Of Courage and Helicopters

There is something slightly unnerving about starting fresh. It doesn't matter why I'm taking the big step. Still, I can be a bundle of nerves. That is exactly what I'm experiencing in my professional life. My goal has always been to decrease my work hours outside the home and distance myself from toxic situations. This is the story of my leap of faith, helicopters, and finding my courage to move on.

The moment I knew I was leaving a place I'd long thought of as toxic, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. It was like I had been holding my breath for years at work. Changing jobs means I can do more with my time, writing and spending more quality time with my family. I grew weary of the emotional outbursts and microaggressions that often occurred at work. I had tired of the constant negative energy and felt like I was underwater, struggling to breathe. What kept me in this job? I loved my job and helping the patients, empowering them to advocate for themselves. I loved helping them to become partners in their health and wellness. The thank yous, in a world where being rude is fashionable, were beautiful and appreciated. But somewhere along the way, it became personal; my peace was under fire daily simply for being who I am. The phrase bring all of who you are to work does not apply to everyone. Finally, I had to admit that this job, no matter the satisfaction I received working with the patients, was no longer my road to travel. It was time for a change.

Each time I have changed jobs, I've felt a call to that area in nursing, high-risk obstetrics. I knew there was a need for representation there. Obstetrics few brown nurses worked in obstetrics at the time since it was a prime nursing job. I mentioned in a previous post how I was determined to ensure the doctors and the medical staff heard the women in my care. It was doubly important that pregnant African American women and teens had a voice. Because of my health concerns, I reluctantly moved out of obstetrics and into my current position in wound care. Again, representation mattered. Americans of African descent have always had a complicated relationship with health care.

When African Americans present for medical care, their hopes and, more importantly, their fears come with them. Throughout the years, I had to educate staff that when an African American man presented as angry was, most times, afraid of the unknown. Would he lose his leg because of the horrific draining ulcer he had by genetics, not life choices? I explained that the African American woman that is loudly trying to control the room most of the time is because no one had listened to her previously. She felt no one cared how the painful oozing lumps in her armpits, private areas, and buttocks were embarrassing and made her feel self-conscious and, therefore, unlovable and unattractive. For the African American patient, representation can matter. I've often helped to ease a patient's concerns by assuring them they will get the support and care for their health needs.

The day I realized I had sold myself short was when I applied for a new job. I want to say it was just that simple, but it wasn't. I struggled with the decision. Was this the correct move? Was this the right time? Am I too old to change jobs? Was I overreacting? These are all questions that anyone in an unhealthy relationship will recognize. Bad relationships do not always have to be personal ones. It can be a job that provides the money that allows you to do the things you want or buy the stuff you need. Sometimes it's a trap. The job can feel as if it defines you. I initially talked myself out of interviewing for the position. Then the next day at work, the negativity and vindictiveness appeared and reminded me why I needed a change. I made the call and set up an interview. So, with a heavy heart, I informed my current manager, whom I like and respect, that I had applied for a transfer. My eyes burned with unreleased tears at the thought that I might finally be free of the yoke that paid my bills but had begun to drain my soul of happiness and peace.

My interview couldn't have gone better. But I settled into my old ways. I should have put my uncertainty to bed and packed it away, right? No. I second-guessed myself until one morning, the parable of the drowning man popped into my mind. This may seem expected, but for me, it wasn't. I knew of this lesson, but I am not the type to read the bible or profess knowledge of its associated stories. However, I believe in listening to the world around me. Call it intuition, a sign, a whisper, or whatever you'd like. I have always heard and listened to these types of messages, and I listen most of the time. Years of increased stress had taken more of a toll on me than I realized. It had disconnected me so much that, for once in my life, I didn't trust the whispers that had always guided me.

As the story goes, a man was trapped in a terrible storm, and his area flooded. A preacher came with a canoe. The man turned him down because he was waiting on the Lord to save him. As the water rose, the man moved to the balcony of his house. Another person came in a motorboat arrive and asked him to get in. He replied again that he was waiting on the Lord to save him. Finally, the levee breaks, and the man has to climb to the roof. A pilot in a helicopter spots the man holding onto the steeple of his home and offers him help. The man refuses because he is waiting for God. The man drowned when the water rose above his house.

I was drowning, and the new position was my helicopter. At each stage, if there was a problem, it melted away, keeping my path clear to leave my job. But each time, I questioned whether this job was my job. I would get a message from the potential manager affirming her interest, or the turmoil in my current position would remind me why I needed to leave. These were my canoe and motorboat.

The last obstacle was negotiating my salary. The human resources representative was relentless in refusing my salary terms. Again, I was sure this was proof that the job was not my helicopter. However, the phrase "ask for help" flashed in my mind upon waking the next morning and dogged me the rest of the day. I made a call. Asking for help and accepting help broke down the last barrier. I received a fair offer and signed the deal.

What is the moral of my story?

Remove the toxicity that's within your power.

Life is too short—still, the negative self-talk.

Understand and embrace your fear.

Above all, dare to begin again, and by all means, recognize and welcome your helicopter.


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