"It is always cold on the Wall."
"You think so?"
"I know so, my lady."
"Then you know nothing, Jon Snow," she whispered.
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons
This semester in Nursing School I was reminded that I am Jon Snow. I know nothing tangible, except that The Wall is out there, somewhere. When winter gets here, I want to be on the correct side of the wall.
Any Marathoner finisher knows that the wall is in your head, and if you believe that you can get to the other side, you will succeed at finishing the event.
But the wall that knocked me to my knees recently is not the mental and physical exhaustion that goes with running for 4 hours. I hit The Wall about 25% of the way through my semester, and I hit it hard. I had a moment that I haven’t had in a long time, and I questioned whether or not I am smart enough to do what I’m doing.
Plenty of people graduate from nursing school every year... but a heck of a lot more than that START nursing school every year. In fact, looking around the trenches at my fellow soldiers, and reflecting back on the fallen many in my class, I realize we have lost about 40% of those who started with us.
100% of those people had good grades at some point in their lives. Like me, they worked hard to get into school. Like me, those folks took and passed classes before Nursing School that were prerequisite level classes intended to weed out the unworthy.
I typically compare the Nursing School experience to a marathon training plan. The long miles getting ready for the big day wear you down physically and mentally, and on the particularly tough days you wonder - Why am I doing this? And, Will the end ever come? Or even, Should I be here?
So two weeks ago on Monday, I hit the wall when I failed a few assignments that I was well prepared for, which scared me. If I don’t study and fail, I deserve to fail. If I study until my eye twitches, I figure, it’s a problem with my brain.... And it wasn’t one thing, it was multiple assignments in different classes.
I sat in front of that wall and looked at it’s 700 feet of un-scalable ice covered rock and I began to cry. I tucked myself into a corner and sobbed until my throat was raw and my tinny voice sounded like that of a stranger. I let the tears flow until no more came.
And I then I blew my nose, washed my face, gathered my tattered self-esteem around me like a flimsy cloak, and I stood in the shadow of the wall. I tried to tell myself “I am McGyver. I have a cloak, some books, and a Smart Phone. I can climb, tunnel through or fly over this wall. I can.”
It was at this point that I tried to go have a thoughtful conversation with someone important to my academic success... and as I attempted to push words past a growing lump in my throat, I knew there was no hope for me... and I cried some more.
I wanted to quit.
I desperately wanted to lie down in the dirt and sleep for a week and see what happened if I checked out of my world. Because maybe the wall would melt in a week's time, or another student could pull the wall down, or... something...
Of course that is NOT what I did.
I gathered the others on the wrong side of the wall and we began to formulate a plan. We made lists and charts. Bit by bit, we scaled the wall using the will and ingenuity of the students in the group. Shared energy led to success, and shared success led to energy.
Phone calls were made. Homework was finished. Dogs were walked. Breakfast was eaten.
Above all else, the flames of panic were smothered under the wet blanket of determination.
Today is Friday. The first week of midterms are done, and there are more to come next week. But, I’m not feeling worry about that right now.
The view from the top of this wall is not so bad. I’ve made it here, and I can see the finish. All I need to do is just keep going (TWSS).
Yesterday’s failure is in the past sitting beside Yesterday’s accomplishment. I can’t dwell on the success or the failure; I must focus on the now and do what needs to be done today to prepare for the next test. Worrying about tomorrow’s difficulty is a waste of energy.
Today I will enjoy the view, because today is the day that matters.