Quality of Life

I’ve never been able to stay on board with society’s dictate to get an education in whatever earns the most money and highest respect. The focus is to become a professional and then race as fast as you can to get that money and acquire all the stuff, then hurry up and reach all the expected milestones, like a house, marriage, family, etc.

If you said you wanted to be an artist, writer or musician people always said, “There’s no money in that, what do you really want to do?” No one ever promoted the idea that you could do what your heart called you to. They always wanted to know, “How are you gonna make a living doing that?”

The number one motivating factor in most people’s minds was always money and next was prestige. What will other people think of you? Where will you fit into the hierarchy? How will you be of most service to make us look better because of our association with you? How can you be of most benefit to us and serve what we think is best?

There was no concern with what a person truly wanted, what was meaningful, purposeful, healthy, and joyful for the person. Most families think they know what’s best for each other and try to pressure, influence, and control their offspring. There’s no room for deviation, exploration, and individuality. Oh, sometimes there are false reassurances where you may be encouraged with words to do whatever makes you happy. Yet when you attempt to do just that, other’s actions contradict what they said. You are met with judgment, condemnation, criticism, and may even be ostracized.

When I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, I took a long time to decide. I took classes on many different subjects and eventually I got tired of being a starving student. I got practical and became a nurse. I did care about people and loved that aspect of nursing, the human connection, and compassion. Nursing was a way to do something purposeful and meaningful while also having financial stability. There’s always a demand for nurses. I figured I could always do the more creative things I was interested in later and would have nursing to fall back on.

Well, it’s now 28 years later and I am embracing my chance to get creative. I’m also doing what’s best for my mental and physical health which means no more nursing. I know some people wonder why I’d quit a well paid, respectable career that I worked so hard for and invested half of my life doing?

I value my quality of life above everything else at this point. Why spend time doing what is harmful to you when you don’t truly have to? When I had a family to take care of, that was different. I couldn’t just jump ship and take them down with me. I was stuck for a bit because I wanted to provide the best environments for them and that required more money. So I stayed in nursing until they were on their own and doing well.

And I kept trying to stay in nursing because it did make more money and it is a worthy vocation. I did truly help some people. But it was killing me to keep doing it. It is not an easy job, in my estimation, it’s gotta be one of the most stressful professions, especially if you’re working in mental health.

I made difficult decisions, like declaring bankruptcy, then dropping down to PRN hours, then getting out of behavioral health, and trying long term care. I worked only night shifts because they were less stressful, (but the tradeoff was the disruption in my circadian rhythm with perpetual sleep deprivation). Then gradually tapering back my hours. Then moving to a cheaper apartment while trying multiple other non-nursing jobs to make ends meet. Finally, in December 2019 I worked my last nursing shift, only I didn’t know it then. I was just hoping I wouldn’t have to work as a nurse anymore.

Well now I’ve achieved that hope.

It had gotten so depressing for me that on the days I had to work I felt clinically depressed, tearful and suicidal. Yep, suicidal. Totally burned out, that was me.

On the days I didn’t have to work as a nurse I felt free and happy to be alive. As the days got closer to my next nursing shift I grew incrementally sadder each day. Once I got through the doors at work I was okay and got through the shift okay too. I’d be so relieved driving home after and walking from the car to our apartment in the fresh air with birdsong as the sun was rising. I made it through another shift unscathed. No one had to be shipped out to the ER and no one died.

Now it’s time for me to discover what my heart really wants. I still want to serve and help people, to do my part in making the world a better, brighter more loving place. It just won’t be in nursing that’s all. I’m allowed to do what’s right for me. In fact, I better do what’s right for me, because who else but I can accomplish that? I get to choose and it’s always been my choice.

I’m so thankful I finally reached this place of freedom. I am determined to move forward with no turning back. So be it, so it is 🙂

I know it can be hard to deviate from expectations, but do what makes your heart sing, that always works out best.

Love and hugs! 💜

Michelle Miyagi
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