Dear Younger Me,

I have learned a lot about life since high school. The past five and a half years have been a whirlwind of opportunities and heartbreak. I often think about what I would tell my past self if I could go back in time.

I would tell myself that things seem hard now, but it will get better. When you are in a situation, things seem so overwhelming and like the hardships will never end, but this is only temporary.

Don’t let unimportant situations bring you down. When something is bothering you, think about if it will matter in five years. If it won’t, then don’t waste your time and energy dwelling on it.

Don’t worry about what others are saying. When people say mean things, it’s a reflection of who they are, not who you are. Don’t let the negativity that they feel bring you down. Keep your head high and know that you are more than other’s words.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You might not realize it now, but you are beautiful and one day you will look back and wish you noticed it in the moment.

Take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Don’t let a man or your fears prevent you from seizing the moment. Take that missions trip to Europe,  join the Peace Corps and go to Africa, enjoy the rain forests of Costa Rica, and road trip to California. You will never regret the chances you took, but you will regret missing out on opportunities.

It’s okay to be young. Don’t try to grow up too fast. You will only be eighteen once. You will only be nineteen once. Being the youngest person in the group isn’t a bad thing. You have your whole life ahead of you and soon enough you will have a ton of responsibilities to worry about. Enjoy the freedom.

Don’t be sorry for everything you do. You aren’t an inconvenience. You aren’t bothering people. You are worth more than you realize.

Sometimes the people that we love will hurt us the most. It’s okay to say enough is enough and leave the situation. It doesn’t make you a weak person; it just means that you value yourself enough to realize you don’t deserve to be treated that way.

I don’t regret anything that I have done in the past because it lead me to where I am today, but I do realize that I learned a lot over the past few years. I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned and the opportunities that I did take advantage of.

Reflection harbors growth.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

It’s All About Perspective

The outlook you have on situations in your life speaks to the kind of person that you are. I have been trying to focus on being a better person and a large part of that for me is changing my mindset. Today one of the nurses that I work with had an emergency and had to go home early. We desperately needed someone to cover her later hours and it didn’t seem like anyone was going to volunteer. Instead of thinking “why me?” I deliberately chose to think “why not me?”. If I can’t change the outcome of a situation, then my only option is to change my outlook on the situation.

When you have a bad day, try to remember that the bad days are what make the good days so magnificent. If you didn’t have bad days, you would’t appreciate the good days. This mindset goes for a lot of things. For example, I was in a very unhealthy relationship before I started dating my now-husband. It was my first exposure to a drug addict and I was completely unaware of what his behaviors signified.

Looking back, there were so many warning signs. He was stealing my seizure medication and selling it – when I approached him with my suspicions, he accused me of abusing my meds. I would wake up in the middle of the night and he would be gone (we lived together) and I would have to go out searching for him until he decided to come back. His stories never added up and he made me feel like a worthless human being. I lost my mind when I was in that relationship and I ended up in a psychiatric hospital due to a suicide attempt that December. Those moments were heartbreaking, but they also changed my life.

When I was admitted to the hospital, the guy I was with relapsed and went to prison for parole violation. I now know that was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point. It was just the thing I needed to wake me up and get me out of that situation.

This is when I starting hanging out with Blake (my husband). We worked together for a while, but I was in a relationship at the time. After I got home from the hospital and eventually went back to work, we became friends. I told myself that I wasn’t ready for another relationship, so we just stayed friends for a while. But then we fell in love, I went to nursing school, we got married, and the rest is history.

For a while I was angry. I didn’t understand why I had to experience the things that I did. I thought about how “unfair” it was and wondered why God would let something like that relationship happen in my life. I did a lot of “why me?” thinking.

As my relationship with my now-husband blossomed, I realized why I went through the emotionally abusive relationship that tore me apart. It’s because those bad days and bad experiences make me appreciate my husband and what we have so much more. My husband is such a kind man and if it weren’t for my relationship with my ex, I don’t think I would have appreciated my husband the way he deserves.

I wish my ex all of the happiness and health in the world. Just because he is/was an addict doesn’t mean that he is a bad person. But I will say that I am so incredibly grateful that the chapter in my life that included him is long gone. I learned so much about people and myself during that relationship. I have decided that instead of dwelling on the terrible and scary parts of life, I will focus on what I learned from the experience and how I have grown from the challenges that arise.

I can’t change what happened in my past, but I can decide how I will use those experiences to better my future.

I hope that you can find the strength within yourself to do the same.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

A Life of Learning

Let me be honest, I hated high school. I thought that meant that I hated learning. I didn’t go to college straight after school, so I had no other formal education. Now when I look back at my life, I realize that I never stopped learning. There are so many different types of learning and there is something out there for everyone.

  1. Hobby: Whether your hobby is photography, hydroponic gardening, brewing beer, crocheting,… there is an infinite amount of knowledge to be discovered. You could also unearth a new hobby! Start by evaluating what you like to view and/or read. My husband uses YouTube frequently when researching hobbies that he has interest in. That’s how he’s learned how to brew beer, start a hydroponic garden, and bake a ton of different kinds of bread. It’s a great beginning resource; especially if you are a visual learner.
  2. Language: Learning a new language could benefit your life exponentially. If you work in business, healthcare, or any other human relations position, chances are you will come across people who do not speak your native language. Sure, I took a couple years of Spanish in high school, but I definitely don’t speak fluently. Recently I brushed up on some of the language that I knew and I used Rosetta Stone to help me. It is an awesome visual tool to use. They even have an app for your phone/tablet, so you can learn on-the-go. There is, however, a fee to use their services. If you are looking for a more affordable option, you could use reliable websites and create your own flashcards. You could even tape up index cards around your house on things that tell you how to pronounce the objects in your studied language. For example, if you are learning Spanish, you could put an index card on your door that says “puerta” and each time you see the door with the card, you will relate the word with the object.
  3. College: There are so many options for college classes. You could go to a private institution or community college. If your schedule doesn’t allow for traditional in-person classes, a lot of schools offer online courses too. When I was in LPN school, we were mandated to complete Psychology 1 and 2, Sociology, and Nutrition online in addition to our full-time schedule. It was incredibly convenient that I could do my classwork and watch lectures when it was convenient for me.
  4. Occupational: One of the most useful ways that I have learned is through seminars that have been held by my job. Management of Aggressive Behaviors (MOAB) training, customer satisfaction training, and active shooter training to name a few. These are things that could help me in any line of work and even in my personal life at times. If your job offers any opportunities for additional education, I urge you to take them. And if they don’t currently offer anything, maybe you can be the one to introduce your company to educational opportunities for staff.
  5. Health: You could always learn about a new sport or, better yet, learn how to play a new sport. (Tennis, basketball, baseball…) You can also learn about health, what your body needs, and how to nourish your body. Just please make sure that you read credible sources and base your diet from those sources. I have read a lot (mostly online) about health and although a lot of it was very helpful, some of it was dangerous advice. So make sure you read credible sources and listen to your body! Learn about how to start running or how to begin lifting weights. Learn about diet and what vitamins that your body needs to sustain life. Maybe it’s because I work in the medical field, but learning about health has always intrigued me. There is so much to learn and it is for a great end result.

 

Never stop learning. Continue to develop yourself and your knowledge.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Gap Years

It’s easy in this day and age to compare your life with those that you see on social media. I am in my mid twenties and many of the people I went to school with now have bachelor degrees and their dream jobs. I tend to dwell on this subject as though I have become a slacker. Newsflash, I am not the only person my age without a four-year degree. I decided to take a couple “gap years” between high school and college and I am so grateful that I did.

A gap year is time between high school and college that a person uses to develop maturity, passions, skills, experiences, and knowledge that will help them to decide a career path and be successful in the future.

I was seventeen when I graduated high school and I wasn’t ready to make a decision that would alter the path of my life so drastically. I went to school at a private university that was $47,000 per year before scholarships and financial aid. I lasted one week. I went home for the weekend and found out that the allergic reaction I was having from my new body wash and shampoo was actually head lice and scabies. I was mortified. I returned to my dorm to pack up, treated my stuff, and then left for good.

I spent the next few years developing skills and learning things that would be vital for years to come. I built my photography business for the first few months. Then my mom started leaving the local newspaper on my bed with a job listing for housekeeper at the local hospital circled every week. Eventually, I applied, interviewed, and accepted the position. I learned so much about myself and about working in general during that job. This was my introduction to the medical field. The two years that I spent at that job taught me about teamwork, training new employees, managing aggressive behaviors from others, prioritizing responsibilities, patient centered care, leadership, among other things.

From there, I worked as a nurse’s aide at the hospital for a year. This is when I decided that I wanted to become a nurse. I loved my job as a nurse aide and I loved getting to interact with the patients. Financially, it was going to be difficult to go back to school. It didn’t seem like it was in the cards for me, but I got lucky. One of my patients contacted administration and said they would like to pay for the rest of my schooling. After all financial aide, I was short about $5,000 and I was so grateful that a stranger was willing to help me. So I went on to LPN school in Pennsylvania. It was the cheapest and quickest option at the time.

My mother is an LPN and my grandmother recently retired from being an LPN. I spent my whole life fighting against being a nurse. It’s something that I never even considered for the future and taking those gap years helped me to realize what I actually was interested in. I was much more mature than when I graduated from high school and when I did go back to school, I was ready. I worked hard and already had some experience under my belt that helped me throughout my schooling.

Now it’s my husband’s turn. He is currently going back to school for his RN and once he is a nurse, I will go back for my RN. We both took time off between high school and college, but I am so glad we did. I would have a degree in photojournalism and struggling for employment right now while buried in debt.

A gap year isn’t for everyone, but there is nothing wrong with taking time to figure out what you want in life and who you are. Your whole life is ahead of you and you are never too old to learn. Sure, I may not have a bachelors degree yet or my dream job, but I am working toward that goal. And I have a lot of real-life experiences that other people my age wouldn’t understand.

Listen to your gut and follow your heart. Life is about balance.

Love Always,

Elizabeth