By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
If you asked me where I have gotten stuck, I will tell you many, many times. That’s the interesting thing about living your Best Life and getting out of your comfort zone, you will find yourself hitting plateaus, feeling overwhelmed, losing your mojo or motivation…all signs that you are stuck! Let me take you back, way back, to a pivotal time I was stuck…a time I didn’t even realize I was stuck.
When I was in kindergarten and was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up”, I said I was going to be a doctor. This came out of absolutely nowhere other than the fact I really liked my doctor, his white coat, and his stethoscope. (These are really awesome bases for your life’s work…lol.) The interesting thing is that this really got ingrained into my brain…it became my automatic answer for many years and actually became a part of the future identity I had created for myself.
Fast forward to college, I was on the pre-medicine track with a major in microbiology and immunology. I was working as the tutoring program coordinator for the undergraduate physiology course. The professor of the course had become a friend and valued mentor to me. An important side note is that he taught physiology to undergraduates as well as the medical school.
During the time I was working with him, several major medical events happened in my family in a few short months. These events gave me close, first hand experience with different roles of the medical profession. After these life-changing events happened, I started having this nagging feeling that I wasn’t on the right path…that, perhaps, this dream of becoming a doctor wasn’t exactly the path to the greatest fulfillment. But, I kept pushing that away…I was caught in this dilemma of it not feeling right but afraid I would disappoint everyone. I mean…I had been saying forever that I was going to be a doctor!
Over the semester, this came out in conversation with my professor mentor. I will forever be grateful for what he said to me. He asked permission to weigh in on my internal struggle. He started by joking about how being a doctor isn’t as grand as I was making it out to be…they are just people. He said he had no doubt I could and would be a great doctor if I wanted to be one. Then, and here’s the clincher that gave me the jolt I needed to snap me out of the stuckness, he said I was destined to do great things. He said not to chase after a title and look for something that would give me purpose and fulfillment…that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought about what I decided to do with my life. The only person who gets to weigh in on this and whose opinion matters is my own. He also reminded me that pre-medicine was an intention and I could pick any major I wanted; therefore, I should pick something I would enjoy doing if I changed my mind about medical school. Finally, above all, I should trust my instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.
I still vividly remember the freedom those words gave me! It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Guess what? Although medical microbiology and immunology was super fascinating and fun (remember, I’m a weird science person), I could not see myself working in a lab studying bacteria and viruses the rest of my life. Instead, I applied to nursing school and finished my pre-medicine requirements to keep my options open. It was in nursing school that I realized the philosophy of nursing was what fit me best. That, DreamChasers, is how I accidentally became a nurse!
Know what else? No one that I loved and truly loved me batted an eye when I decided not to become a doctor. Well, except one of my grandpas…lol…but, he just always wanted a doctor in the family.
Why do I bring this blast from the past up? Have I been stuck since then? Yes, many times, in many ways. I bring this up because this lesson served me each time I found myself stuck in my career, feeling unfulfilled, antsy, ready for something else, feeling that tug. Instead of keeping in the comfort zone, I had learned to listen to that feeling, get curious, and explore. Some decisions, like going back to graduate school, were pretty easy while others, like deciding the traditional nurse practitioner role was not my true purpose, were much scarier. Each time, though, I recognized I was stuck by the unsettled feeling, followed my instincts to be curious, and remembered I am the only opinion that matters about what I do with this one, beautiful life.
Spoiler alert, DreamChaser. You will find yourself getting stuck on your Best Life journey. Instead of resisting, welcome the stuckness! Getting stuck is often a clue you are onto something great or, perhaps, need to reset the sails for a different course. Take a deep breath and get curious, dive into the real reason behind the stuckness. And, when you feel the pull towards a certain path or answer, trust yourself enough to follow. You've got this!
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.