Okay, jumping right into it – as someone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis, there are numerous and frequent times when I venture outside of my comfort zone. But the last time I did something truly beyond the boundaries of my comfort was when I moved from Washington to Tennessee and started a new job.
I know that this is something that would make many people nervous, but for me this was a bit much because it was so far beyond what I had ever known and done before. I was born and raised in Washington, but with my job becoming increasingly intolerable and my family announcing their intent to move cross-country, I chose to be brave and make some big life changes, too.
The biggest challenge was integrating into a new workplace. My previous hospital had conditioned me to feel like I wasn’t capable of anything, and so since I was in a new environment I decided to create a new “me”, so to speak. Very literally a case of fake-it-till-you-make-it. I knew that I was coming into this new situation with several years of experience, and so I decided to be brave and act like an experienced NICU nurse (which I was/am, but it felt weird due to anxiety).
As I began to work in my new unit, I realized that my “be brave” plan was in fact working! Being trusted as an experienced nurse prompted me to act as such, and from there I’ve been invested in growing and learning as much as I can. When faced with an experience that scares me a little bit, I do my best to go at it as best I can, using my resources (a popular nursing term) to work my way through. Generally the experience isn’t as bad as I had anticipated, though there have been some times where I walk away thinking “What the heck just happened? Did I really just do that?”
I’ve also taken another big step and started preparing to precept new nurses. I love working with and mentoring new nurses, and so when the opportunity came along to take a preceptor class, I agreed. I’ve also unofficially precepted a new nurse for two days before I received any of this official training, but that’s another story (we all survived, but it was definitely a night to remember!) Being responsible for another nurse’s training makes me nervous, I’ll admit, but since I have the desire and the skills I decided to take the necessary steps to train new NICU nurses. I have yet to officially precept anyone, but even though I feel very nervous at the thought of all that responsibility, I know that I have the experience and the skills, and so I am choosing to step outside of my comfort zone and grow.
There are still uncomfortable days where I wish I could crawl back inside my nice cozy comfort zone, but overall I am glad that I am making these steps to grow and learn. As we say to new nurses and new parents – “It’s all about those baby steps!”