At the beginning of my youngest son’s junior year in high school, he said to me, “Mom, I hate school. I want to quit.”
I’m not sure how, but I fought back the urge to scream, “What are you thinking? No way your Dad and I are going to let that happen!”
Once my panic subsided, I was able to talk with my son. What I said to him that day has come back to me many times when I was ready to quit nursing. The conversation went something like this.
“Tell me more,” I encouraged him, “Why do you want to quit?”
“I hate my classmates. I don’t like my teachers. I am tired of school and don’t want to go anymore.” was his reply.
“So what will you do?” I asked him.
“Anyplace I can get a job.”
“OK, so let me ask you this, where do you see yourself in a year? In two? In 5?”
There was a long pause. “Maybe I better finish high school.” My son said but didn’t sound very happy about it.
“I want to tell you a secret. I don’t always want to go to work. I don’t always love my job. There are days I am tired of the patients, the other nurses, my bosses, the doctors. Sometimes I want to quit.”
“Why don’t you? My son asked surprised that I could understand what he was feeling so well.
“Because I don’t expect my life to be perfect. I made a choice to be a nurse. I know I love it. I also know there will be times I am tired of the same problems or people or routine. I can’t change jobs every month or two when I am bored or tired of what is happening. I have to find ways to make the best of my situation.”
“So what do you do?” My son asked.
“I accept that my feelings are temporary. I find something at work to get excited about. I get involved in a new project. I volunteer for a committee. I ask someone I don’t know very well to lunch. Or I find something outside of work to get excited about. I start a new hobby, tackle a project at home or plan an outing or trip. So what can you do to keep you excited about going to school?”
I’m happy to say my son heeded my advice. He landed a leading part in the school musical. At the end of the year he won a theater award for his performance. He finished his senior year in high school. Four years later he graduated from college. How different his life would have been if he had quit high school in his junior year. How different my life would have been if I quit the nursing profession every time I was tired.