The end is nye! Actually just the end of my undergraduate career. I teeter on the edge of my known world. Up until this point in life, I have always had a basic understanding of what comes next. School always transitioned into more school. Middle school to highschool. Involvement in those four years to lead to the optimal college. Where do I go to college is answered by where am I getting the best deal and most money to attend (simplified). You pick your major and have every class for the foreseeable future plotted and planned out. Then, graduation. The cap and gown seem a garb donned for the unknown.
Before now, my future plans were always related to education; a degree was the shiny thing tied in front of me leading me onward. Granted, I have some understanding of what comes next. I find a job in critical care nursing at XYZ health system. But past that, I have no idea. What city? What church? Where will I live? Who will be my people? Will I be good at my job? And the questions continue. The next 50-60 years of my life are societally defined by my work and, should I choose, family. Fifty years. I have yet to live half that! This is a period so long and so uncertain that it seems a a big black pit. What’s at the bottom? I dunno. I teeter on the edge of this void and prepare to dive in.
The majority of my preparation has been researching health systems. Research, apply, and pray for an interview. The process uniquely draws attention to one’s self and gives us an opportunity to see ourselves more clearly. When applying and interviewing, you always put your best foot forward; you capitalize on your strengths and minimize you shortcomings. The way you present and introduce yourself says a great deal about the things you value and how you identify yourself.
“Hi, my name is Jess! I am a nursing student from MSU set to graduate in December (the 17th to be exact, but who’s counting)! I am interested in seeking a critical care position and I was told you’re the one to talk to! My current clinical experience in a Neuro/Trauma ICU has made me fall in love with critical care. I especially like…”
And it goes on. Sometimes for hours.
You talk about yourself. But only because you must. You are friendlier and more chipper than normal. But only because you must. You make sure they only see the best of you. But only because you must. You have to do all these things in order to get the position you want, right?
We present a foundationally flawed image of ourselves. You minimize your flaws and capitalize your strengths, portraying a shiny but unrealistic version of yourself. Here is why my very being takes issue with this. I am not simply what I do well. I am more than the sum total of my accomplishments, experiences, and flaws. I am more than Jess, the MSU nursing student who wants critical care. My 30 second elevator speech, and I would argue everyone’s, fails to represent me as an individual.
None of these explain how or why I work. How or why I think. How or why I make the decisions that I make. The standard to which I hold myself and the driving force of my life are not translatable to 30 seconds and resumes. These fail to convey our identity because who and how and why you truly are cannot be conveyed through any medium other than the familiarity of souls.
I am not the things I have done. My identity is rooted in the things done for me. In a life and love given so freely it broke the chains of death. I am not the things I say I am. I am a child, beloved, given purpose and passion. I am not my professional conduct or nursing skills. I am an innately flawed individual, tripping and learning and growing my way down this path.
But I cannot pretend as if this knowledge has changed my interactions with potential employers. I have yet to translate this knowledge to action in these relationships during this time. How would it impact the way I present myself and the stories I choose to share? I pray that I may yet learn.