My back is aching, my eyes are growing heavy, and my mind is jaded by the long day. I can only focus on the dawdling minute hand, awaiting its arrival at 7:12 – the earliest acceptable moment to sign out of the unit and take the sweet elevator ride down to the main floor of St. Mary’s. I cannot wait to reach the parking garage; only two short miles separate me from my bed. Well, two short miles and one speedy shower. If there is one thing that working in a hospital will teach you, it is how to become a germaphobe.
But none of this is true. Well, my back aches, my eyes are heavy and my mind is jaded by the day, but I have not been putting my registered nurse license to good use. I have been sitting on the couch.
I have always been a planner. If you had asked me where I saw myself in 10 years, I always knew the answer. I was going to work at St. John’s while earning a Masters degree in Public Health Nursing with a Nursing Education Certificate from the University of Michigan or Wayne State. I was going to work for the health department and then make my way into teaching nursing at Oakland University. I would buy a cute little house in downtown Romeo and life would be perfect. This had always been the plan, but plans change.
One year ago, I was visiting my fiancé stationed in Ramstein, Germany. Until this point I was fully committed to beginning our marriage apart so that I could gain nursing experience before following him wherever the military may take us – this way my perfect plan would not be terribly disrupted. Little did I know, this was not going to happen. I thought it would be a great idea to visit my fiancé for my final spring break, which also happened to be during the time he had to find a rental so that he could move out of the dorms.
I went house hunting with him and fell in love. We had found the perfect place. Two bedrooms, an updated kitchen, “wood” floors and ceilings, small front yard and large fenced-in back yard. Not to mention the vast number of public trails through woodland and farmland surrounding the house which would be perfect for hiking and running. I could already see us living there; the two of us, a dog, and maybe even a baby one day. I could not fathom the idea of waiting a year or two to begin our life together.
So I did it.
I graduated from college, studied my booty off for the NCLEX to become a registered nurse, got married and moved to Germany by September! I knew I would have to find a way to keep up with my nursing skills over the next three years, so I applied to become a volunteer American Red Cross (ARC) nurse and applied for the school nurse positions for the Department of Defense Education Activity.
Well, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day have all passed and I am still waiting on becoming an ARC nurse. Not to mention the job market is seriously depressing here. Because I do not know any German, I can only apply to nursing jobs on base. “Once you’re in, you’re in!” (the system, that is) they say, however it seems practically impossible to get “in.
Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely proud of my husband and I do not think that knowing it would be this difficult to find a job related to my field would have changed my mind about moving here with him. As a proud military spouse, I go where he goes. And as 1950s housewife as it may seem, my true dream job is to simply be a wife and mother; it does not disappoint me too terribly much knowing that I have basically washed most of my career opportunities down the drain by now. Anyone that has any experience with the military, though, knows that there is a lot of waiting involved, and I am just so bored of waiting!
I have found that I have developed a serious screen addiction. It has been a long time coming. Through college I was able to take 16+ credits a semester, work 24 hours a week, be an active member in my sorority, go to the gym at least 4 days a week, and crank out an obscene number of hours binge watching Netflix. I knew I should not watch as much television as I had been doing, but what’s the problem? I had a 3.8 GPA and was completing the Honors Program – it’s not like my schoolwork was suffering.
Unfortunately during this time I also forgot how to have hobbies. I had not read a book for fun since junior year of high school. I used to love quilting but even if I could make the time for it, I did not have the spare cash to pay for material or a sewing machine. I did not even draw or paint anymore – something I had a passion for since I was a child. When I moved to Germany I did not have any hobbies to do every day. To pass the time, I watched practically everything on Netflix, spent countless hours surfing the web, and played Sim City Build-It on my iPad like it was my job now.
And then it happened.
It was not until January when peers of mine who would be graduating nursing school this upcoming May, a whole year after I graduated, started posting on Facebook that they had accepted their full-time post-graduate positions. I believe I was sitting on the couch watching Family Guy. This was a new low for me. I understand that a lot of time has passed, but I did not realize how much time had passed. A new class is entering the workforce and what have I been doing? Watching Game of Thrones and packing on the pounds while eating cheese balls all holiday season? I feel like I have not accomplished much of anything since graduating and that pains me. I will start volunteer nursing at the military hospital very soon, but I still do not know if “soon” means two weeks from now or two months. I need to become more productive while I wait. I am sickened by the hours I have spent staring at a screen pointlessly. At least if I was watching documentaries or TED talks I could have been learning something, but I wasn’t. I was watching Disney Channel’s Jessie and The CW’s Jane the Virgin.
So this is my pledge. I am dedicating Project Julianna to becoming the best me I can possibly be. I will be more productive and I will try new things. I will try new hobbies and I will learn how to be less reliant on technology to pass my time. Each week I will try something new (or maybe even a few things) and post about what I have done.
This is for all women who feel like they are in a rut. Who feel like they have spent so much time making sure that their husbands and children are happy, they forgot how to be happy themselves. This is so we can be proud of not only our families, but of ourselves again.