This topic is a doozy. When I began my program, the dean told us: “It is time to let go of those causing you emotional stress and turmoil in your life. You won’t make it through this program without love and support. And those who make it through with you, will be in your life forever!” This was frightening to hear. We knew nursing school would be hard, but after everything we don’t want to end up alone! So how is it possible to keep this perfect balance of being selfish for yourself during school yet maintaining healthy relationships outside of the program?
FAMILY & FRIENDS
I am very close with my family. I speak with my mother everyday and my siblings and grandparents at least once a week. This didn’t change during nursing school, however, the time of the calls and length of conversations changed. I would call my family when I had the chance, which was rare at times. I would call my family while walking to class or while in the break room. For my family, short and sweet conversations were better than nothing. This being said, make it count. Don’t center the conversation around yourself…which believe me, your family will try and do. Be forward with your family and let them know that nursing school isn’t forever, but for right now you are doing your best to keep in touch. If your family is anything like mine, they will understand and support you. Don’t forget you can always send text messages like “thinking of you and love you.” These go a long way if a phone conversation isn’t an option.
Friends can be hard to juggle with school. I have a handful of extremely close friends outside of nursing school. If we are apart for years and are finally reunited, it feels as though no time has passed. I devoted my school breaks to seeing these friends as much as I could. They know me well and know that school-mode means I’m out of commission. Whilst in school-mode, my nursing school friends are everything and more. They are the only ones who understand what goes on within the program. They understand the level of fatigue, stress, and fear of failure. Nothing can compare to this bond and I would not have made it through school without my nursing school friends. My advice is to not isolate yourself. Make friends and help others within your program. I guarantee you there will be numerous times when you’re the one who needs help.
My boyfriend, Ian, and I have been together six years now. We are stronger than ever
and we owe this all to nursing school. With each new nursing semester came new relationship hurdles. These hurdles were not fun but I am so glad we went through them. We most often expect and need the most from those closest to us, and for me this was Ian.
Ian and I faced our largest issues when our communication stopped. We inadvertently expected things from each other without communicating these expectations. This forced an enormous wedge between us that continued to get worse over time. I expected him to help me study, I expected him to feed me after a long shift, and I expected him to know what I wanted or needed without me saying anything. I know…I know, this sounds absurd! But in the moment, these un-communicated expectations were so important to me. So we were left with two choices: figure out a way to work through it or go our separate ways (exactly what neither of us wanted). We realized that the best way to avoid this from ever happening again was to reflect on our expectations. With each new nursing semester came an expectation talk. We would both take time to reflect on what we wanted, needed, and expected from the other. We would then have a scheduled conversation on the matter. These conversations are long and not fun, however they have strengthened our relationship beyond means! Now that I am out of school, we still have these talks as life always has twists and turns and with these changes come new expectations!
With my colossal level of fatigue, our dates were pretty uneventful. We would order pizza and watch Netflix or go on a Vespa ride to the bay. On Sundays, we started a tradition which we still do now. We would get bagels and coffee and listen to the Beatles. At the very least, we knew every Sunday we would have our bagel date! It doesn’t have to be extravagant but set time aside, even if it small, to devote to your significant other.