It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, particularly about my career choice as a nursing assistant.
I’ve always believed that I belonged in a helping career. Years ago, in high school, becoming a social worker was my chosen path but then life took me down another path – a couple of them actually. With no degree in journalism, I was able to write
professionally, serving as staff writer for a couple of newspapers. Then I decided that getting into the health field would be a more stable choice, so I chose to get certified as a nursing assistant (CNA) with no ambitions to advance my training and become an LPN or RN. I still don’t regret either of those decisions. I’ve always been happy giving personal care to patients, without being inundated with all the extra clerical work heaped upon the nurses of today. As a nursing assistant, I know that I can always work – in private duty as I’m doing now, in a hospital setting, or as a travelling CNA. But there’s a personality component, an expectation of subservience both from the nurses in the hospital and from the family in private duty settings that I find I can only navigate successfully for a very short period of time before I begin to wonder.
I’m at that point now.
Am I really living my best life? Am I playing it safe instead of pushing harder to find success in the creative areas of my life that I merely squeeze into my 60.5 hour private duty work week? I’m not a person who believes that age is a showstopper, so the concept of reinventing myself at 56 years of age hasn’t bothered me. Or does it? I guess if I’m really being honest with myself, I’d have to admit just a wee bit of personal insecurity that most people my age are likely thinking of retiring, settling their lives, travelling, working only part-time if they want to. And of course there’s the financial insecurity that always comes with pursuing your own passions whether it be full or part-time. But regardless of what the norm is for a 50-plus year old, I realize that it’s time for me to make a change, and it’s not just about making money.
I miss giving back by volunteering. Some of my proudest moments include the times I gave of myself to be a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), a hotline counselor for the House of Ruth, and a suicide hotline counselor at For All Seasons. I felt like I helped people by giving them what they needed. I felt the same sense of self-satisfaction that I feel now taking care of a patient, as well as a sense of appreciation that went beyond thank-you’s or financial bonuses.
I suppose this post has answered my questions. In the world of me, of what I consider living, of what areas of life give me peace, I’m not living my best life. I’m squeezing in the parts of my life that I feel I can’t make a living at instead of working harder to see if I can. Without realizing it, I have been playing it safe because for me nursing assistant work comes easy. It suits my personality so I can care for a patient very well, give them all of my attention, and go above and beyond the call of duty to give them what they need without feeling like they’re a burden.
But it’s time to step out of that safety zone and elevate the other areas of my life.
Are you living your best life?