“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.” Unknown
One week off from school. Already, the nagging little worry appears in the back of my head. Two classes in eight weeks just sounds like a daunting task and for most people it brings about some live of concern. This worry can easily become more concerned when one realizes that there will be a test every week and that for six of those eight weeks there are ten hour clinical days once a week and the paperwork that goes with the clinicals. It quickly becomes an overwhelming thought. That’s when I try to recall the quote above.
No matter what, I know that I will do the very best that I can do. That mantra is one I picked up after the very first (and only) time I failed a class (Physical Chemistry 1, if you’re interested in what I failed). After working my butt off for sixteen weeks, spending hours upon hours working proofs and going over formulas, and even more time spent sobbing and stressing, I came to realize that even though I failed, the world did not end. And my advisor asked me a very important question when I sat in his office in tears after learning my final exam grade was a 66 – “Did you learn anything?” At first I was confused but he clarified for me fairly quickly. Did I learn anything in the class, is what he was asking me. I paused for a moment before nodding. Of course I learned things. I had passed the lab portion of the course with a B, so I could do the work. I passed the course the next semester and moved on with a new understanding of the material and a joy at the thought that I never had to take that class again.
In retrospect, I spent a lot of time worrying about something and did myself a huge disservice. All my worrying did nothing to change the outcome nor did the tears. I also learned that I am a resilient person. Failing the class did not mean the end of the world and it also didn’t mean that I was horrible at chemistry. It was one small part of a larger journey, where I stumbled but eventually succeeded. The most important thing that I learned was that if you do the very best you can you 1) will learn things and 2) can walk with your head held high.
And when I talk about learning things, I don’t just mean course material. Obviously, that’s part of it. I learned things that I carried with me into the repeat of the course that helped me pass the second time. But I also learned how to study more effectively. I learned how to manage my time better. I learned that sometimes a good cry is helpful and other times it’s detrimental. And I learned that perseverance is more important than success sometimes.
So how does this apply to the daunting upcoming semester? Well, that’s easy. I don’t stress as much. Some stress is good. It helps you focus. It makes you slightly more alert. But when that stress becomes overwhelming, it becomes detrimental. You start to overthink every little detail. You start to focus on the little details instead of the big ideas. You lose perspective and the world starts to look as though it’s going to end if you should not have immediate success. That’s a hard lesson to learn when you are a chromic overachiever. I think nursing school is filled with a lot of people who have a type A personality and they have always been overachievers. The stress that you can place on yourself can make you go crazy.
That’s why the quote is so important. Worry will never make tomorrow better. It simply makes you crazy in the here and now. When you spend all your time worrying about what’s next, you forget to look at the joy that today holds.
For those of you in that situation, try and remember that. Plan, organize, prepare. There’s nothing wrong with those things. But it is crucial that you find some way to create peace and let go of some of the worry that inevitably starts to creep in. Worrying about a problem has never yet solved one. Until next time, lovely people, be more at peace with the world.