Here it is, mid-October, and many young people are struggling with their first semester of college. Struggling an dare I say, panicking. The drop/add deadline has passed. Students are sure they won’t make an ‘A’ in all of their classes. They are terrified that one or two bad grades will ruin their GPA. Will ruin their career. Will ruin their lives….
Instead of destroying your health, happiness, and sanity chasing the perfect grade, I suggest you embrace one or two bad grades
– even failures –
They are learning opportunities!
What seems like catastrophe can actually be freeing.
Back when I started college I had the notion that I should become a nurse. Why? I don’t know. There were no nurses in my family, but I figured that’s what women do. They become nurses. As I recall, my older brother told me I wasn’t smart enough to become a doctor so I should become a nurse. (Hey, give him a break, it was the ’70s!)
I had done quite well in high school. Honor roll. Golden tassel. My first summer after graduating from high school, I wanted to get a jump on academics so I took a college statistics class. I passed. More than passed, I got an ‘A’. I liked statistics. I thought it was pretty interesting. I thought “if this is nursing, this is going to be great.” The next semester I took the usual bachelor degree first year classes: English, history, whatever. All A’s.
I struggled with biology. Probably because I don’t have the best memory and never took Latin. But I passed and finished they year with a good GPA.
The next year was hell. I was thrown into hospital situations. I worked with a mentally ill veteran who didn’t act mentally ill until he started talking about being stalked by the Pope. Working the maternity rotation is why I waited until my mid-30s before my son was born. All that screaming! All that yuck!
I watched an experienced nurse insert a urine catheter into a female patient and tell me it was easier on male patients. I never wanted to find out.
I gave shots during my pediatric rotation. I was terrible at it. That poor kid. Traumatized for life, no doubt. And forget drawing blood. I could never draw blood. I was terrible at everything. I even got fussed at while helping a kid brush his teeth. That’s how awkward I was.
But the final straw – the nail on the coffin, as it were – was when they sent me off to do community nursing. This was before GPS. Before cell phones. I have a terrible sense of direction and I hated those huge road maps they sold at gas stations. They were too big and folded in weird ways. The patient I was sent to visit lived on the other side of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel in Newport News. My task was simple. Drive to her home and check on her status. She was an elderly diabetic with a recent amputation. I was supposed to examine the amputation site and report my findings.
I got lost. Of course. My inner self saying “you don’t want to go there.” Hours later, I finally arrived and the patient tells me that the school had been calling and calling, wondering where I was. I talked to the lady and I never inspected her amputation site. I just ask her how she is doing. She said fine and I left as quickly as I could.
The next day the head of the nursing department called me in to her office. “You don’t have your heart in this, do you?”
I hated yuck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with dirt but not fine with vomit. Or poop. Or blood. Or puss. I thanked the head of the department and never looked back. I switched majors and ended up a computer programmer.
Now I keep bees and I write and I am eternally grateful to the head of the nursing department for being honest and rejecting me because I didn’t have the courage to say “I’m quitting.”
5 replies on “Embrace Rejection”
Carolyn the book about Dr. Funkhouser will be amazing! It is wonderful that there will be new life breathed into this subject. I can remember the tumult around this murder, at the time of this murder though I was a young teenager. My brother was completely stunned and greatly affected by the death of this beloved professor, so I think that memory evoked the big question marks left unanswered by this tragedy. Our household was left with no closure on this subject, back in the day, to comfort my brother. Thank you.
As a nursing student once upon a time, and a registered nurse of more than 30 years, I can relate to some of your story. I hated the community health nursing rotation because one has to either love that aspect of nursing or not. I was in the “not” category, but I did my requirement for that 2-semester course. Oddly, no matter what decade one participates in nursing school, I think the outcome for community health nurse is the same. Patients being visited by healthcare personnel within their own homes have mixed feelings for us outsiders. Their home is THEIR domain; The patient has survived his surgery or hospital stay and just wants to resume his routine at home. The patient will either embrace the time with the home health nurse or dig in his heels. As for my obstetrics rotation, I am with you! I never understood why a woman on the absolute verge of becoming a mother would enter labor so unprepared for the outcome! Didn’t the mother-to-be ever read the book of Genesis in the Bible and learn of Eve’s curse by God to have pain in childbearing? And, I never wanted to give birth to anything, so I understood even less, the laboring woman’s plight. More than 30 years past nursing school and at the end of my nursing career, I can assure myself that I did my best and advocated for my patients at all times. However, I admit that I have seen patients in the emergency room entering the area for the same dumb things that were done 30+ years ago; some things never change. You were VERY brave to provide this story! I can remember the piano lessons my mother forced me to take for nearly 2 years starting at age 9. My piano teacher was a wise and aged woman and knew early on that I did not have my heart in those lessons. SHE was the one who kindly offered to explain to my mother why we would be no longer having piano lessons. Life is certainly a journey, and it’s no surprise that we take missteps along the way. As long as no one is harmed by our missteps, then those steps weren’t all that bad. At least we ventured into unknown territory and TRIED to check out the unknown. And writing is such a noble thing Carolyn. These “younger folks” today have, I think, sadly forgotten the treasure that is the written and spoken word.
Thank you, Elaine, for sharing your experiences. Too many young people – especially those in high school and college – feel they must be the BEST or they are doomed. Failure is a learning experience. So what if this path leads to a dead end? There are hundreds of other paths to take. I always appreciate your comments! Hugs, Carolyn
Hello Carolyn, First, I hope we can meet someday perhaps at a writers’ function. My son is about to graduate college and the pressure to succeed is overwhelming, especially since he must enter grad school immediately, so every grade matters. What a timely piece you wrote!
Elaine, I hope so. I’m still plugging along on the book about Dr. Funkhouser and the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant. Good luck to your son in grad school!