Bittersweet accomplishment

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals” – Henry David Thoreau

Today is my last official day of class for my Master’s program. My final assignment was to write a paper reflecting on my successes in the program, and discuss future opportunities that having my Master’s degree will provide. It sounds like a simple task, but I struggled with it for days. I am overcome with emotion, wishing that my father, who was so proud of me for returning to school, could be here to celebrate with me. My father was my biggest cheerleader, and he never missed an opportunity to brag about his daughter, the nurse, who is “getting her Master’s degree”. When he grew very sick, he would ask me how many weeks I had left until I graduated; the countdown began. Both of us acutely aware of the possibility of running out of time. In the end, he just couldn’t hold on any longer. With only a few weeks left until completion, I did my best to continue my school work while I grieved, and finish what I had started two years ago.

As I reflect on my experiences in my Master’s program, I realize that had it not been for the support and encouragement of my friends and colleagues, I might not have taken the first step to register and “see what all the fuss was about”.  Making the decision to begin a graduate program as I was approaching my half-a-century milestone was not an easy one. It was something that I had been wanting to do, yes, but I didn’t have the confidence in myself to be able to return to school at my age. I was content in my job as a Nurse Manager and more importantly, I still loved nursing. That first step was terrifying, but it led to a second step, then another, and so on… We don’t always get second chances, but if you are considering going back to school (at any age), I would encourage you to do so; it will be worth it in the end.

According to Sandberg & Grant (2017), we learn more from failure than from success; the bigger the failure, the more we learn because we scrutinize it more closely. As nurses, we will be faced with many challenges throughout our careers, and learning how to adapt to changes, and inspire others to do the same, will be very valuable to our future success.



Sandberg, S., & Grant, A. (2017). Option B: Facing adversity, building resilience, and finding  joy. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf

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