[…and why it has taken so long to find it]
I have been inspired this week by Kath Evans – Director of Children’s Nursing for Barts Health NHS Trust. She posted a blog recently about her new role and her ‘why’ – what she is inspired by, her aspirations, her vision and, importantly, how she carves time out for herself so she can make it all happen. You can read her post here: https://kathevans.com/2019/04/05/movingon-cypbartshealth-wecare-values-teamwork-balconytime/
One of the graphics she used simply said “Find your why”. We all have one, I am convinced of that. Every one of us has an ‘origin story’, a reason for why we do what we do. Nursing is not easy, many will attest to that and yet we do it anyway. We do it because we love it. We do it because we have a ‘why’…
Whats ‘the why’?
Our experiences in life shape us and change us. Good ones and bad. Wanted and unwanted. They are like chapters in a book. Sometimes they write themselves without us even realising it. It can take years for you to look back at your story to even know how much they have influenced your journey – those moments where it is like you have picked up the book of your life and for the first time finally understand the plot.
So much of what I have done up until now is because I felt I was good at it. I became a teaching assistant because I’m good with children; I taught first aid because I was good at it; I played rugby because I was good at it. So much of my self worth and decision making up until recently has been based on how good I think I will be at something. Just as I have done countless times before, I came into nursing believing I might be good at it. I honestly don’t think until last year I had ever considered the real reasons behind why I had made that decision. Certainly until a couple of days ago never truly seen my ‘why’ in all its glory.
For me, the ‘why’ is so much more than feeling or knowing you are good at something. It’s part of it for sure, but it’s not the whole story. The ‘why’ is what motivates you to put on your uniform even when you’ve already worked 3 long days. It’s what keeps you going even when you have moments of self doubt. It’s what you think back to when the proverbial hits the fan. It can be rooted in professional or personal circumstances. But whatever it is, for me, it’s the thing that makes you strive for more.
Nursing has been my greatest journey. It has given me more purpose, more motivation, more passion than I ever thought possible. It has also been my hardest journey. I have had to learn so many hard lessons these past couple of years. I have had to re-read chapters of ‘my book’ that I never thought I would have to. Those chapters have often clouded my joy and I am utterly convinced they have clouded my ‘why’. Those clouds, those dark memories I have tried so hard for so long to suppress were shrouding something bittersweet and beautiful.
Without those lessons though I could never have re-read those chapters with fresh eyes, could never have learned from them or made sense of them. You will have seen glimmers of my why in my blog posts I know it, because I can too now I look back.
Those who follow my blog will know that I want, with all of my heart, to pursue Neuro Nursing in memory of my daddy. It’s my ‘what’, but it’s not my ‘why’. There has been a definite but very subtle shift in my attitude since I came into nursing. Let me explain…
As I sat reading Kath’s blog, as I saw that graphic, so much came into focus. It was as if someone said “You don’t need to find your ‘why’ Deb, it’s already there”.
It was there when I dealt with daddy’s seizures in the street. It was there when I saw him cry for the first and only time. It was there when the coroner’s report came in. It was there when I got so angry I wanted to hurt myself. It was there when I saw a patient wearing the exact same pyjamas my dad once owned. It was there as Andy and I wrote our article on SUDEP…
Heres the key. Heres my ‘why’: My desire to be good has been replaced by a desire to make good.
Oprah Winfrey once said “turn your wounds into wisdom”. Right now, I don’t think anything could encapsulate how I feel more. Oh how I wish I could go back in time sometimes. To be able to place myself in the right places at the right times so Daddy knew he wasn’t alone. That something could be done. That this was a battle he didn’t need to lose. But without those experiences gang, I wouldn’t be here right now.
My why is going be everything I need to make a difference in my career. It will be the motivation I need to pursue research and academia. It will give me the courage to stand up and advocate for those who don’t feel listened to. It will undoubtedly help me to help others.
Scars tell a story, but I think my scars are going to help write one too. Finding a ‘why’ is the most beautiful bitter sweet gift that daddy never knew he gave me. Where once seeing glimmers of him in my job made me sad, now it fuels a fire. It burns bright and it burns hot and I hope it burns for decades to come.
My experiences have shaped my why. My why will shape my future.
Whats your why?