I cried. Wept. Sobbed. Nose running. Ugly hot tears. Super ugly crying face. Shoulders shaking, then sinking in defeat. WHY am I like this? Nobody else is like this. I don’t like people. I don’t like myself. I hate everything. Except my cat. Because she doesn’t care I’m crying. She probably just sits in silent judgment but she doesn’t say anything. And that’s ok…I’m glad no one is here to witness this total shit show of me falling apart. Again.

I went into nursing school so bright-eyed, so excited, so NOT going to nursing school so I could marry a doctor, SO going to nursing school so I could have pride in myself, learn who I am, save some lives, save my own. I really thought this was college…you know…the kind of place where you meet a lot of lifelong friends, learn a little bit, buy a lot of college sweatshirts, eat a lot of Taco Bell, make a few bad decisions, pull some all-nighters, laugh a lot, and learn how to be a good friend while holding my bestie’s hair back. I really wanted to make a difference. I really thought this would be…not easy…but not quite so ridiculously hard.

My first day of school, I showed up looking like a million dollars…thin, beautiful, ready to Florence Nightingale the shiznit out of life. I studied everything…the book, the notes, my friend’s notes, the back of an IHOP menu, the internet, my mentor’s flashcards…I was ready to annihilate this test. Then I took it. I swear I died in that exam and felt my body floating up to be with the Lord. WHAT. THE. F. IS. THIS.

I made it through the semester. I don’t know how. Perhaps my Survival Kit of Red Bull, pizza, ranch dressing, tears, and swallowing it down with bad decisions and the distinct aftertaste of almost failure. HOW WAS THIS SO HARD FOR ME? Other people were doing so well, looked so put together, aced all their tests, stayed skinny while I packed on the freshman 14000 and looked like Britney Spears, circa Total Meltdown.

But I didn’t give up. I cried a little more. I took one test at a time. I got better at studying, better at time management, I learned fancy words like “myocardial infarction” and disgusting words like “hematochezia” and slowly but surely, I realized, “I know what the freak I’m talking about.” Yessss I’m doing it…I’m becoming a nurse. Some days I still felt like an imposter, but I knew if I kept at it, didn’t give up, cried again, sat in a bath made up solely of my tears, and just kept putting another foot forward, I may be able to do this thing afterall.

And guess what? I did. And I’m proud of my tears. I’m proud of my emotional scars. I’m proud that every damn time a clinical instructor or huffy preceptor or snotty ass classmate who got her 1,324th A got in my face or in my soul, I let it go…I realized that my story is my own and my journey is unique and beautiful. And I graduated. And I became a real nurse. And a really really good one. And the tears were worth it because I got to hold babies, nurse them to health, code them back to life, and nourish their little bellies and their souls. And the pain was worth it.

Because I AM A NURSE. I MADE IT. I AM A CHAMPION. And you will too, my friend…just keep crying and holding your cat and watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy because one day, you’ll be watching an episode and know every medical term and condition they treated and you’ll feel like the bad ass you are. Straighten your crown, sweetheart. You have some nursing to do.