The stress of change

I’ve spent a lot of time feeling (very) comfortable in my role as a clinical Nurse/Supervisor for more than 30 years. I got to the point in my career where it felt like “home”, walking through the hospital, with cardiac monitors alarming and call bells ringing, and the hustle and bustle of nurses and clinical staff running into patient rooms responding to help. It’s a well-earned level of expertise that gives one a feeling of confidence that strengthens your spirit, and puts you in a state of catlike readiness to handle the unexpected crisis’ that occur when you least expect it. It’s what I know, and what I love; it’s my life… well, it was my life.

But now everything has changed, and I can’t remember when I’ve ever felt this stressed-out. Between a recent surgery, selling my house in the state where I was born and raised, building a new house in a different state, and changing jobs, sometimes I don’t know where to start on my colossal list of “things-to-do”. It’s overwhelming, and I just want to press “pause” on this big, blue marble called Earth, and basically just take a long nap. My confidence level at work is at an all-time low. My new job is so different from what I have known, it challenges me in ways that I never anticipated. Being challenged is not a bad thing, but it makes me feel very uncomfortable being so inexperienced, and dare I say, “stupid”? It’s a feeling of complete vulnerability, which is the absolute worst, at least it is for me.

We all make life and career choices every day; for better or worse, and sometimes, with just a leap of faith that it’s the right thing to do. What we don’t see when we are making these difficult choices, is the future outcome. I guess that’s what is so exciting. It’s a new beginning, and sometimes the hardest things in life turn out to be the most rewarding.

Vulnerability Sucks

Being vulnerable sucks and I struggle with it on a daily basis. I have opened up and been vulnerable to people whom I trusted, and it backfired (badly). Instead of feeling brave and free, I felt shame. I believe that being vulnerable has the ability to be great, but it can also go inconceivably wrong in many ways. The disappointment can be brutal; the personal rejection of who you are, and what you stand for, is soul-crushing. Trust is broken, and that is difficult to overcome.

Brené Brown (2010) speaks (and writes) about the courage of being vulnerable: “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage”. But being vulnerable is painstakingly uncomfortable; it’s not “safe” to share your thoughts (good and bad), feelings, opinions, and especially one’s heart, when there is no guarantee that we won’t face rejection in some way or form, as a result. For those of you who know me well, you know that I put up a fierce wall around my heart years ago. It protected me from experiencing (yet another) ending that inevitably would disappoint, and hurt like hell. So I numbed myself to even the possibility of what could be. Brown (2010) affirms that when you numb vulnerability, you are basically trying to take the pain away from your emotions (i.e. grief, shame, disappointment). Unfortunately, by being numb, you also miss out on the potential to feel joy, and be hopeful about what the future may hold. But having hope can be just as scary as allowing yourself to be vulnerable… maybe even more so, because without hope, you have nothing.

Being vulnerable is scary; especially if you haven’t learned to fly.

Over-sharing?

When I “share” my life and (occassionally… well, maybe more than occassionally) my opinions on my blog or other forms of social media, I open myself up to critique and judgement. It happens all the time; there is always that angry text, or DM meme, that soon follows, insulting my opinion and telling me that I am “wrong”. When it comes to politics (especially lately), people don’t usually budge from their “I’m right and you’re wrong, so shut up” opinion. I just want to know one thing…when did it become acceptable to experience anger and rage because someone has a different viewpoint than you? The “facts” become skewed, and the uncertain, becomes certain, whether it is true or not. Blame is thrown around as if my opinion started a war. Anger erupts, and manners are thrown out the window.

How many of us have asked this same question?

We pretend that what we do, or say, doesn’t have an impact on others; but it does. For every “effect”, there is a “cause”. “If you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have done this…”. It is all very predictable. Widely known are the words from Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. It’s all about the choices we make; be it “safe and comfortable” (what we already know), or take another route, for better or worse, and make it an adventure. As for me, I haven’t always made the best choices, and I don’t have any words of wisdom to give you about sharing varying degrees of vulnerability with others in a less awkward, and more comfortable, manner… but if I figure it out, I will share it with you. I promise.

Reference:

Brown, B. (2010). The power of vulnerability; TED talks. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability