Do it now, Mary! Do it while you can! Do it before you have kids!
If I had a dollar for everytime a coworker said, “Do it before you have kids,” I wouldn’t have enough to pay for the trip, but I would have enough to pay for 30 meals in Southeast Asia.
The support I received from my fellow RNs as news got out about me quitting to travel for year was consistent across every age, lifestyle, and personality. They chanted the phrases I first mentioned, they had a lot of questions, they cheered me on.
Our decision to leave Minneapolis and travel Southeast Asia was first made over a year ago. A good amount of time is needed before a plunge into a different lifestyle. To save money. To mentally prepare. Can you imagine making a last second decision to do something like this? My anxious and worried mind wouldn’t have it. I’d lay in the fetal position until it was time to pass through security and always be five seconds behind each moment, feeling guilt and regret.
No, Marc and I thought long and hard about our choice. Deciding to quit was easier for Marc. He felt bored and alone at work. He was good at what he did but it wasn’t exactly what he wanted to be doing. I, on the other hand, had peaks and valleys (moderate variability reference, anyone?) in emotions while contemplating my next career move. I loved where I worked. I enjoyed and appreciated my coworkers. For the most part, I loved the patient population. I performed enough self care to get me along shift after shift without letting too much sink in too deep. I had terrible shifts, don’t get me wrong. I often felt unlucky. I wanted to believe that during my next yoga session I’d breathe out the insecurities, set my intention to that patient or newborn, work through my asanas, and then head to work again with a fresh face and attitude. That worked most of the time, but I was often my anxious self. I knew it was time for a break. The ultimate self care move was to remove myself completely. The beauty of nursing, besides making such a direct impact on another person’s life, is the security of the profession. I can quit. When we return, I’ll have no problem finding another job.
I was extremely nervous to tell my boss. I felt very guilty for knowing my plans to leave the unit for so long and keeping them hidden. I told my manager, her jaw dropped. Not in anger with me, but with sincere awe and incredulous feelings of proudness. She got up and hugged me. She asked the necessary questions: where, who, what, how? I answered what I could with a grin on my face, pausing to be grateful for a pleasant interaction. I had just quit my first job. We talked logistics for a few minutes, and then I was on my way. I only needed to tell a couple of my coworkers before almost everyone knew. I gave six weeks notice and those six weeks flew by.
My last day of work approached, and I felt as if I was almost ready for take-off. Take off into a world of unaffiliated, flexible days. Days of hardcore budgeting.
We had a potluck dinner on my last shift, an array of individual specialties offered in a sort of appetizer affair. I had an amazing last delivery on my shift. The ones that really boost your confidence and boast some kickass patient advocacy nursing. I got her the birth she wanted, and I cried because I was proud of myself for empowering her.
After work we went bowling at Memory Lanes in Minneapolis. I laughed so hard I cried. I also got second place with 81, a personal best (but still not that great). At the end of the night I had an assembly line of hugs. I felt so loved, so confident, and so ready to move onto this next big adventure.
Photo credit: Luzmery Erickson-Cancino