18 days before I start university on February 11. It's a little scary to think about now. The idea of making such a huge change - of becoming a student again at 28, voluntarily being unemployed for at least the next six months, if not the next three to four years (A bachelors degree in Australia takes three years, however there is the option of completing a fourth honours year) and chosing to live with my parents again to save on rent and accommodation costs while studying (I should get a small payment from the governemtn as a student, so at least there is something coming in).
It's interesting how differently I am treating my studies this time around, compared with when I was younger. I got my timetable as early as possible and tired to work out a few days off during the week that would allow me to pick up some work if I am finding it too hard to manage financially and to allow for study, assignment writing and research. I've been paying off all my bills in an attempt to start my studies as debt free as possible (although the studies themselves will incur a debt) and have been putting aside some of my pay for months to help cover study costs - including books and uniforms (uniforms are a requirement of the clinical classes).
Last time I was studying I turned up on the first day unaware of what my timetable would be. I would skip classes, and avoid buying books if I could. I was employed on and off, and at times I was employed fulltime - which while it might sound responsible often lead to ignoring my studies and completing assignments at the last second. I was lucky to fluke my way through some classes, but there were others that I had to repeat or sit supplimentary assessments for. And it's not something I want to find myself doing again.
This time around I feel like I'm in a better place to achieve good results with my studies. I have a direction and a goal to achieve that is much clearer than it has been with other studies. Even before making a final decision to study nursing I had decided that I was going to make a career change and that I didn't want to continuing working in administration for the rest of my life. I had also made the decision that if I was going to undertake any study to affect a career change it was going to be study that had a clear career outcome and would have good employment prospects. It also had to be something that I had an interest in and that I was able to find both personal and professional satisifaction from.
So, just what was it that made me decide to study nursing?
Part of me wants to say it was the office cat - which is true in part, if a little odd. One of the offices I was employed at in the last couple of years had a resident cat (who I'll call Mr Kitty, to protect the identity of my former workplace and Mr Kitty), a cat who had a hard life prior to being adopted by the office. Mr Kitty had survived terrible abuse as well as cancer, and although he was spoilt by all of those in the office, he was often sick. Prior to working in the office with Mr Kitty I was phobic of vomit, however after cleaning vomit off folders and my desk and being amused by seeing Mr Kitty vomit over a folder waiting to be collected by a staff member that didn't like him my phobia lessened.
At the same time as sharing an office with Mr Kitty I was fostering animals that were in need of some extra help, sick or pregnant which I loved.
I also studied science in the past both at high school and university and had adored the subjects relating to health and had even thought about undertaking a public health degree, which for various reasons I didn't.
And while I loved caring for animals, I still had an interest in human health and disease. And that interest only seems to increase the longer I am vegan. I also came to realise that as a child and a teenager I would never have considered a career in nursing because of the association with nurses being female - and to me going into an industry that was so predominantly female was against what I believed in then... I might have been a girl, but damned if I was going to act like my extended families ideal of one!
And while I knew that there were male nurses, I saw them in a similar way to how I saw female plumbers and builders - people chosing a career that wasn't traditionally associated with their gender as a way of fighting gender bias - something I saw myself as doing when I got older.
I'll always believe that an individual should be able to choose any career regardless of their gender, but I have come to realise that an individual shouldn't feel a need to not choose a career just because it's one traditionally associated with their gender.
And when it comes down to it, I want a career where I feel like I am doing something to benefit society, that I am helping human and/or non-humans. Where I can continue to learn and gain new and different experiences. And while it sounds less noble or more selfish than the previous points I want a career where I can feel secure in my employment and know I am going to earn a living wage. And of all the careers I considered when I decided that I was going to make a change nursing was the one that seemed to fulfil what I was seeking better than any other.
So here I am 18 days away from going back to university, from studying nursing and making a total career change. And I'm excited about making a change that I've wanted and needed to make for some time and I'm scared because it means leaving my comfort zone and taking a risk.