What?! Patients asking ME questions?

When talking to people at work, they naturally inquire about my life. I guess I seem interesting to them, or they’re just being polite. I would guess the latter for most with a select few actually being interested in my life. The usual questions that arise are: 1) Are you married? 2) Why did you pick nursing? 3) What ethnicity are you, if you don’t mind me asking? 4) Do you think you’ll stick with ICU nursing for a long time?

At first, these questions seemed to throw me off balance. I was NOT prepared to answer these kinds of intimate questions with strangers, especially when I was a scared new ICU nurse. When I first started nursing, I’d give some generic answers i.e. I chose nursing because I wanted to help people, which is true, but that answer doesn’t encompass the breadth of it all. So, let’s see about each question. Shall we?

1. Are you married?

Of course, the answer is no. However, it slightly irks me that this is usually the first personal question someone would ask me at work. I am not defined by whether I am single, married, or whatnot. I am defined by much more than that. I am defined by what I do, what I say, how I think. Naturally, the older generation of adults may have a different perspective than me due to their upbringing in a different time period. I don’t mind answering the question and will answer politely when prompted. Although I think I’d be more comfortable with, “Where are you from,” or “Where did you go to school?” as initial questions. I don’t think people are being rude, but as the initial question I’m like, REALLY? Of all the questions, THAT one is your first. There are so much better questions out there people! And I’ll answer most questions openly. So, that particular question doesn’t bother me, and I’ll happily answer it. I just think the sequence is what bothers me most. I’m also always tempted to answer questions in the form of a question too. So beware confused patients 😉

2. Why did you pick nursing?

Now that is the million dollar question because I can honestly say I do not have a wholesome answer. I’ll bounce around a few reasons why:

  • I wanted to be a doctor but didn’t want to dedicate my 20’s and 30’s, not to mention wallet, to a profession I wasn’t sure about, so I defaulted to nursing.
  • My family is/was in the healthcare profession.
  • I am compassionate and care for the well-being of others.
  • I needed to pay off Wesleyan somehow.

And maybe I picked nursing due to all of these reasons. However, as time goes on, I’m not sure if those reasons are enough to keep going with bedside nursing, or perhaps nursing in general. As I get into my mid-20s, I’m learning a lot about myself. And being by myself has helped me see who I am and what I want. Just me. No other outside factors. To me, it sounds incredibly selfish, but if you don’t know what you want, then how can you figure out who you are? I had embarked on a journey that encompassed a lot of searching. Well, I think I found what I was searching for (for now at least)! Life can be scary! And I am not going to disclose that information for now. Quite contradictory to, “And I’ll answer most questions openly,” but hey it’s my blog. I do what I want.

3. What ethnicity are you, if you don’t mind me asking?

Of course, I don’t mind you asking about my ethnicity. If that question offends me, then I would probably be a huge jerk and have identity issues. My ethnicity is part of who I am, and it may seem strange to other people that I don’t speak Korean or really know much about the culture. But, what am I supposed to do? I cannot overcome forces beyond my control. I love my Korean-ness, and I love my non-Korean-ness. I also like that I come up with non-words. Non-Korean-ness, seriously? Anyway…

4. Do you think you’ll stick with ICU nursing for a long time?

Also, another million dollar question. I like the intensity that ICU nursing can bring. However, the things I want to gain from nursing seem fewer and farther between. Half the time I go home feeling like I could do more, but then realize I’m crazy because my feet kill me, my eyes are heavy, and I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about my patients or work. I know I am one to give 110% in whatever I do, but some days giving 110% gets to be exhausting when seeing sub-optimal results. It gets disheartening. I fear for my future that the fire inside me will slowly burn out, and I definitely don’t want that to happen. I like the drive that I have. So, is ICU nursing the place for me if I have these reservations already?

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