“A hundred years from now it won’t matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
I have wanted to be a nurse ever since I began a ski patrol junior program at the age of fourteen. I wanted to do MSF (doctors without borders), expedition medicine, and someday, life flight. It seemed like the perfect career for me since it combined my love of adrenaline and travel with a way to make money. I have finished all the prerequisites for the program, and got 93rd percentile on the entrance exam I took last summer. My plan was to take three years off (my exams are only good for three years), then go back and finish the program in order to start my career as a nurse.
That is until a few months ago when one night, all of a sudden, I decided I didn’t want to be a nurse anymore. Sure, I would still love to do travel or expedition nursing, but unfortunately, to work in the specific fields I am interested in, you first need years of experience in a hospital. And unfortunately that is something I could never do. I don’t agree with our healthcare system (keeping people alive artificially no matter what), and I know I would not be able to cop with working in an environment I feel so strongly opposed to. Plus, as much as I love to travel, I do at some point want a home and a family, and a career of expedition nursing does not at all coincide with those dreams. In a way it is one or the other, and I have made my decision which one is more important to me. After six years of knowing exactly what I wanted to do it was interesting to realize all of a sudden one night as I was lying in bed that that is not what my life will look like after all.
So what’s my new plan? To travel. I don’t mean indefinitely, but I do mean for at least the next few years. And from there, we will see. Maybe I will be able to land myself a travel related job given my vast experience. Maybe I will open my own small cafe in Bend, or maybe I will move to Africa and work in an orphanage. And maybe I will go back to school for a few years and become a teacher. What it comes down to is the fact that it isn’t my career who will define me, and I am not set on having just one job for the rest of my life. Thought I could easily see myself becoming a teacher later on (or some other children related job), I am in no rush to decide anything this instant, as I know my plans will continue to evolve as they always have.
This change of heart is a great example of why traveling while you are young is such an advantage. Though I was a hundred percent sure I wanted to be a nurse, in retrospect, I wouldn’t have lasted long in the profession before burning out, and I am quite happy to have realized that before putting in all the hours at school. Traveling forces you to get to know yourself, what you like and don’t like and what you value, and it also presents job opportunities (such as teaching English which I will do at some point) which gives you a little taste of a career to see if you enjoy it enough to see it through.
American culture is focused on planning one’s life instead of living one’s life. I have had 3 major careers in my life – teacher, accountant, and hospitality manager. But I am a poet, photographer, and servant.
I vote Bend just because we miss having you on the same continent!