Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Devastated Narcissist Careening Towards a Dismal Future"

“Did you see God? Was she mad at me?”

- Jack from the series Will & Grace

The test for me on whether a particular career is suited for me is simple: when I wake up in the morning, do my eyes shine with excitement and anticipation as I plan the day ahead, or do I dread opening my eyes and face the long hours working in automation?

Just before I handed in my resignation in my previous job in Customer Care, I had already been strongly considering one of my options: to switch careers and get into Nursing. Everyone was doing it, and by everyone I meant my parents, my brother, two of my closest friends, my nieces, nephews, cousins, and everyone between the age of 16 and 46 in my second and third degree relations. And so I gave in, even with the nagging feeling that somehow Nursing was not for me. I was too busy imagining my life abroad in a few years time: financially stable with a fancy home, nice clothes, a fast car, and endless opportunities for travel, replete with vivid visions of The Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, and snow falling on some maple-lined park.

But alas, the road was not paved with golden bricks as I have imagined. It was burdened with disasters from the beginning: when I took the entrance exam, I mistakenly used black pen instead of pencil, despite the large sign on a table that said Get you pencils here. I called the Guidance Office days later to inquire about my error, thinking that my exam had been invalidated. Jimalin Apar, then a counselor (she later headed the office, prior to leaving the school for her Master’s Degree in Diliman under a UN scholarship) answered my query.

“Ma’am, I read the first part thoroughly before answering and I was looking for the instructions saying use HB pencil only, but there was none. Naturally, I thought black ballpen would be acceptable.” I said rather defensively.

“It’s ok Mr. Hinunangan, I checked and you actually had the highest score in your batch.”

I paused. “Oh, ok. Thanks then.”

I took it as a sign from God. But my problems had actually just begun- during the first week at orientation I learned tattoos were forbidden. The problem was that I had three, all of them I got back in 2002. That in itself was an odyssey: writing a formal letter to the Dean and the Clinical Preceptors, with promises to have it removed. Until now, I am still in the second treatment of laser removal, and they have not and will not completely disappear.

The change of environment came as a shock to me- a true blue maroon blood, who was used to total freedom in Diliman, was suddenly in a strict Catholic school. By my second week I had a disagreement with one of the professors over how she ran the class- she treated students in a condescending manner complete with remarks like “Class, insults in College are ok”. I marched to the Dean’s office, armed with a pen and three pieces of bond paper, and wrote an inflammatory letter (I don’t remember the exact words but I believe it said something like “how dare this woman treat her students this way, blah blah… she should not be allowed to endorse her crooked perspectives to young minds!). The following Monday, I apologized for acting so rashly. What a way to make a first impression.

To me, it felt like I was having withdrawal symptoms from work. I would suddenly wake up at midnight, as I normally did to prepare for my early morning shift. I would crave my meals at odd times, and sometimes I would just decide to be absent because I was depressed that I wasn’t working anymore. They never said changing careers would be easy.

Another thing- I was back in the closet. A lot of fellow students ask about my personal life- mainly why I wasn’t married or why I don’t have a girlfriend. That was, of course, until I came out. Blogging wasn’t only the instrument of my “emancipation”, it also became an outlet for me.

After our brief Literature class, I was hooked. I rediscovered the joys of reading, and of writing stories. Nursing school for me, had become nothing but a blur of activities: PRS, lectures, reports, quizzes and exams. The only time I’d come alive was when I was in front of my laptop. The most significant things that happened for me that year was creating this blog and releasing my book.

So each day I’d be on autopilot: go to school and do “the nursing thing”. I have come to re-evaluate what I really want. Seems silly to me now that the only reason why I took the course was to move to the US. It is too late for me to make another detour, so I promised myself I’d just finish this. It just kills me how each day in school the only thing I think about is when it’s going to be over. I usually give 200% to whatever I do, but this time around I really feel it isn’t for me. But of course, I’d keep on going.

I remember a funny incident when a Clinical Preceptor told me, being a perpetual class officer: “Motivate the class”. I almost laughed in sarcasm. Oh dear. I can barely even convince myself to put on my uniform. Once, I was told by the former moderator of the Council of Leaders (who already resigned from the school to teach in Manila) to run for President. I simply told him I had other priorities already, and that the whole student leadership extravaganza was more appropriate for young ones who would benefit the most from the experience, not a 27 year old guy who already worked as a team manager and was in a process of a reluctant career change.

Can’t wait to see how this one turns out.


Robin Avorque said...

Nursing is actually boring if you were my classmate in college 3 years ago... oh yeah!!!

lately, thanks to modern technology aka vcd and dvd formats of supplemental lectures and the willingness of the new breeds of clinical preceptor(ahem!) to improve one's knowledge in the nursing profession and education through enrolling in masteral studies as well as getting updates from online journals.

Nursing isn't just a profession... it is a vocation... I hope it would change your perspective about life the way it changed mine of the better.

By the way, Thanks Thaddeus for giving me a copy of your book...

It may never have chance to be featured in Oprah's book of the month club but it sure is a strong premonition of a gifted author in the near future. kudos!

In case you need a contributor for your future books... Why bother to get Dr. Margarita Holmes when I can do it better and for free... if you know what I mean... hahaha!!!

Have a great day!!!

cant_u_read said...

relax and let the divine purpose unfold. whether nursing is or is not for you, you will come out a better from this experience. who knows, maybe you're bound to write a novel set in a hospital that would be turned to a movie and will be definitive of our generation? and the only way to write it beautifully and truthfully is to be immersed in that world.

all the best to you, thad! big kiss from hk!

Remcyl said...

frankly Thad, I was in tears after reading this.

I too feel exactly how you feel. Questioned. Confused. Forced.

Never in my life has my family seen what I'm really capable of doing. They consider the world as a ground for academic achievers only. that creativity could never lead you anywhere but poverty. Academic achiever? something I'm totally not.

As if that wasn't hell enough, I'm not even accepted for who I am.

Im really glad to have known a good friend like you. Someone I can relate to and share my problems with. It makes my day a lot easier knowing that I can turn to someone who can understand me.

but let's prove to them we can make it Thad. We may not like what we're taking right now, but it doesn't mean we're bound to fail. After all, you and I emancipated from someone who used to hide in the closet and afraid of taking risks, to someone prepared to face the world.

Phoenix said...

@ everyone: my apologies guys, the drama queen was having a field day kahapon ; ) seriously, i'm sure lots of people feel that way sometimes yun nga lang they prefer to keep it in. i'm usually the type who would just let it all out (emotionally slutty! joke!). pasenya na

@ robin: i do hope my perspective changes.. and thank you for being so understanding = ) (lol! i doubt if i'd make her book club, and of course i'll consider the offer ;)

@ rye: hugz :) thank you

@ remcyl: i'm sure it'll turn out well for the both of us.. = ) we just have to stick around to find the answer


jericho said...

to be in cusp of change .. the best and scariest place to be.

crystal_farmer said...

hm, why are tattoos not allowed in nursing school? it sounds weird.

Phoenix said...

@ jericho: the best place? hmm still remains to be seen for me ; )

@ crystal farmer: clean skin is apparently prerequisite and i'm already tainted.. but i doubt if that's still an issue now, after all i came clean to the admin already

crystal_farmer said...

the last few years i've been meaning to get a tattoo, too, but i haven't because i form keloids and i fear that the tattoo will end up "embossed."

Phoenix said...

@ crystal farmer: there is a risk, yes. i suppose if the artist is competent (and as long as the design is not too elaborate) there is actually little chance of scarring. but make sure you are up to it because the removal of the tattoo is a lot more painful and would either produce a keloid or hypertrophic scar.

my tattoo has no color, sobrang simple (good thing!) but the whole treatment sucks.. goodluck with yours = ) it's quite a kick wearing your personality on your skin, but i guess tattoos are not for everybody


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