Confidence v. Competence

Confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s own appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. Competence: The ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

One can have either of those, without having the other. I’ve seen high levels of confidence accompany a mediocre performance. I’ve also seen experts who still harbor self- doubts. Generally speaking; however, it’s expected that increased competence leads to increased confidence. That’s the theory, anyway.

As a new nurse, my confidence in my ability to perform skills competently is somewhat . . . . shall I say, lacking? It’s not non-existent, but it’s certainly shaky. I question myself almost constantly, because I’m worried about the potential of making a mistake. I even hesitate when performing skills that I’m fairly comfortable with – like taking medications out of the system, reconstituting antibiotics, and documenting things on the computer.

I may be competent at those things, but confidence hasn’t come along, yet.

Other things, that I feel less comfortable doing or have only done with the supervision of my preceptor, are enough to make me doubt my decision to become a nurse. Those same things, once done, also make me feel positively elated.

My last two shifts were very good ones, all things considered. I got to try some new skills and I succeeded at some others without help for the first time. I hung an IV antibiotic entirely on my own. I called a doctor’s office to pass on a patient’s request. I gave report on my two patients at the end of the day and the oncoming nurse didn’t have to hunt me down for additional information. My preceptor guided me through de-accessing a port, drawing blood from a PICC line, and documenting the phone call to the doctor’s office.

I did well enough that she’s declared that I’ll have three patients during my next shift, which happens to be tomorrow. I only had two for a total of three days. That’s a good thing, because I’ve only got another seven weeks of orientation to go through before I’ll be expected to be able to handle six patients more or less on my own.

I say more or less, because even the nurses who have been on the floor for months or years still ask each other and even more experienced nurses for help. During one shift, I saw a nurse ask another whether or not it was appropriate to give a patient all three blood pressure meds that were ordered. On another, I saw two nurses reach out to a third for help starting an IV that they didn’t feel comfortable trying. Another day, a nurse on the floor asked for help starting a Foley catheter, because it’d been months since her last and she was worried that she didn’t remember all the steps.

The patient that needed blood drawn from her PICC line was also the patient I hung the IV antibiotic for. The blood draw came first and my preceptor talked me through it. I have to admit that it wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined it would be. The steps are fairly simple, really, and I could write them out now just from memory. Hanging the IV antibiotic was actually harder for me, because I’m intimidated by the pumps and the tubing. It doesn’t feel simple to me, for some reason. Yet, it’s essential that I figure out how to work the pumps competently.

After I did get it hung and her connected and was cleaning up my mess from the process (alcohol wipes, tubing wrappers, and empty flushes), she said, “You know, you did that quite well. You’ll be a very good nurse, once your confidence goes up. You know how to do the things, you just need that confidence in yourself.”

I thanked her, sincerely, and told her I’d be back to check on her in a while. She’d been a nurse for thirty years (half of that time spent in Ireland, where she’s from) and we’d been having micro-conversations throughout the shift. She’s a fan of medical texts, wants her master’s degree in alternative medicine, and likes cats.

She thinks that, one day, I’ll be just as good a nurse as any other.

I hope she’s right. I really, really do. I’d hate to disappoint.

Words, of course, can have multiple meanings. Context and intent are important. Another definition of confidence is actually, the feeling or belief that one can rely upon something; firm trust. It’s similar to the other definition, but somehow strikes a stronger chord in me. I don’t merely want confidence insofar as it means to feel self-assured . . . I want it insofar as I want to feel that I can trust myself, rely upon myself.

Of course, trust takes time to build between people. Why should I think that it won’t take time to build with myself? I’ve already come a long way.

I haven’t been brought to tears by anything that’s happened at the hospital. I’ve learned a ton and I’m still learning a ton. I’ve made a few small “mistakes” – quotes, because my preceptor says they’re not actually mistakes – but I keep trying and am getting better.

Ah, but now this feels like one of those cheesy 60-second commercials for Building-a-Better-You in just five minutes a day. Get the handbook for just $9,99 plus shipping and handling! Guaranteed to boost your confidence, improve your mood, and brighten your outlook, or your money back!

Presented to you by the fabulous Billy Mays. Duh.

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Limitations

Personal growth is a funny thing.

Trying to be mindful of it while it’s actually happening is akin to trying to watch grass grow. It doesn’t seem like anything is happening while it’s happening . . . but when you watch a time-lapse of it or see a before and after picture the changes are glaringly obvious. In the same way, it’s not by watching the second hand that we can see and appreciate the changes in ourselves, but in looking back across a span of time.

One of the features that FaceBook has rolled out in recent times is the presentation of FaceBook “memories” – posts that you made on the same date, in previous years. This feature has been met with some mixed reviews .After all, who honestly wants to be reminded of the exact day their dog died when they happen to be on a beach holiday? Or, on the other hand, who wants to see how thrilled they were in the early days of their relationship with the person they’re about to divorce?

Still, it can be interesting to look back at what you were posting about three, four, or even five years ago.

Two weeks ago, one of my “memories” was a post from five years ago. In it, I talked about being overwhelmed by the thought of working 45 hours in a week and related that my boss at the time must think of me as some sort of super-girl. I was stressed out.

Reading it when it popped up, I laughed, because I’d just worked six days straight for a total of about 65 hours. I pointed it out to my other, who I’d been with at the time. He laughed – both at the drama of the original post and at my own amusement with it.

Now, it’s Monday and I’m taking a day off from both of my current jobs. I wasn’t scheduled to work at the hospital, which means that I was scheduled to work at the call center. I texted my boss there and let her know that I wouldn’t be coming in due to general mental/physical/emotion exhaustion.

I worked seven days last week for a grand total of just over 75 hours – four days at the hospital doing 12.5 hour shifts and the others at the call center doing nearly the same.

This morning, I woke up with the intention of going to work, even though everyone – including my mother, co-workers at both places, and SO – told me to take the day off.

Then, I cried, because we’re out of peanut butter. And again, because I dropped a sock.

I recognized that I reached my limit, for the time being. I required time to recharge. I poured a bowl of Reece’s puffs and watched HGTV for a couple hours. I read a little. I cleared out my email and finally sorted through all of my hospital orientation paperwork. I ate some chocolate. I’m writing this blog post.

I thought, “The me of five years ago would have had a full blown anxiety attack at the mere mention of working 75 hours in a week. I pushed my limits by doing it, but I now know that I can do it, if I really need to. I also know that I don’t want to do it.”

Limitations are strange things. They can be shifted by choice, by chance, and by necessity . . . but it’s been my experience that most people wait until necessity demands.

Personal growth and shifting limitations are like two sides of the same coin . . . you don’t have one without embracing the other. Growth is change, but it’s a type of change that is almost unanimously seen as positive. Shifting limitations also denote change, but the connotation can range from wonderfully awe-inspiring to depressingly constrictive. One is upward and outward, but the other could be that or could be downward and inward.

I’d never gave these things much thought, until recently, but then I realized that I thought of limitations as being synonymous with boundaries. I also viewed both rather negatively. Not as obstacles that could be challenged or even overcome, but as virtually inescapable boxes that I found myself locked within. Other, stronger individuals might find it within themselves to beat against the boxes until they broke or more intelligent people could find ways to exploit weaknesses in the construction . . . but I, having a primarily docile and contented nature would merely daydream about what may be beyond the box and not about how to leave it.

In fact, while imagining what might exist beyond the box was as good a pass-time as any, the thought of actually leaving the box was nothing short of terrifying. Because, while I may think spectacular things were outside of it, there could also be incredibly dangerous things. Even the process of getting out of the box could be painful and exhausting.

However . . . at some point in the past month that belief has shifted. Almost entirely due to one question that I’ve found myself asked by my co-workers at the hospital.

“Why did you decide to choose working in a hospital?”

I answered without thinking, the first time.

“Because personal growth is a good thing,” I said.

Later, I wondered why I’d said that. I mean, yes, I thought it was true. Growth is good, after all. Personal growth must, by default, also be good. But . . . growth also means pushing limits and boundaries, right? Is that what I’m doing? Did I do that by becoming a nurse, even thought the thought of the responsibilities involved made me feel nauseous? Am I still doing that by deciding to work in a hospital, even though I’d probably feel more comfortable in a nice, quiet doctor’s office or clinic?

. . . well . . . I guess I must be . . . right?

Right. Which means, in sum, that I am pushing my limits and finding new ones and becoming a “better” person for it all. It also means that, contrary to my usual way of thinking, limitations and boundaries aren’t boxes that I can never leave.

They are, actually, more like obstacles on a course. Or, in my nerdy brain, like quests in a video game. Both of which may be challenging to get through – maybe even brutal – but which lead to a two-fold outcome, most of the time. That outcome being 1) feelings of achievement/greater abilities/more experience and 2) the possibility of facing greater challenges/finding a new course or quest altogether.

My life doesn’t have to take place inside an indestructible box.

It can take place on a map and I can decide what turns to take and whether or not to abandon the path altogether for a time and if I want to stop to rest for a while.

Checking In

I truthfully didn’t realize how long it’s been since my last post. Looking back over the past twenty days, I’m a bit taken aback. I meant to stop and write a dozen different times and really have no excuses for not doing so. My evenings (which are relatively free) have been spent doing nothing more intense than sitting on the couch while I channel surf, for the most part. A few things have happened though.

  • I went to an interview with hospital B – they made a low offer, compared to hospital A. I told my acquaintance about it and he agreed that I’d be stupid to turn down hospital A. I’m slated to start orientation tomorrow.
  • I bought a scale, found out my actual weight for the first time in six months, and decided to try to make a lifestyle change. I joined Healthy Wage – a site that lets you bet X amount of money for X amount of months that you’ll lose X amount of weight . . . if you succeed, you’ll get a pay off, if not then you’re out the money you’ve put in. I’m betting putting in $25 a month for eight months with a weight loss goal of 50lbs. If I win, I”ll get a payoff of $770. I started last Sunday and I’m down 6.4lbs. I’ve walked a total of about 41,250 steps. I’ve upped my water intake and lowered my carb intake.
  • I was able to make it to the Flogging Molly concert Friday night and spent yesterday walking around Disney Springs with my other half. It was a great day for it and I actually ended up buying both my mom and my dad a Christmas present. My little sister sent back, “LMAO! You realize Christmas is like ten months away, right?” when I told her that, but I bought them both art and was worried it would be gone by the time Christmas rolled around. (Shout out to Nathan Szerdy – he’s a great artist and his site is nathanszerdyart.com – no I’m not being paid to shout out.)

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My goals for today are pretty basic, seeing as I’m not feeling particularly well.

  • Clean the apartment.
    • Including laundry
    • And vacuuming
  • Choose an outfit for tomorrow.
    • Make sure I have all my “nurse” things.
    • Decide what scrubs to wear.
  • Pick up car payment money from sissy.
  • Visit with Harley at work on the way there.
  • Stop and get mommy some flowers just cause.

Results

I passed the NCLEX-RN. I am now a registered nurse in the state of Florida.

To celebrate, I bought ice-cream from a local shop that’s basically heaven-on-earth as long as you’re not lactose intolerant and like ice-cream. My choice was peanut butter ice-cream with peanut butter cups and cheesecake pieces. Success was sweet, no doubt.

Now that I know I passed the NCLEX-RN, I’m finding myself more able to reflect on the test itself. Of course, upon pain of death, discussing test items is strictly prohibited. Honestly, I can’t say I actually remember any of the questions. I was so nervous, taking the exam, that it really does feel like a dream, in retrospect.

The test itself can have anywhere from 75 to 265 questions. Mine shut off at 75.

I knew that either meant I completely failed it or completely aced it.

Because I took the test on a Friday, I didn’t get my results until this afternoon. I paid about $8.00 to get them early, because I couldn’t stand waiting until tomorrow. After 48 hours of being certain I failed and wondering how I was going to study for a second attempt and being depressed over losing out on the offer for the oncology position I wanted . . . seeing the word PASS on my results page made me giggle maniacally.

Now, I’m having a celebratory beer and mac n’ cheese.

Mac n’ cheese is my favorite.

Tomorrow, I’ll create a proper post or maybe even two. Whist trying to kill time today, I completely cleared out and organized my closet/dresser. I donated a very large trash-bag worth of clothes. I think it would be fun to do a wardrobe based post and reflect back on it in six months or so, to see what’s changed and what hasn’t. Mainly, because I’ll be making enough to get more clothes and will – hopefully – lose enough weight to get back into some that don’t currently fit me.

Until then; however, I hope everyone enjoys the last hours of this Sunday night.

Sunday Morning Questions

I was up before the sun, but not before the birds.

As I stirred, my other rolled over and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Because, surely, something must be wrong in order for me to wake so early.

Today is Sunday, the only day I’m able to sleep in, this week.

“Can’t sleep,” I answered, stretching.

Time to make coffee.

 

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I perform a few of the same actions every morning, no matter what day of the week it is.

Brush my teeth, use a face cleanser, open the blinds, start the coffee, put on the TV for some background noise, spend some time browsing FaceBook and Pinterest.

This morning, on Pinterest, I found a list of thirty one questions to ask yourself in January. They’re meant to be journal prompts or things to blog about, I believe. I don’t technically journal anymore, though I have on and off since I was very young. Now, I blog. Even though it’s almost the end of January, I thought I’d have some personal reflection time this morning.

I’m not religious, but I do appreciate the quiet stillness of Sunday morning. Soon enough, my other will wake up and I’ll have to begin being productive in a more typical sense.

In the interest of not creating a ridiculously long blog post, I’m going to select just five questions – one for each week of the month. The questions I pick out will be the ones I find the most pertinent to January and my life in general.

 

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Question 1: What is your number one goal this year?

I have a lot of goals for this year, but they all hinge on one thing . . . money. I know, I know, money is the root of all evil and it can’t buy happiness and you can’t take it with you when you die. All those familiar expressions that get thrown around. Well, you know what? I don’t believe it. And my number one goal this year is to become financially stable. I want to have more than 0.02 cents in my saving account and I don’t want to have both my credit cards maxed out all of the time. I want to be able to order a coffee while I’m out, or buy a new pair of sneakers, or get real deli meat/cheese without freaking out.

Question 2: Can people change?

I was going to type, “Well, I certainly hope so,” but that’s not an honest statement. More accurate would be, “I know people can change, but I’m not sure if I can.” People around me tell me that I’ve changed drastically in the past eighteen months of nursing school. They say I’m more confident, more assertive, more poised . . . but I still feel like I’m faking those things. I’m terrified of making mistakes, still prefer to defer to others, and feel like I’m stumbling over myself more often than not. I think, really, the only thing that’s really changed is my reaction to those things. I try harder, now, to continue despite them. Instead of walking (or running) from a challenge, I’m more likely to approach it.

Question 3: What are you grateful for?

My sister – who is forever being patient and supportive. My other – who pushes me to believe that anything is possible. My parents – who raised me to be a free thinker. My boss – who let me continue working while in school. My coworkers – who provided encouragement and perspective during the school/work juggle.

Question 4: What are you looking for from life?

This question stymied me, so I ran a search with it in the field. Three main things came up – a sense of purpose, a relationship with God, and tacos.

I’m not convinced that we are all born with a specific purpose written somewhere in the codes of our DNA, I’m a self-proclaimed atheist, and I don’t particularly like tacos. That said, I do kinda see a common thread between those three things – yes, even the tacos. Finding a sense of purpose, building/maintaining a relationship (with anyone/thing/idea), and eating the perfect taco all seem to lend themselves towards a sense of fulfillment – psychological, emotional, or physical. I can get behind that idea.

I’m looking to find fulfillment during my lifetime. Peace, happiness, success. Too much to ask, probably, but definitely a worthy goal to strive towards, I suppose.

Question 5: What did you get done?

There’s no time-frame associated with this question, but I’m gonna stick to the past week.

I scheduled my first interview for a nursing position, in the oncology department of a large hospital. I completed all of my NCLEX study guide questions. I went grocery shopping and didn’t forget anything on my list. I made it through my first Renaissance Fair without suffering from an anxiety attack. I created a Pinterest board dedicated to clothes, so that I’ll have something to present to my next Stitch Fix stylist. I interviewed someone for a position in the office and encouraged my manager to hire her. I scheduled an appointment to have my taxes done. I made sure my other/myself ate well.

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All in all, not too shabby.

And, conveniently, he’s now awake.

Time to embark on the rest of the day’s stuff!

 

Exhilaration

A chemical mixture of excitement, fear, and determination that creates – within the individual – a sense of superlative vitality and inexhaustible optimism. Manifestations may include pacing, excessive smiling, chills, and increased productivity. Potential for paradoxical depression or panic once the primary effects wear off.

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I’ve been gaming again, lately, since I’ve had some sense of “free-time” now that I’m out of school. I wrote the above on a scrap of paper up at work. I was trying to quantify what I was feeling and it ended up coming out sounding like something I’d read in the game I played most recent (FF12 Zodiac Age, for those curious). That said, I do like the sound of it and it did reflect what I was feeling, so in that I was successful.

I got my approval from the Florida Board of Nursing to sit for the NCLEX. I’m going to be taking it on February 9th. That means I have just eighteen days to study for it.

That sense of free-time I had . . . it was an illusion, I’ve decided. Now, it really needs to be back to the books in order to make sure I’m ready for this – very expensive – test. Without passing this test, the 18 months and $26,000 I spent on nursing school will be for naught. Everyone around me is confident that I’ll pass this test, but I don’t want to let their confidence be an excuse not to be as prepared as possible for it . . . .

In the vast cyber-halls of the inter-web, there exists many tips and tricks for passing the NCLEX. It’s a thing that almost every nurse practicing in the country has done, after all. There are endless words of wisdom, recommendations, and tactics available. In most large book stores, even, there is a section dedicated to NCLEX study guides, flashcards, and practice tests. I purchased one of the study guides and I am finding it helpful, but I’ve only actually perused about half of it and taken just one of the four practice tests.

Three practice tests left . . . eighteen days to study . . . I’ll take one test every six days?

Of course, that’s not counting doing practice questions. I intend to start doing 50 practice questions a day. Maybe not all in a block, because time is tight for me during the week, but at least in chunks. Several of my classmates were able to test already and at least five I know passed using that sort of a strategy.

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Last time I posted, I included a to-do list. I only checked about half the list off, but I’m going to go ahead and create another list just for today.

  • Tidy up – last night’s dishes, make the bed, wipe down surfaces.
  • Study – create lab value and acronym flashcards.
  • Update planner – use stickers, mark important dates, check things off.
  • Enjoy sister time – have lunch together, game a little, have her quiz me.
  • Other things – submit another hospital application, send a thank-you note, do abs.

Thus far, I already did update my planner. I wrote down my NCLEX date, a couple of concert dates, and I used up some stickers I’d been saving for no real reason.

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It’s still early and I’m a bit sleepy, but I am ambitious. I’ll finish the Monster energy drink I got last night, put on some music (my favorite mix of rock and alternative), and spend the next hour cleaning up before my sister comes over to spend the day with me.

 

Today is not yesterday.

Yesterday was definitely a Monday.

First thing I saw on my FaceBook feed was a cutesy post that read: It’s Monday . . . but it’s okay. I was unconvinced and my day did little to nothing to change that. My boss was running late, it seemed like every customer I spoke to was angry, my times sucked, and I ended up going to bed at eight without doing any of the things on my to-do list.

That said, I got up this morning feeling well-rested. My alarm goes off at 6:00 so that I can do my bathroom routine before my other gets up and does his. I packed his lunch. I even Googled 30-Day Ab Challenges (don’t judge me), picked one out, and did three sets, because one felt like not enough.

(Total count was 45 crunches, 45 hip raises, 15 leg raises, and 30 seconds of planking.)

I did last night’s dishes. I made the bed. Once I finish this post, I’ll take out the trash. Kaye, my co-worker who I carpool with, is also trying to lose weight. Once we get to the office, we’ll do a lap around the block before we go in. Little things, but still things.

I have several pieces of scrap paper, from work, that I’ve been scribbling blog ideas on. None really captured me this morning, so this is just ending up being a rambled little free-write session. I’m hoping that today is a better day than yesterday was. I have the aforementioned to-do list that I feel is looming over me at present. It’s not really terribly long, but the things on it have just been sitting on it for weeks, it seems.

Here it is, since I’m writing.

  • Change the shower curtain liner to one that’s not all grimy.
  • Finish putting away the laundry – because I always procrastinate.
  • Organize my dresser/closet to make room for the scrubs I was gifted this weekend.
  • Make and pack a healthy lunch for today, instead of the collection of snacks I took yesterday – bologna lunchable, three cookies n’ cream snack bites, confetti cake.
  • Create a blog post and put it up (this doesn’t count, because it’s so random).
  • Clean the bathroom – wipe down the counter/sink, get the hair dye off the floor, empty that trash can, and organize the cabinets.
  • Study at least two hours for NCLEX.

My goal is to make a follow-up post tonight to see how many things I’ve been able to check off the list. That said, my ride is due in about an hour and I’m hungry.

Breakfast calls, then . . . the rest.

 

Starting Over, Once Again

I love blank pages.

I love hitting the “new game” button.

I love the pause before the next song starts.

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Except, you know . . . when I don’t.

Mornings when getting out of bed takes an act of congress.

Times when I’m too afraid to begin typing, because I can’t follow my own plot.

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Last year was an uphill climb. I thought that New Year’s Day was the summit. I was wrong. Now, nine days later, I understand that I actually just made it to the mountain.

That said . . . it was still a pretty long year. I did accomplish something major, too – even though I abandoned my new year’s resolutions less than halfway through the year.

I graduated from college with an Associates Degree in Nursing. In – hopefully – just a month or so, I’ll be taking the state board exam (NCLEX) and getting a grown-up job in an actual career field. In six months (or less), I’ll start my bachelor’s program. In a year and a half, I’ll graduate from that and add teaching clinical part-time to my income. By the time I’m thirty (three and a half years), I’ll have my masters and be doing I-don’t-know-what. It all seems so structured and so easy.

But, right now, I’m still wearing my pajamas. I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee. I haven’t washed my breakfast dishes. I’m watching Buzz Feed videos on YouTube in a never-ending loop of 30-day workout challenges, decorating hacks, and food porn.

I have to leave for work in about fifteen minutes. In a couple of months, I’ll be a Registered Nurse. Right now, I’m still working in a call center and asking people to please rate their experience on a scale of 1-10. I’m keeping my typing speed up and skills up, not by writing research papers or a best-selling novel, but by typing out customer complaints and proof-reading my newest co-worker’s interviews.

Lah-dee-freakin’-dah!

 

16/52 – Adversity&Determination

If the road is easy, chances are you’re going to wrong way. – Terry Goodkind

The road I’m currently on certainly isn’t an easy one. I feel like I keep stumbling over my own feet and walking right into spider webs. And I forgot to bring snacks!

Last Friday morning, I signed into my health insurance portal with the intent of making a payment to bring my account up to speed,  because I’d fallen a month behind. Once I signed in; however, I was greeted with a little message stating that I could not make an online payment due to a change in my account status. Well, that was unexpected. I did some snooping around in my account and discovered that my coverage was canceled as of March 31st of this year. Erm . . . what?

Immediately, I checked my bank history and saw the payments I’d been making.

Dismayed, I called the customer service number only to be told that the office wasn’t open until nine. Okay, that’s the same time I start work, but I’ll just take a long lunch and get this issue sorted out and my health insurance reinstated, because I can prove I’ve been making the payments, despite being a month behind. There’s such a thing as grace.

Lunch time, call in, speak to a very nice young man who places me on a brief hold and returns sounding genuinely sorry for me. “I’m sorry, ma’am. The cancellation wasn’t in error. You haven’t made the minimum required monthly payments at all this year.” He explained that I’d been paying roughly $90 a month, which was my bill amount last year, but my minimum payment had increased to roughly $91 at the start of the year.

I have no idea how I didn’t know that. I explained to him that I never received notice of paying the wrong amount and always just got emailed receipts that thanked me for paying. He couldn’t do anything else, though, except let me know that my $90 from April and May would be sent back to me via check within the next ten business days. He also transferred me to a not-so-nice woman who put in a ticket for a special enrollment period for me in an attempt to get it reinstated on the basis of my confusion over the total due. It will be thirty days before I know the outcome of that.

My first instinct was just to call it quits and curl into a little ball of self pity.

But I took a deep breath and took a step back and asked myself . . . what can I do?

Not in a sarcastic way, not in a self-defeating way, not as a throwaway, but really.

And I came up with a few options. All of which were better than nothing. I actually made a plan of action. Determined how I was going to handle this situation now that I was in it, instead of spending time dwelling on the problem itself. I looked for the solution.

First, I’m going to deposit the refunded money into my savings account. I’m going to add to that the amount that I’d planned to pay when I originally signed in. In thirty days, if my health insurance does not get reinstated, I will continue to deposit the $90 dollars I would have put towards it into my savings account, instead. I will not let it turn into Starbucks coffees or Redbox movie rentals or day trips to Daytona. I’ll have about $810 in savings at the end of the year, from putting my “health insurance” bill into it.

If my hasty research into the matter is correct, then that will be more than I need to cover the tax penalty I would be charged for not having insurance for nine months. If, that is, I actually get charged the tax penalty, which I may not. My income has dropped drastically, since I started school. I may qualify for hardship status. In either case – fine or no fine – I am prepared for the situation. If I don’t get fined, then I’ll be starting the new year with more in savings than I’ve ever had.

  • I won’t continue to pay my health insurance bill into my saving account after December, even though taxes are filed later than that, because I’ll get insurance again during open enrollment at the end of the year.

The true downside, of course, is that I won’t have health insurance during the next six months, if it doesn’t get reinstated. That sucks, for a couple of reasons. I have asthma and keep an emergency inhaler on hand for . . . well . . . emergencies. I have about a third of my current one left, which will last me – maybe – the next three months or so. I also; however, have two daily use inhalers saved from when I went to the doctor and he prescribed them. I don’t like taking them, which I know isn’t good, but if I do start taking them as I’m supposed to, they should be enough to keep my lungs and bronchi in good shape for the next three months, which saves my emergency inhaler for the last three months. I also have access to a nebulizer and albuterol, if needed.

I won’t die, essentially, from not having health insurance. Indeed, from the age of eighteen to twenty-four I did not have health insurance. I managed. Not always comfortably, but always adequately.

The other downside, the one I’m really upset about, is that if the insurance isn’t reinstated at the end of thirty days, I will have to confess to Him that I messed up and lost it. He isn’t going to be happy, because he will be concerned for my health. I will, at least, have a plan to present to him. I think he will appreciate that and the fact that I was able to think things through and not just freak out.

A few months ago, this situation would have derailed me for weeks. There would have been tears and panic and eventually acceptance, but no real solution formed. Now, I can deal with this bear in the middle of the road without losing my head. I’ll skirt around it and be more vigilant in the future. I won’t get eaten by it.

Adversity is defined as difficulties or misfortune. Determine is a firmness of purpose, or resolve. I may face other adversity during the next six months as I continue along my Road to Elsewhere, but I am determined that I will make it to the end of the road.

At which time, I’m sure there will be other roads to explore.

10/52 – Aspirations & Fears

Aspiration: A hope or ambition of achieving something.

Fear: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that something is likely a threat.

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The other day one of my classmates, Twinlee, said, “Oh my god. You should just type mine up, too. You’ve got the words!” This was in reference to a small group project we were working on making a PowerPoint for during some down time in lab.

I was startled into admitting something that hasn’t come up yet. “I like to write.”

That’s something of an understatement. I’ve been writing short stories since the first grade. Have, actually, written three novels of more than 150 pages – two of which were part of a truly awful series that I did when I was about fourteen. The third was, I think, pretty okay. It was my NaNoWriMo novel four years ago. At present, I have two novel ideas that are tumbling around in the back of my mind.

I’ve always thought of it as both a good and a bad thing that I don’t ever have to search for an idea. Truth be told, sitting here, I’ve actually got closer to a dozen potential story/novel ideas, but only two are developed enough to be considered, practically speaking.

At Twinlee’s probing, I admitted as much as the above, and confessed something else. “Part of the reason I decided to go into nursing,” I let her know, “is due to the fact that I could work three twelve hour shifts, and then go home and write for four solid days, if I want.” She was, I think, both impressed and bemused.

It’s true though. When I was a kid, I expected to grow up to be a photo journalist, because I like to write, take pictures, and travel. As I got older, that somehow turned into something that I felt was impractical. It’s not that anyone ever told me, “You can’t do that.” It just . . . became a non-option, along the way.

My aspiration, I suppose you could say, is still to become a novelist. I don’t even let myself dream of real success, most of the time, but it’s fun to imagine seeing one of my novels on a bookshelf. Maybe even to daydream about seeing someone wander over to it and pick up while I stand there, pretending not to notice.

Of course, I don’t really think a person can have an aspiration without experiencing some parallel fear. Not only of failure, necessarily, but of the sheer possibility of success.

People fail all the time. It’s not unexpected. There are protocols, procedures, and policies in place to help people deal with failing. We have so many expressions and saying relating to failure that it’s not really something scary, in and of itself, at least not at a core level, for me.

“Why do we fall? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.”

The prospect of accomplishing something successfully is, realistically, more scary to me than failing is, because I’m not sure what would come next. Fear of the unknown is the biggest fear I have, and failing isn’t something that’s unknown . . . success is.

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I haven’t written much since starting school, aside from homework and this blog, because I’ve been trying to narrow my focus to becoming a nurse . . . which is, honestly, an aspiration in itself. I’ll have two weeks off though, starting on the sixteenth and I keep thinking about trying to pound out a rough draft, at least, in that time.

A rough draft in two weeks would seem like a tall order, except the one I mean to write is one that I’ve had in my mind for years and it’s so ready to be written that it’ll feel just like typing out the outline of a movie I’ve watched a million and one times.

Of course, I don’t really know what I’d do with the draft once I finished it. I’ve never actually gone through the process of revising one. Now that I’m thinking about it, working to revise the school assignments I’ve done isn’t that dissimilar. Well, aside from the fact that the school assignments aren’t more than ten pages long . . .

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Also, as an end to this post, which was sort of off on a tangent, and as a follow-up to the post earlier today, I didn’t end up getting naked. He came home from work early, we had lunch . . . and then there was sex, but I got to keep most of my clothes on. Compromise exists, even in dynamics with heavy M/s connotations.