As some of you may know, I’m now in the second half of a degree in Adult Nursing. It’s not been without its challenges, but it has been massively, massively rewarding. What some of you may not know is that I have wanted to start a blog stating how I feel, deep down, since beginning the course back in 2017. I’ve even been paying for blog hosting since 2018, but still, I’ve kept on pushing it back. I’ve been constantly inspired as well as encouraged by many other students to ’just do it’ to start a blog as they have done, but, I just couldn’t. However, this year has been a real turning point for me (which I will go on to discuss in subsequent posts). Now, I finally feel ready to face my own personal demons head-on, starting by publicly sharing this blog.
I think I’ve always known where a lot of my problems stem from, what they have stopped me from doing and how they’ve slowed down my progression. In this case, it was my annoying inner dialogue: ‘Who would want to read what I have to say?’, ‘so many people already write blogs, what if anything do I have to add?’ I also worry about my ability to write well. So, it’s my self-doubt/lack of confidence coming to the surface again, producing what I can only really describe as an almost crippling fear; the worry about what people might think of me. It always comes back to this. Always. By putting myself ‘out there’ I leave myself open to all kinds of criticism. For as long as I can remember I’ve put up barriers which have affected me both personally and professionally, and I feel now is the perfect time to begin addressing at least some of them.
Vulnerability: my greatest fear impacting almost every aspect of my life. When I think back to when I first came into nursing I felt sure that I’d be able to show my sensitive side with ease. However, sadly, in a way, I feel I’ve lost part of that ability, particularly as the course has progressed. As student nurses, we learn the importance of being emotionally resilient (professional detachment by another name) but I still feel it’s a rather ambiguous term, and one that in practice I can’t quite square in applying to the context of nursing. The Royal College of Nursing (2016) describe resilience as having the confidence and ability to overcome negative setbacks, have support networks for difficult situations, whilst withstanding events considered to be a crisis with calmness, and being honest about personal fears. I feel the issue is not just in being resilient, but it’s also in being open, allowing ourselves to explore our vulnerabilities, maintaining our authenticity.
For me, initially, being resilient meant I had to be harder, tougher, thicker-skinned and ultimately, stronger. So that’s what I have done. However, there is always that vulnerability that comes with caring for others, be that patients or their family, and of course even my own friends and family. So, I care, and I genuinely do care, a hell of a lot actually, but unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to show. On a personal level, I am aware I have often given the impression that I care a lot less than I do because again there’s that inner demon, provoking a huge fear of disapproval and rejection. In effect, sometimes it just hurts too much, hence the constant fear I find myself feeding into, rather than feeling. This is where humour is great, isn’t it?
Perhaps I really have totally misunderstood what it means to be resilient. Maybe it’s not about developing a hard shell that no one can break. Maybe it’s not skirting around those sensitive issues, cracking jokes or putting up those impenetrable walls. Perhaps it really is about embracing who we are intrinsically, recognising and not changing who we are to the point where we begin to question ourselves. I’m slowly learning that it’s perfectly OK not to love myself all of the time, to not do as well at certain things, to sometimes accept it is fine to lack confidence in certain areas, and more importantly, learning there is absolutely nothing wrong in admitting this.
By acknowledging these things and ultimately allowing myself to be a little more vulnerable, I can actually begin to work on them. I’ve realised that by hiding them, nothing will ever change, and I have been so frustrated in the past with running away from what I perceive to be ‘scary’. I’m tired of running. I’m fed up of pretending.
For me, being authentic is what’s going to help my resilience. Perhaps my true softness isn’t necessarily a weakness? Perhaps then, soft is strong…
My next post will be based around my mental health, and hopefully, it will give some context as to why I felt the desire to write this as my first blog post. I want to get to a point where my posts will be of some help to others, but as of right now it just feels enough to get my thoughts together and written down.
I think the one thing I’d like to offer anyone who has felt similar to the way I have, is to try and face your fears, when you feel able; identifying and then acknowledging these fears is the first crucial step in eventually overcoming them. Talk about them, taking whatever time you need, in a way that feels least threatening. Who knows, you might find it quite liberating? I know I have.
Thank you for reading,
RCN Learning. (2016). Resilience. [online] Available at: http://mnd.rcnlearning.org.uk/resilience/ [Accessed 17th March 2019].