Monday, August 26, 2013

Quarter Life Crisis

I know. It has been entirely too long since I have posted anything. And in all honesty, my posts may be a bit more sporadic since I start grad school tomorrow. I have so much to catch up on that I'm not really sure where to begin. I have so many posts about things I want to say started and saved as drafts, but sometimes it takes me a while (even up to a few months) to find the right words. What can I say? I'm one of those people who thinks before speaking and the same applies to my writing. I'm also an introvert by nature. And sometime it takes me a while to build up the courage to post my private thoughts and feelings and things about my life for the world to see. But I always find it to be therapeutic in the end. And as I've said before, someone, somewhere may find healing and answers by hearing my story and struggles. In fact, I frequently get messages and emails from random people telling me thank you for sharing my story or to ask me questions or for advice. So that makes it all worth it. Also I like to live by the Dr. Seuss quote, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." For this post, however, I'm simply writing as it comes to mind. So it may be a bit random in nature.

First, let me give you all an update about the whole cancer thing. I had my six month follow up with my oncologist about two weeks ago. This appointment was much easier than the last. I could definitely feel God's presence with me and His comforting hands on me. I spoke in my last post about very nearly having an anxiety attack at my three month follow up. I was on my way to the cancer center and just the thought of having to go back really made me panic. But I said a prayer before even leaving the house this time and I felt strangely calm the entire time. It went very well. Nothing new to report. I will go back in another three months.

I had my last surgery (at least I hope!) earlier this week as far as the reconstruction process goes. And I could not be happier to be done!!! If I never have to been poked or prodded like a pin cushion ever again, it would be too soon. Below is my final "Let's do this!" picture from before going in.

I am still taking the tamoxifen everyday, which I have to take for five years. I've heard people call it the devil drug but it hasn't been so bad. The biggest side effect from it has been the hot flashes. And boy are they intense. I have always been a cold natured person and I still am for the most part. But when a hot flash hits, it's like my skin is on fire. I feel like a woman in her fifties going through menopause as my face sometimes turns red and I have to fan myself. It never lasts more than a few minutes though. And I take the tamoxifen at night which seems to help as I sleep through the worst of it. Other than the hot flashes though, along with my short (and now curly!) hair and some scars, I feel like a normal person. I realize that many people have long lasting side effects from the surgeries, chemo, and medicines so I feel grateful to feel healthy and strong. Other than the tamoxifen, I just take some vitamins, which I have always taken, even as far back as high school. I plan to write a more in depth post soon about the medicines I take and the vitamins which I find helpful so stay tuned :)

In other news, some of you may have noticed that the title of this post is Quarter Life Crisis. Ever have those off days or weeks where you question everything in your life? I know we all have bad days and sometimes even the calmest of people can be a little dramatic (myself included). But I'm talking about those periods in life where you may have some serious and nagging doubts about the road you have taken. Have you taken the right path? Have I taken the right path?

Most of us were raised to expect a certain timeline for our lives. Go to college. Begin your career. Get married. Have kids. And all of these things typically happen in your twenties or up into your early thirties, especially in the South where tradition seems to dictate. But what if those things don't happen as expected? What if life throws you curve balls that seem to delay the normal process of things? Or what if you find yourself not wanting to live your life that way? This is where I have been stuck as of late. I was talking to some friends the other day who are around the same age as me and they say they often have the same thoughts and questions. So I figured I would share my struggles as of late and what I have decided it all means in the end, hence the title of this post.

I am 25 years old. I have a great career as an RN and am starting back in school for my Master's as a Nurse Practitioner. By all appearances, I am on the right track. But I still have my doubts (as does everyone I imagine). And lately, they have really been on my mind. I have an amazing group of friends who are at all walks of life. Around half of my friends are married, have a steady career, and have kids or have kids on their mind. And the other half are single/dating, working on finding their passion in life and the right career, and like to go out frequently. And I tend to find myself somewhere in the middle. And sometimes I can't help but wonder if I am going in the right direction and making the right choices for my life. 

Let's start from the beginning. I recently took a new position as the Patient Care Coordinator or charge nurse on my floor. To have only been a nurse for two years, I consider this to be an accomplishment. I am thankful my peers and bosses consider me responsible and competent enough to be in a leadership position. But I would be lying if I said it hasn't been a tough transition. It's quite a bit more stressful and I find myself missing direct patient care, as I do not always have patients. I am also going back to school to get my Master's as an Adult-Gero/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, which should take me roughly two years to complete. With this degree, I would most likely work in a clinic somewhere. I love being a nurse. And I have no doubts about the fact that I am meant to do nursing. But if I am 100% honest with myself, my ultimate dream is to travel. And I don't just mean travel nursing, although I would love to do that as well. I want to see the world. To go outside of my comfort zone. To experience different cultures. To help people who don't have the means to help themselves. And to experience God's beautiful creation outside of what I am used to. Traveling and being in school simply do not go well together. So, while I am comfortable in knowing that I want to be a Nurse Practitioner and I want to go back to school, I still question whether this is the right path for me.

Then there is the topic of marriage and dating. I don't date all that much. I've never been one of those girls that has to have a man to feel secure. I do go out sometimes. But to have fun  and hang out with my friends. Not scope out potential boyfriends. 

I guess the ultimate question is am I on the right path in my life? The path God wants for me? Am I where I should be at age 25? My life seems so different than what I expected it to be ten years ago. And this is the concept I have been struggling with lately, as have many people my age whom I've spoken with recently, hence the quarter life crisis.

So here is what I have come to realize about all of this. My life is not my own. It belongs to my Creator and it is in His hands. This verse brought me comfort earlier this week.
Jeremiah 29:11-13
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

God has a plan. He has a plan for me just as He does for you. And things happen on His time. Not ours. When the time is right, we must have faith that He will present the right career choices for us. And when the time is right, He will introduce us to the perfect person with whom He wants us to spend our life with. We simply have to have faith in His plans and allow Him to guide us along the path He has chosen for our lives. Don't worry about the rest. So you may not be where you saw yourself ten years ago? Maybe by unforeseen circumstances you couldn't go to college or finish school. Maybe you haven't decided what you want to do with your life yet. Maybe you got cancer or lost your job. Maybe you don't find yourself wanting a "normal" life. Or maybe you had a kid before planned or did things out of the expected order.  So what? It's God's plan for you. And He doesn't make mistakes. TRUST IN HIM. Let go of the past and seek Him. The rest will work itself out. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, 25 is very young :) And you have plenty of time!

I read this post somewhere online earlier today and it sums up my thoughts perfectly.

"We as humans tend to conform to the ideas of what we were taught life should be like and find ourselves disoriented and feeling lost when it doesn’t actually look like that. We were all spoon-fed idealistic falsehoods about what life would look like, and I don’t think anybody (or very few people at least) have really lived it out, so don’t worry about it. It’s okay to go off track, you’ll probably find a different path that leads you somewhere better. The comfort zone you know now was once a place you were probably afraid of. Move with the flow of your life, let it take you places you’re unsure of. That is where you find things you couldn’t have imagined. Get married when you want, don’t get married when you want, have a kid when you want, or don’t. It doesn’t matter. People like to put ages on things that are really subjective to each person. Don’t feel bad if you do or don’t want to do something within the age bracket that people have assigned to it. You do you. There will be someone who loves you for what you are, but you know what that doesn’t even matter, because the peace you find within yourself once you are really being who you are is more than enough."

Be who you are. Do what you love. Have faith in God's plan. And let the worries and stress about the way you feel your life "should" be go.

Love always,