A childhood passion turned into a freelancing career. Jessica currently writes for various outlets in the healthcare space, including Nurse Guidance and American Nurse Today. She has also recently become a regular contributor to The Dog Files. Her lifetime goal is to publish a book (or two!).
This Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be grateful for.
I know, I say that every year - but this year is different. This year, for the first time in about 4 years, I am able to spend all of the holidays with my family. My 16-hour-night-shift days are behind me, and I’m incredibly grateful for my job that allows me to enjoy my holidays and weekends again.
But that job didn’t just fall in my lap. I had to work for it.
When my entire life was falling apart, I realized I wanted to make a change. A big one. I wanted out of shift work, out of the chaotic emergency room, and out of constant exhaustion. The problem was, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. It was like being back in high school, trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up all over again.
So what did I do? I hustled. I applied to a variety of nursing jobs and reached out to contacts I had. One of those contacts told me about a job opening at her organization and put me in contact with the Director.
After my first conversation with the Director of the department, I was sold. The job sounded perfect (as perfect as jobs could be) and I was definitely qualified for it. It was everything I wanted in a job and more.
All of this was happening around the holidays, but I was persistent. It took several follow-up emails, long phone calls, and two interviews (one with the entire organization!) but I landed the job and started in March.
The entire process took months, but I’m grateful for every moment of persistence and hustle. I learned what it was like to work for something, to have to prove why you’re the best person for the job (the woman I was competing with was actually more qualified than I was and had more experience, but I was told I nailed my interview).
I’m grateful I didn’t settle for another job I would’ve hated in the end, and I’m grateful I didn’t stay put in my old job just because it was easier than trying to find a new one. I’m grateful I pulled myself out of the ugliness that was my life this time last year, and I’m grateful I found my inner hustle.
On a more personal note, I advocate for never settling in every aspect of your life. I learned this lesson the hard way, but with the crumble of my marriage came the beginning of a new phase of my life. Now I’m in this amazing phase of self-discovery and growing a (relatively) new relationship that’s turning out to be everything I have always wanted.
So on this Thanksgiving Day, be grateful - and never settle.
As a side-hustle freelancer, the word “no” isn’t a big part of my vocabulary.
But I’m here to tell you, if you want to be sane enough to enjoy your successes - learn how to say no.
So many of us are people-pleasers, right? By day, I’m a Registered Nurse. My entire career is based on helping others and people-pleasing.
In my freelance business, I want to please all of my client’s. I want to find out what they want and deliver even more than they asked for. In my job, I want to take on every project and I want to kill it in everything I do.
I’m going to share something here that my boyfriend told me when we first started dating, and I’ve found it to be applicable to so many things:
He said, “Just because you can do everything (alone), doesn’t mean you should have to.”
I love being Wonder Woman, don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of my multi-tasking, my ability to meet ridiculous deadlines, and my (sometimes annoying) hyper-organization.
But I’m learning to say no.
Figure out your priorities.
Note: I said your. Not your family’s, not your husband’s, not your boss’. Your priorities. Your priority might be more time with your family, but that’s still your decision. That’s how you want to spend more of your time. If your priority is to spend more time marketing your side-hustle business, then by all means say YES to those late-night SEO research sessions.
Know your worth, then add tax.
We’ve all seen the quote floating around on social media - and I wish I could give credit to whoever came up with it. Because it’s wonderful. Whether it’s determining rates for your side business or how many overtime hours you’re going to put in this week… know your worth. Determine what that bottom line is for you, and stick to it. Don’t leave it up to others to tell you what your worth is either, that’s all you, baby.
Avoid the snap decisions.
I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of the “reflexive yes”. Whatever it was, I’d take it on. ‘I’ll figure it out later,’ I would tell myself - knowing full well I wouldn’t have time for it and I would end up regretting that simple one-syllable word. If you have the option, take some time between the ask and your response. Even five minutes can be beneficial. Those five minutes you can reflect on whether or not this fits in your priorities, if it is a reasonable ask (remember that whole self-worth thing?), and if it’s something meaningful to you. Sometimes we take things on with minimal reward or return on investment, but we do it because it is meaningful to us. That’s okay! What’s the point of a life full of meaninglessness experiences?
Ask yourself why.
Are you saying yes because you want to impress your boss? Are you doing it because you have a real interest in the project? Are you saying yes because you need the money? There are a multitude of reasons why we take on projects or jobs. Maybe you have an opportunity to work with a highly respected client, and it’s important to you to build a relationship with them. Maybe you feel passionate about a certain project and want to be a part of it. Whatever your “why” is, figure it out and stick to it. If you’re struggling to come up with a reason why - consider saying no.
I am attending my first national ANPD conference, all expenses paid, because my employer believes in the value of my own professional development (that is what I do, after all...). I used to see people filling up airport waiting areas, busy typing away on their ultra sleek laptops, talking on a cell phone about when they fly back and how many people they had to meet. I used to wonder what it was like to live that life - to get paid to travel, to network, to learn amazing things in your field.
I used to wonder, and now I do it.
I have been at my job less than 6 months and this is my second flight-worthy trip, third time in a hotel. I have done this enough times now to complain about which airports make you feel like you are on a trek across the mountains with no map and which hotels could improve their room service menus.
I spent the afternoon listening to some of the most accomplished women in my field talk about the art of self-promotion, career planning, and goal setting. To say I am inspired is an understatement. I'm feeling grateful, hopeful, excited, and accomplished. (and hot!)
The best feeling of all, though, is the indescribable feeling of "I am becoming who I wanted to be". I say becoming, not became, because I don't know if we ever really complete this journey. I don't think we ever stop growing into ourselves, learning about ourselves, and letting new experiences shape us.
We never know what our future has in store for us. We can spend years planning our lives to the minute and still be thrown off course. But we can set goals, and we can make plans, but in the end we are only going to become who we are meant to be.
If you love a girl who's damaged, there's a few things you should know.
If you love a girl who's damaged, you'll work harder than you would with any other girl.
You'll spend years proving yourself, convincing her you aren't the monster in her worst nightmares, making her feel safe instead of scared.
You'll get frustrated, because she won't always believe you when you say "I love you".
You'll question everything, because she'll challenge you in ways you have never been challenged.
You'll feel sad, because you'll realize how badly someone has hurt her, how ugly someone made her feel, and how even after all this time, she still doesn't believe she's beautiful.
You'll feel anger, at everyone who is behind that distant look in her eyes, who taught her to be guarded, and who she thinks about when she drinks too much.
You'll feel more love than you thought possible, and if you do it right, she'll give you even more.
You'll want not just her midnights, but her future, her Sunday mornings. You'll want to give her every dream she ever had, with brunch and movie dates and intellectual debates at 4am.
You'll want to do everything in your power to keep her safe, to protect her, to shield her from every moment of sadness.
You'll want to hold her, hold her hand in a crowded place, listen to her nightmares as often as her dreams.
You'll love her, and once she realizes that - you'll have something that no one else does. You'll have the love and devotion of a woman who is damaged, a woman who trusts you are the one to put her back together, and a woman who will let you.
A few months ago, I was laying on the beach sipping a daiquiri, watching a woman about my age. She was in her bikini, the man with her just ordered a bottle of rose, and they were laughing, clearly enjoying themselves. The woman also had her laptop open in front of her. She was "catching up on some work" - while laying on the beach drinking rose.
I, now green with envy, became determined to find out what this woman's job was. I couldn't hear much, but it was something along the lines of digital marketing - or something. Not my field. I was on that beach because I had decided after my unexpected divorce that I was going to do something just for me. The problem was, because I still worked in the Emergency Department as a nurse, I could only get a few shifts covered. I had pleaded with my coworkers to trade nights with me, and managed to get four days off. Four.
While enjoying my four days on the beach, I became slightly obsessed with this plaguing thought, "what am I really doing with my life?" This woman seemed no different than me, and here she was on the beach on a Wednesday, drinking rose with her boyfriend while "catching up on work". She wasn't on vacation. This was her life.
I had already been feeling very Eat, Pray, Love since the divorce, and decided it was time to stop accepting things I didn't want and go for the things I did. But what was I going to do?
When I got back from vacation, I was on a mission. I wanted out of a job where I had to work until 3 am, feeling beyond stressed, unhappy with the current state of things. I sent an e-mail to a contact I had from an editorial committee that I am on. I asked her if she heard of any job openings I might be qualified for, pass it on. She immediately responded with a yes! There was a position opening that wasn't even posted yet, but she believed would be perfect for me. Little did I know how perfect it actually was.
Fast forward, through multiple phone calls, e-mails, and interviews (some with the entire organization staring at me over a long conference table), I had landed my dream job. I can utilize my nursing degree and my passion for writing, research, and planning. I can do work from the beach if I want to. I can work from home. I have vacation time. I have flexible hours. There's great opportunities for advancement, and the exact kind of advancement I dreamed of. Just yesterday, I booked a week long stay at a Disney resort with my company credit card, for work.
My job, literally, is to plan things. While still using my nurse brain.
It just hit me today as I was leaving the office that I had, in some ways, become this woman. I've found my place, and I've discovered a whole new dimension to the nursing profession that I never knew about. I've found my career,
My point is, you can find your dream job. You can get out of where you are. It may take time, it may take perseverance, relentless e-mails and anxiety-causing interviews. It may take hard work and it may take passion. But you can. You can be happy. If your current situation isn't fulfilling you, start doing what you need to do to change it.