried for hours! THIS IS NOT HEALTHY.
What I loved that they pointed out in the podcast, is the way that diets are often considered a “healthy” thing to do, but the reality is, dieting often leads to very unhealthy patterns in terms of mental health. Dieting can even cause a person to eat less healthy, because you’re often more likely to derail and go crazy after you’ve been restricting yourself. I’ll always remember “the last supper” before starting a Whole30 cleanse when I’d binge on pizza or pasta to celebrate my last night eating carbs for a month.
Something else to note is that when we binge on foods and emotionally eat, it’s usually related to a deeper-rooted issue. Anti-dieting encourages you to look deeper before you eat something you’re craving, if you’re wanting to eat because you’re upset about something else, the food may not be the solution. On the contrary, if you just simply want the food, you can go enjoy it and not worry!
Into an anti-dieting era
These days, I eat whatever I want and it honestly feels really good. I’m not going to Mcdonald’s every day or anything, but I’m also not bending over backward to comply with any type of diet rules. I feel free, relaxed, and accepting of myself and the foods that I like.
Sometimes what you eat goes a little deeper than you may realize. I know that my mental health has been negatively affected by dieting in the past and at the time I was oblivious. It wasn’t until I started to let go of restricting myself that I realized the negative effects it had on me.
I still try to eat well. I focus more on buying high-quality foods (less processed, organic, etc.) and definitely eating vegetables and whole foods frequently, but I’m more aware of my mental health and the way dieting can affect it. Basically, I eat what makes me feel good and some days that’s a salad while other days it’s a milkshake!
Thanks to one of my nearest and dearest friends, the Enneagram — “an ancient personality typing system” — has become a very common topic of discussion amongst a certain group of my friends. We don’t see each other all that often, but when we do, we almost always talk about the enneagram at some point.
After literal years of saying, “I have got to take this quiz”, I’ve finally delved into “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile and was (and still am) completely blown away.
A few months ago, I was out to dinner with that certain group of friends I mentioned above and of course, the topic of the enneagram came up, as it always does.
“My husband is a type ___, so that’s why he does ___”
“I’m a type __ with a __ wing”
“What type am I?”
That final question was the one that always, always got asked.
It was guessed that I may be a type 6, because it seemed fitting. After being told some of the characteristics of a type 6 (anxious, loyaI) I said, “That does sound like me!”
I went home after dinner, took the quiz, and was shocked by the results:
I started to read, “The deadly sin of the type 4 is envy.” My shock deepened. Envy? I know way better than to envy anyone, there’s no way this is right.
But then, I started to think.
Here are a few of the ways that the enneagram has deepened my understanding of myself and those around me.
It caused me to think about envy/jealousy in a new way
Yes, it’s true, I do know better than to envy people. I know that everyone lives a different life, filled with its own unique struggles, so to envy someone else just doesn’t make sense. It won’t get you anywhere, there’s no point, it’s a waste of time, it’s unproductive.
But, is it true that I don’t envy anyone ever? Not necessarily, but before I started to really think about it, that’s what I wanted to believe.
Before I asked myself if I envied anyone, I had always just assumed that I didn’t simply because I knew better.
I guess it is possible to know better than to do something but still do it sometimes. Here I was, all I had done was take an online quiz and read briefly and I was already opening my mind, becoming more aware of my thoughts, and shifting my perspective.
Personality is a mask
“Human beings are wired for survival. As little kids we instinctually place a mask called personality over parts of our authentic self to protect us from harm and make our way in the world. Made up of innate qualities, coping strategies, conditioned reflexes and defense mechanisms, among lots of other things, our personality helps us know and do what we sense is required to please our parents, to fit in and relate well to friends, to satisfy the expectations of our culture and to get our basic needs met.”
– Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You
I was less than 30 minutes into this audiobook and I was already mind blown by this concept of how we wear our personalities like a mask to protect ourselves. I instantly thought about some of my own insecurities that I was currently grappling with: questioning friendships, fearing that I act overly confident to compensate for insecurities, laughing at my pain.
According to Cron and Stabile, as we age, our personalities become so reflexive and natural that they begin to merge with who we really are, making it difficult to distinguish the true self from the version of ourselves that we present to the world.
“Now we no longer have a personality; our personality has us!”
– Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You
Understanding our authentic self brings us closer to God
“May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.”
– Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You
The concept that instantly drew me into the enneagram and helped me fully understand the seeming-obsession that some people have with it, was the idea of knowing oneself to get closer to God.
We all know that it’s in our nature to be flawed; no human is perfect. Through understanding the enneagram, we are understanding ourselves in the context of God’s creation of us. He crafted us all to be perfectly imperfect. Rather than try to change or fix our flaws, the enneagram motivates us to look our flaws in the face and understand where they come from.
Through getting to know our authentic, true selves, we get closer to the person that God created us to be, and in turn, closer with God.
The message that most deeply resonated with me: Nothing is missing.
As a type 4, I’m a deeply emotional person. I’m prone to mood swings and I often feel left out. Sometimes when I’m upset, I look at others and think that life is easier for them or that they have something that I don’t have. When I feel off, I search for the answer by thinking of changes I can make in my life. I’ve repetitively found myself trying out new diets, cutting out caffeine, adding a new supplement, or cutting back on alcohol, because I’m trying to feel better in some way.
Although these are healthy switches to make, I was searching for external solutions to internal problems.
Fours are moody and can sometimes identify with their feelings, thinking that they are their feelings. This can cause insecurity and uncertainty.
“Fours need to hear this loud and clear: there’s nothing missing. It may be hard to believe, but God didn’t ship them here with a vital part absent from their essential makeup. Fours arrived on life’s doorstep with the same equipment everyone else did. The kingdom is inside them too. Everything they need is here.”
– Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You
I could type and reread that quote over and over and it still gives me chills because of how deeply it resonates with me. When I find myself brainstorming what I need to buy next or writing out long lists of goals or longing for material items, I say to myself “nothing is missing” and these words instantly make me feel so calm and accepting of the moment. I’ll have to add this to my list of mantras.
In the past, when I’ve notice myself having stronger feelings than those around me, I think, “What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy?” But now I understand that I’m just a highly emotional person and not everyone is.
I’ve definitely only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding myself in the context of the enneagram, but I’m so excited to continue this journey. I definitely think I am a type 4 but some aspects of types 1 and 9 resonate with me as well.
Overall, I’m looking at everyone around me in a different light because I’m healing my relationship with myself. I’m starting to have a deeper understanding of my flaws, insecurities, and relationships and by accepting myself more, I’m more easily able to accept those around me.
For me, breastfeeding was one (of the many) paradoxical aspects of motherhood that is virtually impossible to put into words. It somehow felt like a long, drawn out stage while it was happening, yet now that it’s over, I’m looking back and feeling like it flashed before my eyes in a matter of seconds.
Kind of like those first few days at home alone with my newborn baby; she had only been on this earth for a matter of days, and every moment of every day felt so new yet so natural and instinctual at the same time.
Those days felt long. I’d factor in little rituals, like 2:00 afternoon coffee and TV time, to help break up the day. I definitely wasn’t wishing those moments away, I loved them, but they were extremely challenging. Although striving to stay in the moment as much as possible, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some days when I was counting down the hours until Ray got home.
At the time, I could feel the momentous nature of this huge milestone in my life, it was all so intense and real. Although it feels like the newborn stage was just yesterday, somehow it feels as if I’ve lived a lifetime since then. When I see old photos of myself, during pregnancy or in those early months after the birth — I feel like I see a different person.
That’s one thing that I love so much about being a mom — the way it’s so indescribably special. There’s so much wonder in the uniqueness of raising a tiny person, and I’m so blessed to be able to experience it firsthand.
This past week marks a bittersweet milestone in mine and my daughter’s life: the end of the breastfeeding stage. Below I’ve summarized some of the highlights of this stage that took up the last 17 and a half months; how it started, the maintenance of keeping it going for as long as we did, and the weaning process.
Everyone’s journey is different, I don’t intend to give any advice and I truly hope that nothing about this blog post triggers you.
Beginning stages of breastfeeding and the first latch
When I was pregnant, I had a birth plan. I was going to have a fully natural, unmedicated birth. Once the baby arrived, he/she (we didn’t know the gender at the time) was to be placed on my chest immediately to establish a good bond and initiate breastfeeding.
To be honest, I was really nervous about breastfeeding. I had read about many of the benefits of breastfeeding, the challenges that come along with it, and why many women quit sooner than necessary. It didn’t sound easy and I feared failure.
The birth didn’t go at all as planned and my daughter was born via C-section. The moments after she was born, I laid flat and numb on a surgical table while my abdomen was stitched back together on the other side of a curtain. After being held by a doctor, nurse, and respiratory therapist, my daughter was finally held by her father. He held her near my head and I put my hand on her face. It was the only physical contact I could give her and it just didn’t feel like enough.
I was incredibly anxious in those immediate moments. Finally, she was handed to me and I got to hold her for what felt like about 15-20 minutes. A nurse tried to help me breastfeed, without success, while my daughter screamed, and then she was taken away again.
She wasn’t actually handed back to me until about 3 hours after she was born. This is when I finally breastfed her for the first time.
Overcome with emotions and relief, I was finally able to hold her in my arms and everything felt right in the world. Finally, you’re here.
I wouldn’t say that breastfeeding was easy for us (I don’t think it’s easy for anyone), but I was always able to maintain a supply, and the milk naturally came in quickly after birth. My daughter never spit up much or had a lot of acid reflux, another blessing.
Being a working mom and returning to work only 2 months after giving birth is what presented the most challenges for me. My goal was to breastfeed for at least a year but I had a lot of fear that it wouldn’t be possible, given the demands of my job.
Maintaining a supply as a working mom
The first two months of breastfeeding were pretty straightforward, but it was when I started working that it became a roller coaster of emotions. My job was hectic and I had little time to pump during my shifts. I’d run to and from the pumping room that was three floors away, in a haste. My supply definitely fluctuated a lot, but somehow we always pulled it off despite almost running out of pumped milk multiple times.
I started my job with a good supply of milk in our freezer but after about 6 months, that supply was nearly gone since I always pumped less milk than what my daughter would consume in a given day. There were a number of evenings when I got home from work and we didn’t have enough milk in the fridge to cover the following day. I remember crying over this issue many times over. The uncertainty of whether we would have enough milk or whether I’d have to go buy some type of formula was emotionally exhausting.
One day, I called out of work to spend the next day pumping between feedings in an effort to rebuild the supply. Most days, I would pump before work, as soon as I got home, then I’d stay up late and pump again at night so I had milk to add to the supply. I’ll never forget those early morning 5AM pumping sessions on the couch, chugging coffee in a desperate attempt to keep my eyes open.
Maintaining a supply through so much stress was not easy at all. I worked really hard at this. After my birth plan didn’t work out, I was determined to hang on to anything that I could keep in my control. Breastfeeding felt like a way to make up for the loss of a natural birth, it just felt like something I had to do; for my daughter but also for myself.
Had I not pulled this off, I probably would have been extremely disappointed. I could have fallen into negative self-talk and told myself that I wasn’t enough or capable. I was setting myself up for disappointment by setting extremely high expectations and putting immense pressure on myself to deliver. As a mom, I’ve really struggled with finding acceptance and wanting to be in control all of the time. Although it happened to work out in my favor, I’d try to relax a little more in the future.
Breastfeeding past 12 months + the weaning process
I quit my job around the same time that my daughter turned 1. Once I got to that milestone, I started to consider when I’d want to stop.
I didn’t feel ready to stop quite yet and the fact that I didn’t have to pump anymore made it even better (there was a time during my nursing career when I briefly considered weaning her earlier than my one-year milestone because I was so sick of pumping at work).
At one year old, my daughter would nurse a few times a day in-between meals, before naps and bedtime to fall asleep, and a couple of times overnight as well. I wouldn’t say that I nursed her round-the-clock but she was still dependent enough that going into the weaning process was daunting.
At some point, night nursing went from: my daughter waking up briefly, 2-3 times in a given night, me feeding her, and us all going back to sleep; to: my daughter waking up 2-3 times per HOUR and only sleeping when she’s latched. I wasn’t able to sleep while she was latched so when that started, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and slowly start the process of weaning.
In the beginning, we tried to cut her off cold turkey and it didn’t work at all. She’d wake up to nurse and we would try to just comfort her by holding her and rocking her. I’d go lay on the couch for a while and she would scream and scream while Ray tried to comfort her. Eventually I’d cave in and just go feed her so we could all get some sleep. At that point, I decided we needed to try a different approach.
She was about 15 months old when I bought some plant-based toddler formula (it just felt like the best thing to start with in my opinion; I wasn’t really ready to try cow’s milk yet) and decided to start supplementing some feedings during the day.
Also, during this time, my daughter started to go back to her babysitter two days a week for a few hours while I worked. While she was gone, I decided I was no longer going to pump. I’d send her with a bottle of the toddler formula and some food to eat and let this help her get used to less and less of the boob.
Slowly but surely, she stopped breastfeeding during the day. I started by only breastfeeding her when she’d ask for it and offer the bottles first. Sometimes she’d take a bottle, other times she wouldn’t. There was one time when she caught a cold and I digressed and fed her normally for a few days because I wanted her to get the extra nutrients.
Through some kicking and screaming, I was able to get her used to falling asleep for naps and bedtime without being nursed to sleep. This was a huge breakthrough for us and eventually led to her only nursing once during the day, around 4PM, and then over night when she’d wake up.
We maintained this pattern for a couple of weeks. I felt like it was nice to drag it out a bit. That way, everyone got a bit of a break from the stress of weaning before we delved into it even more to tackle night weaning.
One day she didn’t ask to nurse in the afternoon so I didn’t offer it, and that was it, no more breastfeeding during the day and all that was left was night weaning.
I approached night weaning with a similar approach: I noticed about how many times she would nurse overnight and intended to slowly drop one feeding at a time until she was down to none. In the beginning she was waking up about 4 times.
I started to slowly cut down on how many times I’d nurse her until we were down to nothing. She just got used to being held to be comforted rather than being nursed.
Heading into a post-breastfeeding era
Overall, it took approximately 3 months to fully wean my daughter. For us, it was the perfect amount of time. It was long enough that it didn’t feel abrupt or traumatic and we both had plenty of time to process it.
My biggest fear going into the weaning process was that my daughter and I wouldn’t feel close anymore or that she’d be mad at me for cutting her off from this source of comfort. Luckily, she still crawls into my arms, hugs me and loves to be held by me — we’re just as close as we’ve always been.
On the second night without breastfeeding, I thought to myself, Wow, I’m really never going to breastfeed this child again, and it made me emotional.
It was surprising that our relationship didn’t feel much different, even though such a huge aspect of it had changed. I also wasn’t nearly as sad as I had expected myself to be, which tells me that the timing was just right.
If I’ve learned anything it’s to take more photos. I’m looking back and feeling like I have hardly any breastfeeding photos, when I thought I had taken a bunch. I know I can’t hang on to every memory, but I still wish I would have documented this journey just a little better.
Another thing I’ve learned from this journey: patience and determination. There were many times when I doubted my ability to continue breastfeeding for a year, but I somehow made it past all of the obstacles and succeeded at my goal. I feared the weaning process and how it would effect our relationship but I recognized when the time was right, and we made it happen.
Sometimes these types of milestones sit before me and I stand back with fear, but now in hindsight, I realize that the power to overcome has been within me all along. I’ve also been learning to find acceptance when things feel out of my control as a mom, although I’m definitely still working on it.
If you told me one year ago that I’d be making a comfortable income working from home, freelancing, in the near future, I would not have believed you. It was probably around this time last year when I started to feel called to write. Yes, it was that simple, I felt a pull to be creative, and I just went with it. I started by jotting down 10 words a day in a journal.
Then more words started to come to me, and I kept writing. Eventually, I decided I wanted to share my writing so I started this blog and it’s been growing ever since. I initially saw my blog as a hobby (it still is) but I did not at all expect writing to become a source of income. I thought, “yeah, it’d be cool to write a book one day but there’s no way that will be attainable for me anytime soon.”
Yet somehow, here I sit. At my little desk where I’ve worked part-time for the last 4 months. I still have a ways to go, but I’ve gained valuable time with my young daughter, the time I’ve needed to focus on my mental health and personal growth, the ability to make money doing something I find interesting and enjoyable, and I’m able to afford to do all of the things I enjoy.
I’ve become much more aware of my finances and learned how to budget, and if you ask me, it’s only up from here in terms of my income. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that this is possible! If I can do it, anyone can. So, how did I do it? Today I’m sharing with you the story of how I got into freelancing, and what I’ve learned so far.
The right amount of hard work + good timing
I think my success as a freelancer stemmed from a combination of things, but ultimately, good timing, determination, and even a little desperation all came together to lead me where I am today. A few months before I quit my job as a nurse, I started to contemplate it. I was realizing that my job was just way too stressful for me to handle and after starting a new one and still not feeling much better, I just knew I had to take a step back. I didn’t want to go back to restaurant work but I needed to make some type of money.
I had been writing for my blog for a couple of months at this point and I was starting to realize my love for writing. I had a mutual friend who worked from home as a writer and was in the process of rebranding her personal business. I was so unclear on what she did for work but I was definitely intrigued. So, I reached out. She shared with me about how she got started at freelancing, through an app called Upwork.
She inspired me, to say the least. “Anyone can do this, don’t go back to school,” she told me. So, I went for it, I started my profile on Upwork and started to browse job postings. Pretty early on, I got my first writing job. It was a random blog post about a topic I didn’t find interesting at all, and it paid $16. I wrote it and got a 5 star review.
Flash forward to a couple of months later, once I’ve quit my job. The mutual friend I mentioned above read my blog post about it and was impressed. She offered me a position writing some articles for her copywriting business. It started slow but has since evolved into my main place for writing work. I write consistent articles for 3 of her clients, and have even taken the lead on one, creating monthly schedules for the client’s blog.
During this time, I was simultaneously applying for and completing additional freelancing jobs in Upwork as well. Each month was sporadic and unpredictable. I never knew how much money I’d make and to be honest, in the first few months I didn’t make much money at all. Luckily, nurses make good money and my final paycheck was enough to cover my bills for 3 months, so I had some time to get things rolling.
My first few months of freelancing were definitely stressful at times and I dealt with lots of insecurities and self-doubt. I even questioned my own judgment at times, but ultimately pushed past it all and kept going.
Because of the level of desperation that I felt, I was determined to impress every client. I never wanted to push a deadline, or even be on time. I always strived to deliver projects early when I was first starting out (well, I still do). I’m always aiming to be humble, yet confident in my skills as a writer and so far, it’s worked out well in my favor. My clientele has grown and remained consistent.
Using my customer service skills and learning to accept criticism
Strong communication has been a big player in my success as a copywriter. There have been many times when I’ve had to ask questions to make sure I’m clear on what a client is looking for and I’ve had to jump on sudden zoom calls when it wasn’t exactly super convenient for me. But I’ve always been driven to make this freelancing career happen for myself and that’s what’s motivated me to go out of my comfort zone many times over. You have to show that you care so that people want to hire you, and that is the case with any job (not just freelancing).
I’ve definitely run into situations where people weren’t super keen on what I’ve written for them. By being okay with accepting criticism, it’s helped me work with people to get a project to where they wanted it. This has helped me always receive 5-star reviews in Upwork (even when the project wasn’t perfect on the first try) and in turn, continue getting more and more job offers.
I’ve utilized the valuable customer service skills that I learned during my 7 year stint working in the restaurant business to help keep clients happy and communicate clearly, even when clients aren’t always the nicest.
Most importantly, I’ve had to learn to be okay with criticism, which isn’t always the easiest. When you spend hours pouring into a writing piece that you think they’re going to love and then you’re sent tons of revisions, it can feel defeating but you just have to accept it and keep trying. Sometimes you work on something continuously and they still aren’t happy in the end, and that can suck but that’s also just a part of life.
You truly can’t please everyone and you have to learn when to draw the line. I had to personally cut ties with a client once because they were expecting too much from me. I told her she needed a more experienced writer for the job, and she responded well (and left me a 5-star review in the end!)
My perspective on money has shifted drastically
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a freelancer is that I truly do not need nearly as much money as I once thought I did. Sure, it will be amazing when my income is so high that I can save tons of money, spend on myself all the time, and splurge on family vacations (those days are coming!) But in order to pay my bills, afford groceries, and have a little leftover for spending, I really don’t need much more than $1,500 per month. I was making almost triple this amount as a nurse and hardly saved any money back then. I would never write a budget and I hardly ever checked my bank accounts. I would wrack up a credit card bill then just pay it off each payday and rarely had much leftover.
Now I’m constantly aware of how much money I have in savings, checking, and I’ve even added money to a retirement account. I’ve fully paid off my car and I’ve been able to keep my credit card bills low and manageable. I’m more satisfied now with a fraction of the income that I once had because my quality of life is so much better.
I’m going to write a full blog post soon about money and how much I make freelancing (in detail), so be on the lookout for that if you’re interested!
So that’s the gist of how I got started as a freelancer, and as my career grows, I’m so happy to continue sharing this journey with you. Are you happy with your current source of income? If you aren’t, you don’t have to settle. Leave questions and thoughts in the comments!
This month felt like a tightrope walk, an intricate maze, like flailing in unforgiving waters just trying to stay afloat as waves keep crashing overhead, over and over again. It’s funny because I remember feeling bored in February. I didn’t have as much writing work as I would have liked to, life felt a little monotonous and I wished for more. More obligations, more time with friends, more opportunities to make money.
Let’s just say, “be careful what you wish for” is veryyy appropriate right now. It was the day before Valentine’s day when my fiancé, Ray received a text from our landlord. It basically stated that we had to move out in a month because she suddenly had to sell the condo that we were living in. We started looking at rentals and contemplated buying the place ourselves. This hectic moment of uncertainty was unsettling. Feeling like our housing was insecure when we have a baby to care for was super uncomfortable – I felt more motivated than ever to own my own place and the more I looked around the more I thought, well this place isn’t that bad.
So, we decided to buy it. We filled out a mortgage application, got approved and the process began. Round-the-clock emails from loan officers, texts from realtors, and coordinating home inspections and repairs, just scratches the surface of how involved this process was. It was definitely super exciting but it was a lot to think about. Every day was filled with decision making, corresponding, and communicating (three things that I happen to find exhausting).
In addition to all this, March happened to be my busiest month yet as a copywriter. This was a huge blessing and a moment I had been waiting for. I was ready to deliver some of my best work. I had over $1,000 worth of work lined up before the month even began and I’d be writing my first ever full website copy which felt like a big step. I was stoked.
Less than one week into the month I started to develop a UTI. I tried to treat it myself and it just kept getting worse. When I started to have unbearable kidney pain, I took the plunge and went to the doctor to start antibiotics. The stress and anxiety of going to a doctor was enough to set me back for weeks. I hate doctors and I hate taking antibiotics but I was afraid I had no choice. I wasn’t trying to end up with a systemic infection that would land me in the ER.
I felt alone in dealing with this, probably because I literally was. I was lucky enough that my daughter was at daycare on the day when the symptoms got really bad, so that gave me time away from being a mom so I could rest. But I felt scared and alone. I really wanted Ray to come home and take care of me but he couldn’t and it really wasn’t truly necessary. I just wanted company and to feel supported.
I started the antibiotics and they worked quickly. But then, I received a message from my daughter’s teacher “just want to inform everyone that there’s been a tummy bug going around” Oh God, I thought. Please spare us.
And He didn’t. After enduring a week of moming, working from home, and fighting off a kidney infection, it was the weekend and I felt like I could breathe a little.
That Saturday, my daughter started to have some let’s just say, “tummy troubles”. All the while, I was still feeling pretty rough from the kidney infection. So, now Ray had to take over caring for her while I rested. I’m glad I had the relief from him but I felt like I needed attention myself (I know I sound selfish but I’m just being honest).
The next day, I woke up and I felt like I had been hit by a train. My entire body was sore and achy, I felt weak, I just felt awful overall. I got up with my daughter in an attempt to let Ray sleep in a little, but only about 15 minutes after getting up I realized I was not equipped to do anything more than lay on the couch and my daughter needed a lot more attention than that. I had to call out for help “wake up, I need you.”
Low and behold, I now had the stomach bug. I felt so weak that I could barely walk from the living room to kitchen, my whole body hurt like crazy and I had no appetite at all. It was a Sunday. I asked Ray if he could stay home from work the next day to help me with our daughter, I felt like there was no way I could do it on my own. He said yes and I felt a huge relief. Finally, I’ll have some help and I can actually rest a little and recover.
That evening, Ray started to feel off and before we knew it, he was vomiting violently in the bathroom. Well, looks like I just lost my caretaker for tomorrow. Luckily, the stomach bug only lasted for about 24 hours so my symptoms were starting to wear off but I wasn’t 100% yet.
I still felt like I needed rest but now I would need to take over as the caretaker and rest just was not in the cards for me. It was really frustrating. I’ve noticed that I can struggle with asking for help, but often when I do ask for help it doesn’t work out in my favor so then I lose faith and I stop asking. Maybe I’m setting too many expectations?
Anyways, so this was the start of the second week of March. We’re all finally recovering from the stomach bug when Ray’s tooth really starts to hurt, he goes to a dentist and it turns out that he’ll be needing a root canal, scheduled for the 29th. “It’s only appropriate to end this month on a high note,” we joked, thinking this was it as far as challenges for the month. Oh, but we were mistaken.
Amid all of these other things going on, we had a home inspection earlier in the month and then had to have multiple repairs done as well. So, most of our weekends were filled with scheduling for repair people to come out, and gathering documents for the loan officers.
Now, going in to the third week of March we said, “this weekend, we are resting”. I was feeling incredibly burnt out, stressed, and drained and I knew that it was related to a lack of rest.
About midweek, we received the unfortunate news that there had been a death in Ray’s family. So, that weekend we would be driving 3 hours to Tampa to be with his family. There was no question or frustration about it, this is something we wanted to do. So, our weekend of rest would just have to wait, again.
And here we are, in the middle of the 4th week of March and I’ve now come down with some type of upper respiratory/sinus infection that I’ve been struggling with for about a week now. This is the third sickness I’ve come down with in only a month, it’s insane. Usually my immune system feels strong. I take (what I think to be) good care of myself, so it’s really frustrating. But I’ve realized that sickness is very humbling. I’m practicing acceptance and just trying to shift my mindset.
Overall, this month has kind of sucked! But there have been some positives too. All of the craziness has been intertwined with plenty of blessings as well. I mean, we’re about to be homeowners, how awesome is that?!
I was also able to deliver all of my copywriting work and all clients seemed to be pleased with the quality of my writing (yay!) I’ve made the most money I’ve ever made in a month as a freelancer, and thanks to my tax return and stimulus check, I am going into April feeling way on top of my finances (credit cards and car loan are fully paid off!)
Here are my three main takeaways from this month that’s leaving me feeling like I’ve been run over by a bus:
1) I am capable
Recently, I was home with my daughter and feeling totally drained. I had a couple of moments where I thought to myself “I truly cannot do this, I cannot be a mom today, I just don’t have the energy” I feared that if I keep pushing myself, then I’m just going to keep feeling sick and my health is going to deteriorate. Then I realized that I literally have no choice. At first, it frustrated and upset me.
But then I took a look around and I realized that even though I was telling myself that I was incapable, I was actually entirely capable. I was feeding my daughter her meals, cleaning her up after, getting her down for her nap, and overall meeting her needs. It might have felt like I wasn’t capable but I actually was and the proof is in the pudding. I was making it, I was moving forward, her needs were met! I need to remind myself of this more often. Sometimes a negative mindset can totally fool you and alter your reality.
2) Slowing down is vital
Some days it feels impossible to actually rest. But you have to just do it when you can. I actually laid down with my daughter and napped with her the other day for the first time in a very long time. It took me a while to fall asleep because I kept contemplating whether I should get up or not. I kept thinking of the things I needed to/wanted to do and worrying a little. But then I kept telling myself, “no, those things will get done eventually, right now you need to rest.” I feel like a lot of the health issues I’ve dealt with this month have been related to my restless mentality. I take great care of myself in a lot of ways, but one area where I struggle is with slowing down. I don’t let myself rest enough, I spend a lot of time rushing around, multitasking, and I also don’t always manage my stress well. You could eat all the veggies in the world but if you’re letting stress take over, you’re still doing damage and most likely sabotaging all that other hard work you’re putting in to take care of yourself.
So, I’m reminding myself that rest is vital. I have no choice but to rest, even though it doesn’t always feel like slowing down is an option. If that means dropping what I’m doing, putting things off for later, accepting a messy house, or letting the laundry pile up – then I’m just going to let it happen. Because if I’m not cared for, then I can’t function and my whole family suffers. It’s actually kind of a beautiful thing to be relied on so heavily by others, it feels like a lot of pressure some days but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
3) I’m not alone
It’s easy to feel alone and isolated sometimes. Some days I started to feel bad for myself “I have no support/no help/etc.” The reality is, I am not alone, but I struggle with asking for help. I need to be more vocal to my loved ones when I feel like I’m struggling because there is some support there, I just have to ask for it because no one can read my mind.
I’m realizing that acceptance really is the key to happiness. It’s easy to be avoidant sometimes. Looking forward to the future is exciting, traveling and getting out into the world is awesome, but if you can’t feel happy sitting at home doing nothing then you’re probably avoiding something that needs to be faced.
So, how was your month? Hopefully, a little better than mine! What are your goals going into April? Let me know in the comments & as always, thanks for reading. ❤️
I’ll never forget the time I was talking with a girl from Germany when I was 6 months pregnant. I was explaining to her that I had recently graduated from nursing school and my plan was to take 6 to 8 weeks off after giving birth, a typical maternity leave in the U.S. I also told her that I had recently had a job interview for a night shift position at a hospital that was about an hour away from my home and I was really hoping to get the job.
She was appalled by everything that was coming out of my mouth.
“You’re going to drive an hour to and from work and work overnight? With a newborn baby at home? Only 6 weeks off?”
Her genuine concern and my nonchalance about something so justifiably alarming is the perfect representation of how maternity leave in the U.S. is a joke. Except, it’s not funny.
The United States — despite being one of the leading countries in the world — is so painfully behind when it comes to maternity leave support and postpartum resources for mothers (and fathers).
“How long do women take off after having a baby in Germany?” I had asked her.
The answer to this is that in Germany, all working women are entitled to a minimum of 14 weeks paid leave if they become pregnant. There is also the option for the mother or father to take an extended parental leave of up to 24 months, during which they are entitled to 14 months of an allowance (paid by the government) and their employer cannot terminate them during this time.
A 2019 study from UNICEF, “Are the world’s richest countries family-friendly?” compares the maternity leave policies of some of the richest countries in the world. Included is a table with country names going down one row and rows with the following headings: “paid leave available to mothers”; “paid leave reserved for fathers”. I scrolled allll the way down to the bottom to find the United States, the only country on the list with zeros across the board.
That’s right, the United States does not offer any form of paid leave for new mothers and fathers and women only get 6 weeks of guaranteed unpaid leave from a job before they are at risk of termination.
Some jobs offer their own private benefits for mothers that may be better and some states have issued state mandated maternity leave policies, but if you’re not one of the women who has a job with good benefits or lives in a state with better policies? You’re simply out of luck.
My experience with postpartum recovery
Before my child left the womb I was talking about getting back to work. Mainly because I was in between jobs and getting ready to start my career. I waited tables up until my due date, gave birth a week later, and started my first nursing job exactly 8 weeks after my daughter was born. I was lucky enough to go into my “maternity leave” with some money in savings and a paid off credit card, but I still didn’t have much wiggle room financially so I was really ready to get back to work and start making money again.
No one warned me about the complete culture shock that I would feel when I transitioned from being a full time student to being a full time nurse; and now there was a baby thrown in the mix. I went from pregnant waitress, to registered nurse with a kid in just over 2 months. It was a huge identity shift to just cram into such a short time period. I rushed right through a huge transition in my life as if none of it mattered. So it’s no surprise that I dealt with crippling anxiety shortly into this transition that inevitably led to me quitting my job entirely.
This is such typical U.S. culture (in my opinion). We literally work our lives away and can even become completely oblivious to what we’re sacrificing in the process because we’re so fixated on working, making money, and chasing a dream. We fool ourselves into believing that our jobs can fill some type of void.
Many women don’t even take the 8 weeks that I took off, many only take 6. My partner was offered no paternity leave benefits from his job so he used some of his PTO to take one week off.
I was also in a hurry to get back into running, I had set a goal to run a marathon 4 months after giving birth. I started running a lot in the evenings and even went for a 9 mile run at about 2 months postpartum. In hindsight, I was being reckless and trying to prove something to myself and those around me. I can do it all, I don’t need to rest;I was gravely mistaken.
Trying to run a marathon so soon after giving birth was unrealistic and I eventually gave up on that goal. Returning to work so soon definitely wasn’t wise either but I didn’t really have much of a choice in that regard. I was quickly running out of money and feared becoming a “rusty new grad” and losing my skills before I even got a chance to use them. It felt like I had to get into my career in order to compete with my former classmates who were already way ahead of me.
I was more worried about competing in my career than easing into becoming a mom and that’s our culture in the U.S.
Eventually, my lack of rest caught up with me. I was working full time in a fast-paced environment, barely eating, completely devoted to taking care of my newborn baby at any free moment I had, and just telling myself that I was handling it okay when I definitely wasn’t. I was losing weight like crazy, not sleeping well, and the most anxious I’ve ever been in my life. My body was just so depleted and off balance.
The short moments that I would have throughout the day at work were almost entirely devoted to pumping so that I could maintain my goal of breastfeeding for at least a year. I had to go way out of my way to keep this goal alive. I often had to ask for support from coworkers so I could drop what I was doing and pump. Luckily, I had that support, so it was possible. But I had to ask for it or it just wouldn’t have been possible, and that was uncomfortable. I know that I made other people uncomfortable by openly talking about pumping and breastfeeding and I definitely felt judged at times.
At first, I was reluctant to be so open about breastfeeding/pumping at work but I let go of this care quickly. We’re talking about feeding a baby here. Giving an innocent newborn child a healthy start to their life. I can see why some women feel uncomfortable and how this probably leads many working moms to stop breastfeeding sooner than they would like to.
This CDC study found that only 58% of surveyed mothers breastfed past 6 months and that number drops down to 35% when talking about 12 month old babies. Many women stop way before 6 months or don’t try at all.
The thing is, women shouldn’t have to start the discussion about breastfeeding in the workplace. We shouldn’t have to be the ones advocating for ourselves. We shouldn’t have to befriend other breastfeeding moms at work to learn where the secret unused locker rooms are that can be used for pumping when the single pumping room for the entire hospital is occupied. As if it’s a “hush hush” topic.
Yes, a hospital, a place filled with healthcare workers who are well aware of the importance of breastfeeding, is also a place with a single room designated to pumping. Luckily, there are extra rooms that you can find and use, but again, you have to figure these things out on your own by seeking out other breastfeeding moms and talking to them. It’s pretty wild when you think about it. And it makes sense why so many women don’t go out of their way to advocate for themselves.
The importance of recovering after having a baby
If you know my story, then you know that I struggle with anxiety. The anxiety I dealt with postpartum was a whole new beast, and I know that rushing back into work too soon was a huge factor that led me to such a low place. It lead me to walk away from one of the best jobs I could have gotten, from a career that I worked so hard to create for myself, because I was struggling so badly from anxiety and I just felt like I had no other choice.
Postpartum recovery is so incredibly vital. If you don’t fully recover, it will catch up with you, whether it be one year later or 10 years later. For me, it took about one year after giving birth for me to completely break down. I can’t help but wonder how my life would be different, had I taken more time off to recover after giving birth.
The depletion that comes with insufficient postpartum recovery inherently effects your ability to care for your child. By raising our children with love and support, we are effecting future generations who will have an impact on this world. So all in all, our recovery as moms has an impact on the future of our entire society.
UNICEF said it best, “There is no time more critical to children’s brain development – and therefore their futures – than the earliest years of life. Parents hold the biggest stake in creating the nurturing environment their children need, and governments should give them the resources to do so.”
So, what’s the answer?
I feel like in the U.S. the mindset of rushing back into work after having a baby is normalized and it should be the opposite. We need to normalize taking as much time off as you need, whether that’s 12 weeks or 12 months. The government should provide resources that give women the ability to do this. Breastfeeding in the workplace should be advocated for by everyone. The first step is starting the discussion.
PL + US is an organization that is working to make a change in our country, you can join them and donate to help make a difference.
What’s your country’s maternity leave policy? How much time did you take off after giving birth? Share thoughts and postpartum recovery stories in the comments!
There is a lot more to being a nurse than a guaranteed job right out of college, flexible schedule, and a good paycheck. So, that’s why I shared 10 reasons I loved being a nurse. Nursing has some great job perks but the rewarding aspect is what gave me the deepest satisfaction, by a long shot.
Regardless of what I gained from being a nurse, it is still a job that I chose to walk away from, mostly for personal reasons. It just wasn’t the right timing for me.
Although my ultimate reason for quitting my job as a nurse was related to personal reasons, mainly a need to focus on being a mom, there were definitely some other issues that I had with both of the jobs I held as a nurse. So, today I bring to you 10 reasons why I hated being a nurse.
1. I rarely felt like I was actually helping
When I decided to pursue a career in nursing, one of my main goals was to help people who needed me. In reality, I rarely felt like I was actually helping anyone. The majority of my time as a nurse was spent passing out cups of pills and typing on a computer. Obviously, it varies depending on what type of nurse you are, but I’m talking med/surg floor nurse, because that is my experience.
So that was the majority of my time: med passes and charting. The next snippet of my time was spent running around from room to room, fetching snacks, cups of coffee, and mostly doing other people’s jobsfor them, like helping doctors communicate with one another, performing patient care duties such as helping patients shower, and transferring patients from their chair back to bed for the physical therapists who had helped them out of bed initially.
I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy doing these things, usually I did. I’d love to just do everything for my patients but when I have 5-8 of them to keep track of, charting to do on every one of them, and you know, a body of my own that needs to be fed and hydrated, it was virtually impossible to complete everything on my to do list for the day.
I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus either. I wasn’t doing other people’s jobs because those people didn’t want to, or were lazy (well, most of the time that wasn’t the case). I would do other people’s jobs mainly because those people were so swamped, that they were incapable of fully completing their tasks. It was kind of like a trickle effect that started with poor hospital administration and extremely saturated healthcare demands.
Also to note, there were times when people had to do my job for me too.
Most hospital workers don’t have the time to go over the top for their job so that leaves the people beneath them with more work. It starts with the administrators who expect too much from the managers of the floors, managers can’t staff properly, which now the charge nurse has to deal with, and then the work conditions are so stressful that people quit or transfer, causing more staffing issues. It’s just a completely messed up, vicious cycle. Honestly, I’m not even sure if this is anyone’s fault because our healthcare system is so deeply flawed and messed up (more on that later). I don’t know how anyone could handle the intricacies of how a hospital functions. Just the idea of it makes my head spin.
So anyways, some days I would be left with small slivers of time, when I would go to a lonely patient’s room and just chat for a bit, or take my time washing and combing my patient’s hair, or whatever it may be. And those were the days when I felt like I was helping, when I felt like I could focus, take my time, and connect with my patients. That was when I felt like I was making an impact. And those times didn’t come often. They were quite rare to be honest.
2. Almost everyone is in it for the money
I remember when I realized that hospitals are businesses that profit off of sick people and it broke my heart. Whether we’re talking nurses, doctors, administrators, the CT guy; a lot of people working in hospitals are in it for the money.
I worked hard as a nurse, but most of my work was sloppy, rushed, and done in an anxiety-driven haste. I looked forward to payday and I often spent my paycheck on impulsive shopping purchases, extravagant brunch dates, and overall, just things I didn’t really need that would help me justify the fact that I was miserable at my job.
Just like how there are servers and retail workers and businessmen who dislike their jobs but do it anyways, only in a miserable, half-assed way, there are healthcare workers who are that way too and we’re holding people’s lives in our hands — just think about that. A lot of times, people performed their jobs poorly because of the working conditions, so I’m not saying that they are bad people or that it was entirely their fault.
Hospitals do contain tons of amazing healthcare workers, across the board. But these people are vastly out numbered by others who are simply capable of doing the work and choose to do it so they can make money. So many people are working at hospitals doing work that they hate or their employer is overworking them and making them miserable but they stick it out because, “I need to make money”.
These employees are lowering the standard of care for everyone and patients are suffering because of it. It’s a real problem. I’ll be honest, towards the end of being a nurse I was becoming one of these people (it took less than a year of poor working conditions to burn me out enough to get to this point — yikes). When I realized I really needed to quit, my only trepidation was related to the fact that I’d be walking away from a guaranteed paycheck, but when I realized that that was the only thing keeping me around, I knew it was time to quit. I didn’t feel like a good nurse, I was distracted and preoccupied. I needed to walk away because I truly wasn’t giving it my all.
I have witnessed a lot of nurses who are meant to be nurses. They are so compassionate, they are so kind, they are genuinely interested in this form of taking care of people. They truly believe that they are helping.
Money is hard to walk away from and there have been a lot of times in my life when I’ve trudged on in an unhappy situation because I felt stuck. It is easy to do. Some people contemplate quitting for 20 years though and trust me, you don’t want to be that person. These are the people who end up spending their entire professional career at a job they hate. Others just need their time to think it over, save money, or gain experience. The reality is, we probably all have to “stick it out” for a certain amount of time and that’s fine.
I’m not saying that if you’re a person who isn’t happy that you should change jobs right now. Just remind yourself of what your goals are. If you aren’t happy, then what do you want? What type of job is ideal for you? What aspects of your job are making you unhappy? Are there ways they can improve? If not, yeah, you probably should go elsewhere, but do take time and think it through, plan ahead, and save up some money first. Just don’t get stuck because your job literally becomes you.
3. Malnourishment is the norm
A couple of months into my first nursing job, I spoke to a therapist. I was feeling a lot of anxiety at work and having a hard time managing my stress at home. She so graciously offered the suggestion that I try to eat a small amount of protein at least every two hours while I’m at work. “Eating regularly can really stabilize your mood.” Well, she wasn’t wrong, but she was so incredibly oblivious to the fact that eating regularly was literally impossible to do consistently at my job.
Her lack of understanding was really frustrating. I was lucky if I got to sit for the first time and eat something before 4PM, let alone have a snack every 2 hours. I did start to bring some protein powder with me which helped, but the fact that chugging a lumpy protein shake as quickly as I could at 10AM was the closest thing to a “healthy habit” at this job is laughable. Being dehydrated and malnourished as a nurse is simply the norm.
I often felt sensory overload after I came home from work, especially if I had worked 3 shifts in a row. I’d franticly speed walk to my car feeling so exhausted yet so wired at the same time. My ears rang once I sat in the silence. Some days I blared music on the way home in an attempt to numb myself from what I had witnessed that day. But when I’d drive home in silence with the windows down, that was the most peaceful feeling.
When working as a nurse, your senses are constantly being stimulated by sounds, bright lights, people rushing around, and people approaching you to ask questions. You are constantly being asked what you want to do and you’re having to make decisions in a snap. It’s overwhelming to the senses and can really make you feel mentally exhausted after the fact.
On top of that, you never really get a break to truly walk away. When you sit down to have lunch you’re in a closet sized room and almost never alone (unless you’re super lucky). Your coworkers are just as overly stimulated and caffeinated as you are and they’re just so curious about all of the food you’ve packed, how your day’s going, what your favorite color is (just kidding).
Okay seriously, all jokes aside, I had a lot of really sweet coworkers and I miss a lot of them. I was lucky to have them. But the design of hospital break rooms being so small and employees just being so wired all the time just fed in even more to the sensory overload of working in a hospital. By the time I got home, the idea of talking to anyone again for at least another 24 hours was exhausting. But 9 times out of 10 I’d have to be back the next day, only about 9 hours after getting home.
5. Compassion fatigue is real
Being a nurse caused me at times to feel inconvenienced by my families needs. Ouch, it hurts to admit that. After 3 straight 12 hour shifts of attempting (and often failing) to meet other people’s needs and listening to people complain (patients and coworkers alike), I often felt so emotionally exhausted that I didn’t even want to talk to my loving fiancé whom I’d barely seen for 3 days.
I literally would feel like I needed to lay down in a quiet room with a pillow over my head for as long as possible. I was using so much energy on other peoples needs, I couldn’t even address my own or that of my family. That made me feel a lack of control and a lot of guilt as well.
These days, when I’m shrugging my shoulders, rolling my eyes, huffing and puffing because my daughter just woke up for the tenth time and I just want to have a relaxing evening, I try to say your needs are never a burden to me. Even though it may appear that way at times, I pray that she believes me. I’m simply human. I’m trying my best. We all are.
6. I’m convinced that every hospital has staffing issues
My first job as a nurse involved the following patient ration: a team of one RN and one LPN took care of 8 patients, and there was a patient care tech somewhere in the mix (if you were lucky). The LPN gave out the medications and the RN assessed and charted on everyone, gave IV push medications, communicated with doctors, discharged and admitted new patients. Our patient care techs took assignments of anywhere from 13-16 patients. Sometimes we had 1 or 2 techs for the entire floor of close to 40 patients.
Then I got my new “better” job. During my interview, the manager told me, “we staff 3-4 patient care techs for our floor of around 20 patients,” I was in awe. Those ratios sounded like a dream to me. Although, definitely better than where I had come from, staffing issues were still very prevalent at this job. And to be totally honest, I rarely witnessed a shift that staffed more than 2 patient care techs at a time because that is simply all they had to work with. Again, not trying to point any fingers, just telling what I honestly witnessed. To be fair, I only held this job for 2 months, so I had a narrow view into the actual working conditions.
It’s pretty understandable that hospitals have staffing issues because nursing is a profession that involves a lot of turn over. Nurses are constantly transferring, changing their schedules, getting new jobs, etc. I’m not sure how managers can handle these changes so some staffing issues are bound to exist but it just became frustrating for me when I realized that these issues exist virtually everywhere. I only have worked at two hospitals, so if you’re a nurse and you’ve worked at a hospital with no staffing issues please share some insight below! I’d love to hear from you.
7. Our healthcare system is deeply flawed
I knew that healthcare systems had issues but I had no idea the extent until witnessing it first-hand. Again, I’m not blaming anyone because it is such a complex system and I personally have no idea what the solution might be. What I do know, is that I saw plenty of patients (mainly at my first job) who were essentially living at the hospital with no long term care option because the long term facilities couldn’t accept them and they had no family to help.
I will never forget the quadriplegic patient who had come in from living in a house with meth addicts. He had unstageable pressure ulcers covering his lower back and sacrum. No rehab facility would take him because of his younger age and medical complexity and they couldn’t discharge him back to where he came from because he wouldn’t receive adequate care there. He lived at the hospital for months and months. Finally, it was somehow decided to discharge him home. It looked like they had found reliable family to care for him, or so they say. He left the hospital and a few months after that, he was found on the side of the road, non-responsive. Someone had literally just left him there. They brought him into the hospital and found multiple drugs in his system. They weren’t able to revive him and he died.
This was the only time I had witnessed a situation like this with such a tragic outcome, but I have no doubt that there are many situations like this that I just haven’t heard about. I wish I could say it was the only time I saw a patient living at the hospital with no medical needs and no place to go, but I saw it many times over. It just showed to me how deeply flawed this system really is. I can’t help but ask myself and anyone who may know, how can we help these people? How can we change this system? Yes, the system is extremely saturated with minimal staff to help but we are failing people left and right.
8. A new level of “busy”
I remember working as a server and feeling “in the weeds” when I’d get 3 or 4 tables all at once. I’d panic as I thought about who I would go to first, striving to get everyone fed in a timely manner. As a nurse, I’ll never forget the feeling of discharging 5 patients at once as my new admission rolls up simultaneously. Or the times I was still getting report from night shift when its after 7:45 and I’m watching the breakfast treys be delivered to my diabetic patient’s who’s blood sugars I needed to check before they started eating.There was even a day when I had to hang a blood transfusion immediately after beginning my shift because the night shift nurse hadn’t gotten to it, and while I was in the room with the patient for the required 15 minutes after the transfusion began, one of my other patients became hypoglycemic while another ones chest tube began to leak. Oh, the memories.
I will truly never forget the feeling of being “in the weeds” as a nurse, because it was so much more intense than any other sense of “busy” that I’ve ever felt in my life. What made the difference? The fact that I feared someone would die at my hands. That was always what it came down to. Yeah, it’s too bad if your table doesn’t get their drinks fast enough or if their order comes out wrong, but what about when you’re too wrapped up in one patient’s room and someone else needs you at the same time? As a nurse, I constantly felt the need to be in multiple places at once. I honestly wished I could clone myself on multiple occasions. Luckily, it never got to the point of truly endangering anyone’s life, but it easily could have.
9. So much toxin exposure
Hospitals are just filled with strong toxic chemicals whether it be the cleaning products the janitors use, the hand sanitizers we’re constantly slathering ourselves in, toxic drugs that float through the air, or the unfiltered water that you’re forced to drink for 12 hours a day. I felt like as a nurse, no matter how hard I tried to live a “healthy” lifestyle, it was inevitably ruined by my job because I’d always have to accept exposure to tons of toxic chemicals while in the work place. I actually got to a point where I just felt like giving up on avoiding toxin exposure in my day-to-day life because I knew my job ultimately ruined any effort I put forth to live a healthy lifestyle. Having experienced this job first hand definitely showed me why so many nurses suffer from health issues — it is virtually impossible to live a healthy life while working at this type of job.
As a hospital worker, I often felt like I was just a part of a pack following along with the policies of the facility. Sometimes, things truly didn’t make any sense and when I questioned why something was done a certain way, the answer was always, “it’s hospital policy” or “that’s just how we do it”. It quickly became evident to me that having a voice of reason as a nurse is not exactly the most common practice. Obviously, no one directly said this to me, this is all based off of my opinions and inferences so please feel free to agree or disagree, but I felt like it was expected of me to put my head down, do my work, and not question anyone or anything. This realization showed me how much power large corporations like hospitals truly have — it’s pretty scary.
I was once pressured into receiving a Hepatitis B vaccine by my employer. I did what I was supposed to do, I went to employee health, I got the vaccine, and that was that. I signed a waver prior to receiving the shot and it listed the brand name of the vaccine. No one provided me with information about potential side effects or discussed anything with me. They simply had me sign the form and gave me the shot. I looked up the vaccine after the fact to review the potential side effects and read that it isn’t recommended for breastfeeding women to get this shot because the safety hasn’t been confirmed. If you can’t guess already, I was a breastfeeding woman at the time. No one told me, no one asked me. This type of culture is so widely accepted by nurses that I honestly wasn’t even that surprised, I was just frustrated more than anything. This is how we’re used to treating our patients, just following doctors orders and hospital policy. It’s a slippery slope.
I want to emphasize the fact that I’m not trying to convince other nurses to quit their jobs — we need nurses. Nor am I passing judgement on those of you who work in this profession. If anything, I have serious respect for nurses because to be successful as a nurse, an incredibly high level of resilience and selflessness is required. I’m simply sharing my experience with the hopes of starting a discussion about these issues. The more we speak up about our struggles, the more likely it is that something could change.
Finally, I want to emphasize that the title of this post is “10 ReasonsI Hated Being a Nurse”
Emphasis on “reasons” because I didn’t hate being a nurse entirely, there were aspects I loved. The bad just simply outweighed the good for me and I truly could not handle the stress. I had to put myself and my family first. I may return to nursing one day, and that doesn’t make me a hypocrite.
And finally, emphasis on “I” because this is my experience and everyone has a different journey. If you are excelling at nursing, more power to you. If you disagree with what I’ve said, then that’s fine too, this is my opinion and you are entitled to yours as well.
Thank you so much for reading (my longest post yet!), and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
In February of 2017, I got on a plane and flew to Colorado. This was probably my 3rd time on an airplane ever in my life (I was 20 years old at the time). My next plane ride took me to a small town in Michigan that August. Only four months after that, I hopped on a plane that eventually led me to Manhattan, for 4 snowy days in the city. April 2018 took me out of the U.S. and gained me my first ever passport stamp (helloooo London!). Only about two months later I got one more stamp when I flew to Costa Rica in June. Six months later, I found myself in Manhattan again for another 4 days of that wonderful city in December I waited patiently for another 6 months after that for my biggest travel excursion yet. June 2019, I left the U.S. and embarked on a one month backpacking trip in Europe. And that was it, I’ve not yet been on a plane since.
Why did my travel habits suddenly hit a brick wall? Well, I had a baby 3 months after returning from my backpacking trip, so that will definitely put a pause on a lot of things — travel being one of them. But I have always been determined as a mom to hop on a plane with our little babe as soon as possible. I know that travel with children can be daunting but it’s one of those things that I want to face so I can prove to myself that it really isn’t as bad as my mind may want me to think. The last thing I want is to use the excuse of it being too stressful to travel with a child and stay in my comfort zone and hardly ever go anywhere cool as a family.
And then of course you have the pandemic. As if traveling with a child wasn’t already intimidating, now you have the mask requirements, the need to get COVID swabbed prior to going, and the risk of catching COVID abroad and getting stuck at your destination longer to quarantine. I feel like that last one is the hardest one for me to get past.
We are also on a budget right now as I go through a career transition and we save up for our wedding but I still want to make travel a financial priority. It’s really not that hard to save for a trip even when you’re on a tight budget. But, it is tough to save up enough for a trip and to have enough money prepared in case you get stuck in whatever country you travel to and have to pay for an additional 10 days (or who knows how long) of housing and food. That’s where I’m at with it. I know, we could technically stay within the country, but our budget is still tight, so for now, we’re staying put.
So, I haven’t been on a plane for almost two years after getting on one nearly every 3 months for a couple of years. It’s a bit of a bummer, I’m not going to lie. I’m dying to go somewhere. I feel bored all the time. Some days, I feel like I’m going crazy. I know that hopping on a plane right now would give me the perspective and clarity that I so badly need. I miss traveling so so much.
So, how am I handling such a bummer? I’m starting to really think about what it is that I love so much about traveling and figuring out ways to achieve those things without going anywhere. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Exploring culture/art from home.
One reason I love to travel is that it gives me a new perspective. Traveling exposes me to new people in new cultures and new surroundings that I’ve never experienced before. It teaches me and causes me to grow. A lot of the trips I’ve gone on have inspired me to explore museums and art in order to embrace what a city has to offer and learn more about that city’s culture.
I also love the extra time that I get while traveling that leads me to read more books, magazines and newspaper. I’m trying to start doing more of all of these things at home. It can be easy to get in the habit of sitting on the couch and reaching for your phone right away. I’m going to try to pick up a book more often, listen to more audiobooks, and just generally be more intentional with my down time.
Although I’m trying to lessen my screen time, I know that some TV and phone time is inevitable so I’ve been striving to watch TV and use social media with more of a cultural eye, if that makes sense. What the hell does that mean? You’re probably wondering. What I mean is this, I’m not mindlessly staring at the TV or my phone. I’m asking myself, what am I looking at? Is this serving me in a positive way? If not, let’s do something else. I’m watching shows and movies and paying attention to fashion, style and trends.
It’s been super enjoyable to rewatch movies that I loved when I was growing up and pay attention to the way people dressed and acted back then. Noticing what was trendy when I was growing up gives me a perspective into past trends and styles that influenced my personal style today.
Not going to lie, I can tend to find solace in cheesy, early 2000’s era rom-coms and reality shows but I’m fully embracing these guilty pleasures. It’s not time wasted if you’re mindfully watching and finding joy in the moment — that’s something I’ve realized recently.
Since I’ve started to spend more time writing and creating things, I’m realizing that art is everywhere. Yes, even on the TV screen of those poorly rated rom-coms and walking the streets of your hometown. You may just need to shift your perspective and take a closer look to notice it.
Embrace your surroundings/community.
It feels really good to get out of your hometown but it can also be nice to ask yourself: What does my hometown have to offer that I’m not already taking advantage of? I mentioned above that traveling often inspires more museum trips but I’m going to try to get out of my house and check out some of the museums that my hometown has to offer too. I do happen to live in a town that is filled with art and history, and I hardly ever pay attention to it.
Getting out of your house and embracing your surroundings is a great way to feel like you’re doing something. I’ve been trying to support more local businesses, testing out different coffee shops for my working days rather than going to the same spot every time. I’ve also been utilizing the farmer’s market more and I even went to my first group workout class in quite a while. I almost forgot how good it can feel to get out of the house and do things that surround you with other people.
Don’t let the weather stop you.
One thing I love about traveling is the way that I feel motivated to get out and do things, whether it’s pouring down rain, below freezing, or even the middle of a heat wave. When I’m home, it can be easy to decide to sit around most of the day and do nothing because it’s “so rainy”, or “it’s too cold” to go anywhere. I’m going to try to let go of that. I’m going to start embracing my “travel mindset” even when I’m at home.
Remember, this is only temporary.
Ultimately, I’m super antsy to travel again but I’m doing my best to remind myself that the current circumstances are only temporary. I’ll be living life on less of a budget one day, travel restrictions will (hopefully) ease up soon, we’re going to go somewhere again — it just may take time, patience, and understanding. I’m trying to be more patient and just embrace where I’m at today.
When was your last travel experience? Let me know in the comments!
Lately I’ve been thinking about the concept of seeking validation. I’ve noticed some people around me and asked myself, “What are they trying to prove? Who/what do they feel threatened by? What void are they attempting to fill?”
But then suddenly, I realized I needed to take Bob Marley’s advice — before I pointed the finger, I needed to make sure my hands were clean. That’s when I realized that the people I’m observing might not be the only ones seeking validation. It looked like I was doing it too. Here are some examples of ways I’ve been doing this and ways I’ve noticed others doing it too, in case you need to take a step back and ask yourself the same thing.
What does it mean to seek validation?
When I use the term “seeking validation” I instantly think of someone who feels the need to brag about their life or to make their life look perfect on social media. One telltale example of course is the couple who looks perfect on the outside but are completely unhappy behind closed doors. Ultimately, seeking validation basically looks like attempting to gain the approval of some else. Often when I notice myself seeking validation it isn’t actually for other, it’s more of me seeking approval from myself (if that makes sense).
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve witnessed myself seeking validation by trying to appear a certain way on social media, talking about accomplishments without having been asked first, and by making sure to look my best with the thought that if I look good, everyone will assume that I am doing very well in all aspects of my life.
When I was working as a nurse, I just remember making a lot of money and feeling the need to justify the work I was doing by spending the paycheck. I remember shopping impulsively, getting my nails done regularly, and just generally buying things the moment I decided I wanted them without thinking twice, all the time. I thought that these items and my reminding myself of my ability to acquire them would make me feel happy. The reality was, I was extremely unhappy with the amount of time and energy that my nursing job forced me to sacrifice. I didn’t feel involved enough in my daughters life and it was breaking my heart. I thought the shopping or “self care” excess on my days off would make me happy. I thought that going to brunch and getting my nails done and wearing new clothes and drinking all the time would fill a void and fix my unhappiness but it didn’t.
Shortly before I stopped working as a nurse, I was considering buying a new car. My current car is not old, it is reliable and most importantly — it is almost entirely paid off. Although I would like a larger vehicle soon, I don’t need one right now. When I was working as a nurse, I fantasized about a brand new car with nice tires, tinted windows and all the bells and whistles. I still dream about that car and I’m excited to own it one day, but I came close to impulsively upgrading not only my car but my monthly bills by nearly $500 every month, simply because I felt like it was within my reach and it would give me validation.
The validation I was looking for was that I was doing the right thing by working at a job where I felt unhappy and sacrificing vital time with my daughter. Just like when I inadvertently start rambling about my income when no one asked, I’m not even really talking to the people who are in front of me, I’m more so talking to myself. I’m reminding myself, don’t worry, you’re doing well, you’re where you’re supposed to be, because my insecurities have caused me to ask these questions, along with so many more.
Are my friends true to me?
Do people find me obnoxious?
Was quitting my job a bad idea?
Have I made the right decisions as a mother?
I’ve noticed not only myself, but countless other people spending money or pushing a certain narrative in their life for the purpose of seeking validation. It can be easy to do this without even realizing it. Before you make a big decision ask yourself, where is this coming from? What am I hoping to accomplish with this?
I’m excited to get married, I’ve found myself dreaming about our wedding day. I also dream about our honeymoon, and our future home that we’ll buy and the family vacations we’ll go on in the future. These are fun and exciting things that I’m lucky to have at my fingertips, but they aren’t yet real. Although, I believe in making my dreams a reality, I have to find contentment in my current reality or else I’ll never be really happy.
My current reality looks a little less like dreamy wedding plans and traveling. It looks a little more like long days at home being a mom. Avocado smears on my shirt and hair that hasn’t been washed in who-knows-how-many days. It looks like picking up the same living room mess 10 times in one day and sweeping lentils off the floor over and over again. It looks like pushing the stroller up and down our same street and saying hi to the same neighbors, day in and day out. It looks like a tight budget and the fire that I’m feeling under my ass to hustle, it’s time to make money and save up for all of these big plans. It looks like fear and self doubt, remembering the paycheck that once was and although I would never go back, man financial security was nice.
Sometimes this monotony makes me feel a little crazy. Sometimes I feel bored, and scared. I feel self doubt and I question my past decisions all the time. I’ve realized it’s a temporary feeling though. I’m just letting my mind wonder a little too much and falling into the “grass is always greener” mindset. But I know better than that. So I’m working on accepting more and practicing patience. I’m trying to connect more with God and count my blessings more often. My life really is beautiful and I am happy. I don’t need validation right now but I know shifting your mindset can be easier said than done.
Telling yourself that achieving something in the future is the final piece missing in your puzzle of happiness will most likely set you up for disappointment. It’s great to set goals and achieve them — don’t get me wrong — just don’t think that a lack of contentment now simply needs to be filled with some type of materialistic solution in the future.
If you’re constantly filling voids and finding yourself displeased by what you thought would bring you great joy, it may be time to take a step back and re-evaluate a few things.
Have you ever noticed yourself seeking validation in life? What about other people in your life? What does seeking validation look like to you?
Recently I’ve been faced with a reoccurring fear. I’m afraid of becoming ordinary. I’m afraid of getting too set in my ways and reaching a point where I feel incredibly inconvenienced every time I have to step out of my day-to-day. I’m afraid of my life becoming boring. I’m afraid that I might get too used to doing things the way I always do them and I’ll just become a creature of habit. I’m afraid that I’ll start living life with eyes half open. Or that I already am, and I haven’t even realized it yet.
My reality is that my life is kind of ordinary, but in a beautiful way. I have a child and a fiancé. We live together in our little house and drink coffee on the couch together every Saturday and Sunday morning. We have routines. We don’t live a crazy, luxurious life. But it feels exciting and fun and chaotic all the time. That’s when I realized that this whole uninteresting life, or boring life fear is actually all about perspective. The reality is, you can live any life that you envision for yourself. Here’s how.
Accept the bad days in the same way that you revel in the good days.
Some days are good, some not so good. I often find myself dwelling on the bad days, “Is this my life now? Will I always feel this way?” The answer is obviously a big no, but it can be difficult to see that when you’ve just had a rough day. Try to be patient with yourself and accept the bad days in the same way that you revel in the good days. It’s all just a part of the process.
Find joy in quiet moments.
Silent moments are so vastly underrated. As a society I feel like a lot of us are obsessed with constantly being stimulated in some way, staring at a phone, TV screen, headphones always in, constantly making small talk even if it’s meaningless. I didn’t appreciate quiet time until I had a child and my home became anything but quiet. Yet I still find myself at times taking these moments for granted. Sometimes a quiet evening is perceived in my mind as boring, leading to trivial worries— “is my life boring?” The answer is no, it’s not. Quiet time is so wonderful. Accept it, love it, embrace it.
Never stop appreciating the little things.
Do you have clean water to drink? A roof over your head? A pillow to lay your head at night? If the answer is yes, you’re already 10 steps ahead of a lot of people. Although you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, you should try to always appreciate the little things. We’re constantly surrounded with reasons to jump for joy, it can be easy to forget this sometimes.
Stop letting fear lead the way.
It can be easy to feel afraid of things. I’ve found myself in the past holding back on something because I’m afraid of a negative outcome. I’ve realized that you can never predict the future and if you don’t try you definitely won’t succeed. If you let fear hold you back, you’re letting fear dictate your life.
Get out into the world.
If you’re feeling unfullfilled, bored, stuck, stagnant, you may just need to take a step outside. Like literally, just go out onto your front step. Feel the sun on your face, feel the wind in your hair. It’s grounding to appreciate these things. If you’re feeling ambitious, keep going, keep moving. Go for a walk, a drive, whatever. Just go outside, break the cycle. Leave your place of comfort and don’t stop. Don’t ever get too comfortable, there’s danger in that.
Accept that life is sometimes monotonous.
Whether you want to believe it or not, life will feel monotonous or even a little boring at times and I can let that scare me sometimes. Kind of like feeling resistant to those quiet moments I mentioned earlier. Try to accept these unavoidable moments, understand it’s just a part of life.
Spend less time obsessing over other people’s lives, live for YOU.
Yes, it can be satisfying to just stare at your phone and scroll instagram for a while (especially if you rarely get uninterrupted time to do so). But try to be more intentional with your social media use (I’m reminding myself of this more than anything). How much time do you actually spend scrolling? What are you thinking in those moments? Are you getting inspired and stoked for your friends and family? Or are you comparing yourself and falling into negative thought patterns? I know it can be a slippery slope for me, for sure. If you feel like social media is having a toxic effect maybe take a little break. At the end of the day, if you’re spending all of your free time on social media and letting the views of others influence your life, you’re not living your life. You’re living for someone else. You’re living for these people on social media, whom you may not even know. So you’re living not for them, but for the idea of them that they portray on social media and no one knows how much truth is in that. Yikes.
Shift your perspective, change your life.
At the end of the day, you can be anyone you want to be. You can do anything you want to do. You have endless potential, we all do, and once you shift your perspective you can start to live the life you’ve always dreamed. I’m just speaking from experience. The life I have right now, I literally dreamed it.
I was unhappy for years and year, I dreamed of a relationship like the one I’m in. Then I found it. I dreamed of starting a family (with the right man) and now I have that. I dreamed of traveling, and then I did it (more to come hopefully!). Then I found myself in an unhappy place once again. My mental health was deteriorating as I adjusted to life as a mom. I was too busy, I couldn’t handle working full time, and unfortunately, the career path I had chosen required that. For so long, I didn’t think quitting was an option. I thought that quitting meant I’d have to wait tables again or that I’d be throwing away all of the hard work I had put into getting the job I had. But the reality was, no pay check is worth your mental health.
I felt pulled to write, so I started to write. It started as 10 words a day jotted down in a journal, just random thoughts and sentences. Then I started this blog. I kept going, I had no idea why but I just kept going. Now somehow, it’s blossomed into a full on career change. I write for money, I have multiple clients who I write for regularly. This is completely unrelated to my college degree, yet I made it happen for myself. Six months ago, I didn’t even know it was possible for me to make money as a writer, it sounded unrealistic to me. Now that’s literally what I do.
I dreamed this life for myself, and you can do it too. Whatever your dream is, don’t give up on it, don’t sleep on it. You can do this.