Reminder From My Preschool Graduate

My daughter graduated from preschool last week. During her graduation ceremony, she wore a cap and cape. Instead of the traditional cap and gown, she and her classmates wore capes displaying their chosen super-power. My daughter’s chosen super-power: “I CAN DO HARD THINGS.” The next day, she started her summer camp at a different school. Her best friend from preschool is not attending the same summer program, nor will she follow my daughter to kindergarten. I was probably more emotional about my daughter moving into a different environment after two years with the same preschool teachers and classmates. Despite the mixed feelings I had, my daughter had a seamless transition. She was sad to leave her best friend and other classmates but genuinely happy and excited to be in a new space and meet new friends. My daughter shed no tears about the transition (unlike me). I agree; my daughter can do hard things.

My daughter is a big reason I push myself and powered through to pursue nursing as a second career. I wanted her to know it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and that it’s okay to struggle. When she is frustrated at not doing things perfectly or independently immediately, I remind her that she can do hard things. I allow her to work a bit and put forth the effort to try things on her own. I don’t swoop in to save her or fix things right away.

A recent example of this is when my daughter tried opening a package. She wanted me to open a snack pack for her, but I said she could do it. She then tried once and asked me to open it. Again, I said she could do it. She tried again and became frustrated that she couldn’t do it. I talked her through how she could try holding it a particular way to make it easier to open. She still struggled. I began to wonder if she had enough grip strength. I still cheered her on. She eventually opened the package herself. She was proud of herself. So was I.

Sometimes things take hard work and practice before we become good at something. As a new grad nurse, I identify with this. I do not feel confident or even competent some nights. I thank God that I still have a preceptor. However, it won’t be long before I’m on my own. I know I’m capable, but I doubt my ability to do things all on time or wonder how I’d handle a demanding patient-load independently.

I understand it can take a year or two before some new grads begin to feel confident or secure in their competence. I am anxious about cutting the cord, having my assignments, and nursing solo. But I know I can do hard things. I have done hard things and can continue to do hard things.

Growth and development come from discomfort and pushing our limits. Getting better at something won’t come from doing what feels easy. Like my daughter, I’m going through a transition. I’m in a new environment with new people and doing unfamiliar things (compared to when I was an engineer with 18+ years of experience in the same company and people who knew me).

Sometimes, I have to remind myself what I teach my daughter. It might be good for me not to have a preceptor to “save” me next month, just as I don’t keep my daughter from a bit of struggle. I know it won’t be without hard work, but hopefully, I can be proud of myself as an independent nurse. Maybe you’re like me and need the reminder, too: “YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!”

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