I use to have my whole life planned out. From the age of 18 I could give you details of where I would be in 5, 10 and 50 years. Everything from how my career would develop (become a registered nurse, get two years of experience in the military, return to do my medical degree, a nice long career in the Canadian Forces with many deployments, and then retirement at the mandatory age.) Then life started to happen and my perfect life path started getting rocky so I started making more plans. I had plans B through to G and contingencies for all of them. Then, due to an injury, all those plans got scrapped and I ended up not on the path I had planned since I was a teen but the road not chosen. (Hence the title of my blog.) It’s been 4 months since my medical release from the military and I have been slowly rebuilding my life.
The problem is that for a girl who once had a plan for everything I’m not so sure that I can trust what I plan to come next. Losing my dreams was not just hard and painful it also led to a lot of uncertainty. While I was graduating and most of my nursing friends were pulling their lives together and getting their first real job my life was unraveling and I was losing the only job I had ever wanted. I was terrified while waiting for my small salary to end because I had no idea how to replace it. A nurse with no experience who cannot stand for more then an hour or two is not someone most hospitals will hire.
Things have got better in the past four months, a job that I really enjoy was offered to me by the father of a friend. I’m hoping to start a master in the fall and have even set down roots in a nice small town. Still thinking back to 6 months ago puts my stomach in knots and I’m hesitant to make long term plans, I now know how easily it can all come apart. That said I’ve learned a lot from what I’ve been through.
1. Make your plans dynamic. It’s great to have your eye on that perfect job, but don’t let your dedication to one option blind you of all the other options that are out there. I ended up in research and am sad to say I never considered it while doing my training because it simply didn’t fit into what my vision of what a military nurse/doctor did. (Even though many medical personnel in the military profession do research.)
2. Embrace change. It can hurt, and can you feel that you’ve lost something but change forces you to grow. None of us can ever stand still as much as we may want to. Keep your feet moving forward so that if one path gets blocked you can easily continue on another.
3. I am strong, capable and talented. Having the rug pulled out from under me showed my just how capable I am of providing for myself. I navigated a system that can only be described as a bureaucratic nightmare and came away with what I needed. I found a job because someone I had never met before started talking with me and decided that I would be an asset to his company. I didn’t need to move home and have my parents take care of me (though I did camp out there a couple of weekend while house hunting) instead I bought my own home at 22, with money that I alone had earned and saved. I took care of myself when things got rough and if necessary I can do it again. And guess what? You can do it too.
I still have big dreams for my future but now I know that they won’t turn out the way I see them today. They are going to change as I move towards them. Some will have to be put on the back burner at points, but at the same time new ones will appear. Planning for the future isn’t about having all the right answers; it’s about being willing to ask the right questions.