Self Care, and Supporting your fellow students during the most intense week of Nursing School.
1. “I’m too embarrassed to tell my friends I’m struggling” Admitting you aren’t doing well is easier said than done, and perhaps easier to do with strangers, rather than friends. Consider the one person you trust implicitly - it may begin with an approachable instructor; write out the things you have found difficulty with, including skills and lecture, and if you feel comfortable with them, ask them to look it over and give their thoughts on what you may be missing. Try the same thing with the one trusted friend; ask them for help with areas you just do not understand. It’s possible your friend will have a very simple way of explaining things that is lost during the speed of lectures/clinicals, or by an Instructor’s big words. A different perspective sometimes helps. It’s ok to admit you’re struggling, admitting a weakness is the attribute of the strong. It’s also just as ok if you want to keep it to yourself. Strength in solitude & personal reflection.
2. “I have a friend who is struggling/failed the semester. What can I do to support them?” It’s possible they do not want anyone to help. They may prefer to figure things out on their own, without any advice. Sometimes the best thing you can do is acknowledge their struggle, and allow them the space they need to act on it alone - and letting it be known that you will be there to listen if and when they need to talk. Also, there’s the kind of friend everyone needs that pulls you out of despair with a challenge to get up and get on with it.
3.“I’m a last minute studier. Everyone makes fun of me saying I am not committed”. If you’ve figured out a way to compartmentalize your study, retain information rapidly, or perhaps have a photographic memory - then what does it matter what others think? Celebrate your strength. Damn the naysayers.
4. “I’m in danger of failing this semester unless I score a perfect 80%” That’s a lot of pressure, walking into finals knowing you need to earn a specific score. This sort of stress almost overshadows what you need to do. At this point, it’s likely more about going in with a clear head, preceding every exam with things that will calm you. It’s not for others to decide. Find what relaxes you the most, and brings about calm; it may be perfect stillness, quietude, or it may be loud motivating music. If last minute studying is your thing; Create a quick - tips study sheet, start playing the audio recordings while you do errands, and rewrite all your notes from scratch. Carry flash cards everywhere, read them while you wait for your coffee, read them while you’re doing laundry, read them while you’re walking to the bus stop/train.
5. “I failed. Now what?” There’s no real words of comfort that would have any meaning. It’s ok to be upset, you have a right to feel frustrated, it’s heartbreaking if you’ve missed out by a single point - and it’s just as heartbreaking if you’ve struggled all semester even though you’ve worked just as hard as anyone. There aren’t any words that can convey how hard it will be to have to explain to your loved ones what happened, when you’re not so sure yourself. Allow yourself the personal time you need to reflect, even if there aren’t any answers. And when you’re ready - when YOU are ready, not when someone else decides; Redefine your goals. Break them down into a daily & weekly plan. Then a monthly one, six months, a year - and finally define clearly what you visualize as your dream. Make yourself a new plan, start over from scratch. Begin again. Allow no one’s opinion of you repeating to interfere with your focus. Eliminate negativity surrounding you, and invite only those who encourage you, and those you can learn and grow with. If you take one thing away from the devastating experience of not passing; let it be that while the rest of the word labels them as “failures” - add your own spin on it to include opportunities to refine learning, discipline and a detour on the way to your dream. It may take longer than you expected, and the road may be rough, begin by believing in yourself and trust you will eventually get there.