An Ode to Mediocrity- Or Is It?


If you know me, you know that I have always been, & likely will always be, a perfectionist at heart. An over-achiever. A bit OCD, if you will, but not to the point of having the TRUE disorder. So it should come as no surprise to hear that I got into nursing with the goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. I saw it as the cheaper way to become a doctor (or rather something similar enough to a doctor) since I had a full scholarship to nursing school. And I had no problem working as an RN for several years in order to get there. Initially I thought “Ok, I’ll do 3-5 years as a bedside hospital nurse & then I’ll go back to school.” Well, five years went by & the unthinkable happened: I decided to become a mom! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that for many years I said I never wanted children. But somewhere around age 25 or 26 I changed my mind. Believe me when I say it wasn’t a flippant decision either. It was something that happened gradually & that I put a monumental amount of thought into- if anything TOO much thought, as I am often known to over-analyze things.

Anyway, around that same time in my life, I realized that becoming an NP just didn’t interest me that much anymore. It’s not that I didn’t/don’t think I was/am smart enough to do it- I had/have no doubt in my mind I could do it if I wanted to. Many doctors & NPs I’ve worked with over the years have told me I’d be a great NP, just as they’ve also told me I’d be a great ICU nurse- but I’ve never wanted that either, for a variety of reasons. The simple truth is I realized being an NP just wasn’t what I WANTED anymore. Now, five years later, I feel even more strongly about this issue. The longer I’ve been a nurse, the more I realize that I don’t agree with certain things that the medical system teaches/does, so being an NP would put me in way too many ethical dilemmas that I don’t want to have to face. Furthermore, as a mom of a small child, I don’t want to take call overnight & on weekends. I don’t want to come home & have a mountain of charting to do. Simply put, I don’t want a job that follows me home & dominates my life 24/7. I had enough of that experience when I briefly did nursing management & I realized that life it is NOT for me. Or at least it isn’t at this stage in my life. Obviously I can’t predict how I may feel in ten or twenty years, just as I didn’t predict I’d eventually want to become a mom (ok, deep down, I knew I’d probably change my mind on that but I fought against it for a long time, believe me).

I know plenty of women my age (& younger) who have gone back to school when they have young children, but I for one cannot even begin to fathom the stress of doing that on top of having a young child. Maybe I just find motherhood more stressful than some women do. Or maybe I just value my own happiness too much. But if there is one thing I’ve learned in a decade of nursing it’s that life is way too short to be anything but happy as much of the time as we can. As someone who struggles with anxiety & depression & OCD tendencies, the last thing I need is to overload my life with too many things going on at once. I’m in awe of those who are able to do it & seem to not just survive but actually thrive. But I know my limits. And I’m not pushing them. Plus, if nothing else, there is no age limit on when I can go back to school if I do decide to pursue that path someday. It’s not like you can’t get a master’s degree in your 40s or 50s (or older)! On the other hand, my daughter will NOT be young forever. Someday she will need me a lot less than she does now. Trust me when I say that I look forward to that more than maybe I should some days. But at the same time I refuse to give up time with her now when I know she is still very much in her formative years. To be clear, I’m not judging anyone who chooses a different path than I have. We all have different personalities & needs, as do our kids- this is just what I’ve found makes sense for ME.

As much as I love nursing, some days I actually dream about becoming a high school English (or maybe even history) teacher. I would love the chance to grapple deep subjects with young minds. But as with being an NP, there are so many things I disagree with about the modern education system. The idea of doing lesson plans makes me cringe. The idea of enforcing dress codes makes me cringe. Furthermore, I’d probably get fired for choosing books almost entirely from the various banned books lists (keep in mind the Bible is on many of those lists so it’s not as narrow of a range of books as you may think). Not to mention there is the sad fact that I’d be making considerably less money as a teacher than I do as a nurse (even working part time). And I’m not going to lie, I don’t want to take a pay cut, especially since I’d have to pay to go back to school to pursue such a career.

What I’m getting at here is that I so often find myself as odds with “the system.” I’m a great rule follower when it comes to following protocols for things like starting an IV, inserting a foley catheter, taking a BP, etc. That kind of stuff is very evidence-based, very tangible. But there are other part of our medical system that are not so evidence-based, in my opinion, but are still done because they benefit the system itself (or the various pharmaceutical companies) or they’re just “the way it’s always been done.” Anyway, on a similar token, if I were a teacher I think I’d be great at getting kids to have in depth discussions about serious life matters. But I’d probably be horrible at some of the more practical aspects of teaching, like lesson plans & grading homework.

I guess what I’m saying is there are so many things in life I think I could accomplish, but there are so many hoops I’d have to jump through, so much unnecessary red tape to battle, that I find myself for once in my life being satisfied with what some might call mediocrity. Being a part time outpatient nurse, partly because the schedule is beneficial to my husband’s career (meaning I’m more available for our daughter when he sometimes isn’t), is certainly something I would have called mediocre a decade ago. But you know what? I’m happy! I don’t mean I never feel sad or disappointed or scared or anxious. Trust me, in truth I’m naturally a bit of a melancholy person. But overall, I am very content with my life. And if that means having a bit more of a traditional role than perhaps I envisioned for myself, so be it. After all, it’s not like I’m stuck at home all day every day. It’s not like I do all the housework while my husband does none. No way! I could never stand for that, as I mentioned in my last blog post. The way I see it is I get the best of both worlds & if that means I’ve settled for mediocrity, for once in my life, I am content with that.

I’m not really sure what the point of all this was, other than to settle my own overly analytic brain. But that’s a point in & of itself, is it not? Anyway, if your life hasn’t turned out quite the way you imagined, if you’ve made different choices than you thought you would, even done things you said you’d never do, just know that you’re not alone. And as long as you’re happy with your choices, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. After all- no one else’s opinion is paying your bills or raising your children. No one else has to sleep with your conscience at night.

In conclusion, I never thought my life would lead me where it has now. Actually, maybe that’s being a bit more dramatic than is strictly necessary. But the point is, my life hasn’t followed the trajectory I would have predicted years ago, nor the trajectory many folks who knew me as a child or teenager might have predicted. But I am happy where I am, & I’m learning that the destination truly isn’t half as important as the journey along the way. I don’t say that to make excuses for bad decisions either. I say that because I’ve realized that it’s ok to change your goals, it’s ok to be something or someone different than you were in the past or than you pictured yourself becoming. If something you once thought would be mediocre (or even lame) makes you happy now, embrace it. True mediocrity, in my opinion, is refusing to be flexible, refusing to adapt to the stages of life. True mediocrity is not doing whatever makes you happiest & most fulfilled.

And based on that definition, I don’t think my life is mediocre at all.

And you never know- maybe I’ll run a book club someday & that will fulfill my fantasy of being an English/literature teacher without having to deal with “the system” & all the red tape it entails!

10 Reasons Why Growing Up Doesn’t Actually Suck


It doesn’t take a genius to realize that our modern society values youth very highly.  Turn on the TV or flip through any magazine & you will be greeted with a veritable host of ads showcasing products that proclaim they can “erase wrinkles,” “cover up greys,” or “give you the energy of youth,” etc, etc.  In the media we are constantly assaulted with pictures of young hot celebrities & on a more day-to-day level we inevitably hear people making comments about how much getting old & growing up sucks.  Since graduating from college I have even noticed a difference in the things I see on Facebook.  I now see a lot of statuses about how much “real life” sucks & there seems to be a ridiculous amount of nostalgia going around for the innocence & simplicity of childhood.  Now I for one spent a great deal of my childhood & adolescence pining for adulthood & the freedoms it would bring.  Perhaps in some ways it’s sad that I didn’t just enjoy my life to the fullest at those stages as I suppose most kids/teens do.  But I have to say that even though being an adult is hard, I for one am not disappointed at all.  I am happier now than I’ve ever been.  One of my greatest goals in life is to always retain the energy & vibrancy of youth while balancing this with the wisdom & serenity of getting older.  So today I thought I’d compile a list of reasons why growing up doesn’t actually suck.  In truth there are a lot of things I LOVE about getting older & I think our society could certainly use a reminder of these things from time to time, so here we go:

growing up

  1. Growing up means no longer having to obsess over every facet of your appearance.  I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but when I was a teenager I spent entirely too much time worrying about every tiny bit of my appearance.  If even one hair was out of line, I was sure I looked horrible & that everyone was secretly laughing at me.  Though I’ve never been the type to really follow fashion trends, I still felt the need to be as “in style” as possible.  Well, one of the great things about getting older is the ability to just not give a crap about such things.  And to know that you are better off because of it.  I don’t mean that I don’t care about looking my best; I certainly do.  But if I have a “bad hair day” or a day when my acne is acting up & making my face look like a teenager’s all over again, I have the maturity to know that this too shall pass.  I also know that if anyone thinks less of me for not wearing the trendiest clothes or not having perfect skin or anything superficial like that, then those people aren’t worth worrying about anyway.  I’m far from the confident person I hope to be someday but I’ve also come a long way from the girl I used to be, & I’m proud of that.
  2. Growing up means realizing that your mom was right when she said it was more important to be respected than to be liked.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m a born people-pleaser.  It just comes naturally to me to want to make others happy & to be well-liked by everyone.  But I have learned to temper that when necessary because I have discovered that it truly is impossible to please everyone all the time.  And that’s ok.  It’s just life.
  3. Stemming from the last point, getting older means having the courage to say no to people who are just trying to use you to their own advantage.  It means having enough self-respect to not waste your valuable time on people who don’t actually care about you.  Getting older means realizing that your worth is not diminished by those who do not recognize or appreciate you.  This gives you the confidence to say no to those who do not actually have your best interests at heart.
  4. Getting older means not having to panic every time something doesn’t go “your way.”  It means realizing that just because you’ve had a bad day or even a bad week, month, or year, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have a bad life.  And getting older means realizing that your attitude is the greatest determinant in your own happiness.  (This is both scary & enlightening.  I could write a whole blog post on this subject & I probably will soon.)
  5. Getting older means learning how to agree to disagree.  It means building friendships with people who are vastly different from you & instead of trying to “convert” them you are content to learn from each other & use your differences to build a stronger relationship.
  6. Getting older means independence.  Ah, what a glorious word!  This is what I longed for so much as a child.  I know most people end up regretting such longings because they say the price of freedom is too great.  But I disagree.  I think if you make good decisions in life, you will set yourself up for success & you’ll be able to reap the rewards of independence to the fullest.  I love that as an adult I can choose my career, my spouse, where I live, what house to buy, what to wear, who to be friends with, where to go to school, what to eat, basically everything!
  7. Growing up means realizing that there is no one right way for everyone in life.  There’s nothing more freeing than understanding that there is no exact prescription for success that every person must follow.  Growing up means having the freedom to make mistakes & learn from them.
  8. Growing up means realizing that sometimes life sucks.  It means looking evil in the face & realizing that this world is a cold & scary place.  (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme…)  I know this must seem like a bad thing.  And it’s this loss of innocence that so many people mourn so greatly.  But I’ve never understood why people celebrate innocence so much.  It’s nothing more than an illusion.  For of what value is happiness if it’s based on something that is fake?  To me that’s what “innocence” is.  It’s the happiness that comes from not realizing how bad the world can really be.  I think the happiness we can experience as adults is all the greater because we have had to see so many of the dark sides of life too.  Which is of greater value: the happiness of a child who does not yet understand the world or the happiness of an adult who has looked into the pit of hell, faced the monsters of the world, & come out alive?  Maybe I was a weird child (ok, who am I kidding, I was DEFINITELY a weird child for a number of reasons), but I don’t ever remember feeling the type of blissfully ignorant happiness that people always talk about children experiencing.  In any case, I believe the happiness & love we can experience as adults is all the greater because it’s a real choice.  We have chosen to seek joy even though we have seen that life is often cruel & unfair.  We have chosen to seek peace even though we know that life can be violent to even the meekest of us.  This thought process requires a bit of mental gymnastics at times but I truly believe I am happier now than I’ve ever been.  Yes, I have days when I look at the world & feel like there’s no hope.  But those days aren’t the norm & when they do happen I have the wisdom to know those feelings will pass.  Whew, that was a deep one.
  9. Growing up means realizing that the journey is as important as the destination.  It means understanding that life is short & we truly must live every day like it’s our last, as cliché as that may be.
  10. Getting older means realizing that just because your life isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it isn’t great.  It’s so easy to look in the mirror & think “I’d be so much prettier if my nose were just a little straighter” or “I’d be so much happier if I could afford that fancy car I’ve always wanted” or any number of such things.  It’s so easy to compare yourself to your friends, coworkers, or even celebrities & feel like your life just doesn’t measure up.  But growing up means realizing that everyone’s life isn’t measured against the same yardstick.  We all have our own meter for success & happiness & that’s the only one that really matters.

 As an addendum, if anyone wants to help me create better titles for my blog posts, that would be awesome.  I like to think I’m a pretty decent writer but when it comes to creating titles for papers, essays, poems, or blog posts, I’m always at a loss, as you can clearly see by the super clever title of this post.  😉

All Kinds of Kinds


Now some point a finger and let ignorance linger/If they’d look in the mirror they’d find/That ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning/It takes all kinds of kinds . . . ~ Miranda Lambert’s All Kinds of Kinds

People take different roads seeking fulfillment & happiness.  Just because they are not on your road does not mean they are lost.  ~ Dalai Lama

Dalai lama quote

Currently my mind is awash with various ideas that I want to write about but nothing much of value seems to be coming out of all this muddle.  You know that feeling when you have so many ideas that you can’t really settle on any of them?  Yeah, that’s where I am right now.  It’s times like this that I so desperately need to write & yet often when my mind is so overwhelmed like this I sit down to write & the words run away from me the way I run from a snake when I see one.

In all of this madness the two quotes at the beginning of this post keep coming back to me.  I’ve heard that Miranda Lambert song on the radio a few times lately & I keep finding myself looking it up on YouTube to listen to it again because the words strike such a chord with me.  The Dalai Lama quote is something I came across on Facebook last week & instantly loved.  This idea that there is no one right way for everyone is one of those universal truths that as an adult I keep stumbling upon.  I stay stumbling upon because it’s an idea that I really cherish & yet it’s one that I think we all struggle to really remember from day to day.  I don’t have any scientific backing for this, but I’m pretty sure it’s wired into our DNA somewhere to compare ourselves to each other, perhaps women being the worst perpetrators here.  As much as I love the internet & truly believe that social media can enhance our lives for the better, sadly such things can also encourage that innate drive to compare ourselves to everyone around us.  The unfortunate result of such comparisons is usually one of two things.  First, we often find ourselves feeling inadequate because we inevitably see others who we PERCEIVE are prettier, skinnier, richer, smarter, more successful, etc than ourselves.  Second, we often find ourselves criticizing others because we do not agree with certain aspects of our lives.  I believe it is a sign of our own insecurity that we are so often quick to judge others instead of relishing the fact that not everyone is just like us.  Instead of feeling either inadequate or self-righteous when we see others living differently than us, we ought to be thankful that in truth “to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds.”  Just think how boring the world would be if we were all alike?  One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is that when I open myself up to new ideas, new ways of thinking, & new experiences, that is when I really learn & that is often when I feel most alive.

Now I realize this thought process could lead to some dangerous territory if we took it too literally.  Obviously there are some things like child molestation & murder that as a society we have to reject as immoral.  We cannot accept ALL behaviors or else the world would be even more chaotic than it already is.  As with almost everything in life, it all comes back to “everything in moderation.”  I truly believe if we could all learn these concepts, the world would be a better, more peaceful place.

As I’m writing this I sincerely hope I don’t come across as arrogant or preachy.  I’m as guilty of not following these principles as anyone.  But I’m working on it.  And that’s what matters: the everyday continual process of effecting change, & that process always starts inside each & every one of us.  As with everything, some days it will be easier than others.  And some days it will be harder.  I am grateful that I have so many friends from so many different walks of life with so many different belief systems who continually challenge me & help me to become more & more tolerant, educated, & compassionate toward the world at large.  Y’all know who you are.  And I thank you for accepting my Type A, mildly OCD (but only about some things!), high-anxiety, questionably crazy kind.