The next step

Ten days.

That's it. Just ten. In ten days, I'll load my computer and charger up into my giant Timbuk2 bag, slip my syllabus into a new three-ring notebook full of lined paper, and stuff pens, hilighters, pencils, and a small recorder into my new pencil bag. And I'll head off for my first day of nursing school.

It's wild to think that it's finally here. This culmination of two years of pre-reqs, applications, anticipation, acceptance, titer levels, bloodwork, physicals and orientation is effectively over, and the real stuff begins. It seems like I've been waiting for this my entire life, and really, I have.

I've got two brand spankin' new pairs of navy scrubs embroidered with my school's emblem. I've got a white nurse's jacket. White Dansko clogs that are sure to be scuffed up in no time. A stethoscope, pen lights, a name tag, nursing textbooks…check, check, check, check. All mine.

But, as the nursing program coordinator repeated three times over the course of our three-day orientation the other week, "We can teach anyone how to do nursing procedures. But what we can't teach you is how to be a great nurse. That's something you have to dig inside of yourself and become."

That's where I pause. Doubt myself. Can I? Can I remember it all, do it all, be it all? I sometimes become so consumed with what has to be done in work and life that I tuck my chin under and just do. My challenge, I know, will be to lift my chin back up and really see the people around me. The ones for whom I'll have the honor of caring, for however little or however long. While my ultimate goal isn't nursing but midwifery, I know that the skills I learn over the next two years — both physical and emotional — are the crux of what will become my life's work. And so I repeat to myself, even now, ten days before school even starts, "Open your eyes. Smile, reach out, touch. Send them love."

It's a new adventure. A new door, a new education, an entirely different learning experience. My strongest hope is that I can be a competent, careful, nurturing presence in the lives of anyone I come into contact with.

Ten days.