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I Think I Like This Little Life

Adulting is hard. In fact, I don't remember ever signing up for most of the crap I've seen and been through. When I was young I dreamed of being a grown up. Living by own rules- no bedtime, no vegetables and no pressure to clean up my messy room. I thought that life couldn't get any harder than writing essays, passing tests and navigating the gruelling social hierarchy of school.

Ignorance truly is bliss. Because then I did grow up, which seemed to happen way too fast, and this overwhelming pressure to make the right decisions weighted down the freedom I had been desperately waiting for my entire childhood. Every choice I needed to make seemed to have implications far beyond the here and now. It was about my future. It was about my ability to help those around me. It was about choosing what type of human I was going to be. Would I be productive and valuable? Or would I be lazy and a drain?

And let's not forget the need to be prepared for every possible outcome, in order to protect the life I was building. My brain swam in what ifs as I fell asleep at night. If I could fall asleep at all.

But I'm here to tell you something, because I am fairly certain I am not alone in these trenches. Even if you make all the right decisions, even if you learn to manage the anxiety and depression, the exhaustion and crippling self doubt that goes along with carrying the weight of adulting on your shoulders- the bad thing, the thing you have been terrified of, can still happen. You can fail and fall apart regardless of all that thankless work and sleepless nights.

Scary right? Now, hold on. Stop. Take a breath. Let me explain.

I was lucky enough to start dating the love of my life when I was 17 years old, and Scott and I have been together ever since. We have been best friends and partners ever since. We make decisions together. We succeed together, we fail together and we pick ourselves up together.

We have made the 'right' decisions since we graduated high school. Scott went to work the very next day and worked hard to complete his apprenticeship. I went to nursing school, and graduated with honours. I then immediately went back to school to get my perinatal certificate, critical care certificate and perianesthesia certificate. So I'd feel prepared to take on the responsibility of holding someone's life in my hands everyday I went to work. Scott and I didn't party, we lived at home and we saved money. Which enabled us to buy a small starter house at 22 years old. The market was already starting to get crazy and it would be best for our future if we got in as soon as possible. After a few years we started thinking further into the future. Where do we want to raise kids? How stable and predictable are our jobs?

So we decided to move. A big move, two hours away from our families. But it gave us the opportunity to buy a large house to fill with kids. Scott got a stable and reliable utility job, I worked to find my place and a foothold in rural healthcare. We started trying for kids.

Now, did I mention before that adulting sucks? They hammer into you the importance of not getting pregnant when you're a teenager. You wouldn't want to 'ruin your life' (eye roll). But they never teach you what to do when you're in your late twenties and can't get pregnant. Even after four years of trying, seeing a fertility clinic and getting six rounds of unsuccessful treatment.

But we kept going- because that is the right thing to do. Keep moving forward and keep being productive. Keep making gains. Right?

So that is what I did. I threw myself into work. But in a post COVID world, healthcare isn't what it used to be. Government sanctioned patient abuse, caregiver burnout and entitlement are running rampant. And there is only so long you can last putting your all into helping someone, only to see five others suffer because you can't be six places at once. To see like minded people slowly bend who they are, and their moral compasses, just to survive their 9-5 job.

And that's when it happened. The big scary thing that had been lurking in the shadows, taunting me, finally reared it's ugly head. I broke. I failed. I put everything I had worked my entire ADULTING life for in jeopardy.

The details aren't all that important, but sitting at my desk eight months ago I felt a tear roll down my cheek. And another, and another and another. Until I was sobbing. I couldn't stop, and didn't stop, for three days. I was put on a leave. And when the fog cleared I was left with a choice- find a way to go back to what I was doing before (which the thought of rendered me almost catatonic) or figure out where the hell to go from here and never look back.

I chose the latter. And not because I had some miraculous come to Jesus moment with myself and realized my self worth. This isn't a bloody hallmark movie. Adulting is never that simple. I was forced to move forward because the panic wouldn't let me go back to how things were. And it is the best thing that ever happened to me.

That's right. You heard me. Falling apart, letting 'everyone down' and finally breaking under the weight of adulting was the best damn thing that has ever happened to me.

It didn't happen overnight, far from it. But after about three weeks of biting my nails and wandering around my house aimlessly in my pajamas with a broom or mop (still trying desperately to be productive), I started therapy. I had heard about BetterHelp on a podcast, and considering how utterly exhausting doing anything was at that point, being able to access a personalized therapist off my phone seemed like the best way to follow through for me. I met my therapist Juanita and my journey of figuring out who I am, instead of who I should be, started.

I had been trained to compartmentalize in both my professional and personal life. After witnessing trauma, the little man in my head would pack all the memories and emotions up into boxes and stack them neatly in the back closet. Problem was, that as the traumas started to add up, the closet got full, then the corners of the room- and on and on and on until there were fucking boxes everywhere and you couldn't do anything without tripping over them!

I realized I was caught in the current of adulting and societal standards. So caught up in the need to be valued by others that I didn't realize I wasn't valuing myself. That pieces of me, pieces that made me who I was, were slowly being chipped away so I could be what I thought everyone needed me to be.

Did you know that you are worthy of contentment and happiness for just being you? Not because of anything you do, not because of how much money you make, not because of what you do for others. Just for simply existing. Yes. I'm telling you it's true. I thought it was a load of crap. But one day, it just clicked. Productivity does not equal value.

And when it clicked I realized that I couldn't go back to being a nurse. Not right now. Right now I owe it to myself to explore other things and to give myself a chance to try something different.

And it clicked that Scott was serious when he said he'd live in a one room apartment with me, if it meant I was happy and healthy. He wasn't lying or trying to make me feel better. He meant that I was enough. Just me with none of the extra frills.

It clicked that this creative part of me I had shut down in order to be a great nurse (my identity), was actually a huge part of my happiness. That I need to nurture it.

It clicked that when I am content and happy I don't need a lot of the things I thought I did. What I was looking for was the dopamine hit from hitting 'buy now' on amazon and receiving a big ole' box of goodies in the mail.

I realized that I didn't need people to like me. That my family and friends, that very small group of wonderful people who have stuck with me over the last eight months, love me for who I am. Not for what I am worth to them. And I realized how important being there for them is as well.

And you know what else I have learned? The world has not ended. The walls have not fallen down around me. In fact, I have never felt stronger and more capable than I have in the last two weeks since resigning my position. And that was only made possible by 'failing' and falling apart.

So if you are struggling with adulting, if you feel like you are failing at life- just remember you are not alone. And it's probably not as bad as it seems. There are always options. There are always choices. Ask for help. You're worth it :)




I should probably put a disclaimer to take all this with a grain of salt and that it is coming from a woman who burned an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies last night. Like a whole batch. And not a little burnt. We had to set up fans to clear the smoke. Scott said something about "blah blah why didn't you set a timer blah blah". I couldn't really hear him over the smoke alarm.

תגובה אחת

Nicole Dukelaw
Nicole Dukelaw
10 באפר׳

So eloquently written as usual <3. I'm glad you're happy in whatever you are doing, you're worth every ounce of that!!

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