It’s been over two months since my last blog post, and to be completely honest, up until a week ago, I wasn’t really in a space where I felt comfortable to share, nor was I inspired to write. The last few months have been filled with just a slew of emotions, with some days better than others. The last time I experienced such overwhelming feelings of anxiety was back in 2015 after my heart had just been broken at the end of a tumultuous 5 year relationship (read more The Phoenix, here). Only this time, it wasn’t a broken heart.
There have been two pretty stable pillars in my life thus far: education and career. I have always been ‘good at school’, partly thanks to my photographic memory, and of course, partly to my hard work and dedication. My discipline and drive have always landed me in favourable situations. I was a scholarship recipient for both my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, and most recently, for my Master’s Degree in Healthcare Policy, Innovation, and Management; and I’ve graduated with honours as Cum Laude for both degrees. As such, my career has always been “somewhat stable” as well. Nursing is pretty straightforward in the sense that the type of steps you need to take in order to kick-start your professional career is somewhat linear. You apply for nursing school (usually straight out of high school), graduate after four years, write and hopefully pass your board exams, apply for specific nursing jobs at the institution or organization you wish to work at (in my case, they were hospitals), submit your cover letter and resume, usually get a phone call from the hiring manager themselves, have one interview, and a few weeks later, find out whether or not you got the job. However, please take note that I don’t mean to generalize this for everyone, or for all nurses around the world. I’m fully aware that it’s not always as easy or as straightforward as it seems (in fact, nursing is not an easy job at all!) and that processes and procedures differ. This is simply my own experience with the trajectory of my personal nursing career, and I hold so much gratitude for the last ten years (nursing school included), in which I was able to serve at the bedside whilst working at some well renowned healthcare institutions.
In 2017, as previously mentioned, I decided to leave bedside nursing in pursuit of higher education abroad. This was not a decision borne out of dissatisfaction with my nursing career, but rather out of the deep calling inside telling me that now was the time for me to explore, adventure, and take risks. For those that follow my blog, you’ll know that coming to Europe was a dream I was working towards for two years. However, leaving behind nursing was not easy whatsoever. I absolutely loved my job and the people I worked with. But still, I needed to follow my gut, and my gut was telling me to move to Europe. And so, I took a leave of absence from my job in Toronto in 2017, filled with so much uncertainty as to what my future would look like. But as it turned out, moving to Europe ended up being one of the best decisions I had ever made for myself. In the past year, I’ve experienced so much, learned incredible amounts about myself, all whilst building deep and loving relationships.
In May 2018, however, I was faced with another decision after receiving an email from my managers asking about my return. At this point, I was still undecided about whether or not I wanted to return to Canada, go back to my nursing job at the bedside, while of course looking for other opportunities now that I had a Master’s Degree OR if I wanted to take yet another risk, and pursue a career in The Netherlands. Thus, I asked for more time to make a decision. As such, the next two months (June & July) were filled with obsessive thoughts about my career. Was it time for me to leave the bedside “more permanently” now? What about stability? What about income? How long will it take me to find a job in The Netherlands? Can I find a job in The Netherlands, especially since I don’t speak the language? How easy will it be? What about my friends? What about my family? What about my pension in Canada? Where do I eventually want to retire? etc. etc. etc. As one can see, my mind was literally racing every single day with thoughts about the future, which in hindsight, I know is completely normal but are also just thoughts, and not what is actually happening in reality.
If there was one thing I learned through this process, it’s that you DON’T necessarily need to have everything and your whole future planned and figured out. In fact, life can change in an instant, so as much as you can plan and map out your future, you literally don’t know what sort of experiences life will throw at you. And so, with that being said, all you can do is be in the present, muster up some courage, and ask yourself “What is the next right move?”
In the words of Oprah Winfrey,
“There are no wrong paths. There are none. There is no such thing as failure really, cause failure is just that thing trying to move you into the right direction. Because you gain just as much from your losses as you do from your victories cause the losses are there to wake you up. So when you understand that, you don’t allow yourself to be completely thrown off by a circumstance.
Because your life is bigger than any one experience. And so the way through the challenge is to get STILL, and ask yourself “What is your next right move?” Not think about alllll of this. And from that space, ask yourself again, what is the next right move and the next right move? And not to be overwhelmed by it because you know your life is bigger than that one moment”
Now this does not imply by any means at all that I felt I was in a space of “failure”. But the reason I share this quote with you is because I knew that no matter what path I decided to take, neither decision would be the “wrong decision”, and all I needed to do was decide what was the next right move for me. So after many many many meditation sits, conversations with my friends & family, sessions with my journal, weighing out pros and cons, and a final breakdown in tears with my mother in a hotel room in downtown Cebu, I decided to say goodbye to my nursing career (for now) and pursue a career in The Netherlands. In what exactly, you might ask? Well that was also part of the problem.
In the beginning of September, I began my search more diligently for a job here in The Netherlands. I had already been rejected by a few jobs as I had somewhat began my search in May, when I was toying with the idea of moving to Europe “more permanently”. The first job rejection really hit me hard, as this was something I was not used to if I’m going to be completely honest; and was one of the reasons why I became so hesitant to continue to pursue a different career path in a totally different country, on a totally different continent. As previously described, nursing has always been a straightforward process for me, whereas now I was entering the “corporate world” where I was literally competing against hundreds, and perhaps thousands of applicants from around the world, and having to go through multiple rounds and assessment testing. Definitely not something I was accustomed to! I wasn’t even sure what sort of jobs I could apply to as I did not speak Dutch, and would also require a work visa sponsorship in the future. I would spend hours upon hours on LinkedIn or on recruitment company websites. I would come across jobs on LinkedIn and not even remember if I had applied for that job, and thus decided to make an excel spreadsheet to make matters easier for me. By the first week of October, my job application count was at 66 jobs with more than half of those rejected, and others with no answer. To give you even more context, out of 66 jobs, I successfully got through the first round (which is basically just a CV check by the recruiters), for only 6 positions. That’s 1 job for out of every 11 jobs applied.
To give you even more context as to how uprooted my life was, I was also living with so much uncertainty as to where I would end up in The Netherlands, and thus bought absolutely no furniture for my room. I was sleeping on two mattresses on the floor, given to me by a friend of mine, and was using my suitcase as a sort of “shelf” for a few of my things. Don’t get me wrong, I still remained in so much gratitude for food on my table and a roof over my head. But nonetheless, life at this time was not the most “comfortable” for me.
Job application count at 66
Unfurnished room, and sleeping on the floor…
With all this to say, however, I actually hold so much gratitude for the past two months as I have been able to really dig deep and journey inwards at a more intimate and profound level. Because of the amount of “free time” that I had, I invested all of that into managing my emotions, and getting STILL. I meditated almost every single day for at least 45 minutes, I prayed and journaled, and just overall, used the time to really invest in myself. And what I learned THE most was just to TRUST. To trust this journey, and to trust the decisions I had made for myself. Even though I was going through a tough time, I was STILL living my dream. My dream of being here in Europe, and even having the opportunity and the possibility of pursing a career in The Netherlands is already a blessing in and of itself. When times got really bad, I would just look at old photos of myself from 2015, or even read back on journal entries from that time in my life, to remind myself of how far I have gotten.
Life is a series of unfolding, and it never really ends. Such is the beauty of the human experience. It’s never about “having arrived” at the destination, but the journey, and the learning that takes place in between those moments of both “failure” and “victory”. There is something unique, mighty and magnificent within each of us, and it is our job to let that unfold from within us. Our purpose then becomes wherever we are unfolding in that given moment. We grow where we are planted, and then we can ask ourselves, “What is trying to emerge?” and “What is trying to unfold?” Every morning, I wake up and ask myself now, “Life, what will you have me learn today?”
Life has been so kind to me, regardless, but I think it is also a matter of the perspective and lens through which I view the world. There is so much goodness within us, and so much goodness everywhere. My heart is just filled with so much gratitude, truly. This week, I’m actually going to start my new job as a Clinical Safety Specialist at Medtronic, one of the world’s leading innovative companies in medical devices (and the inventor of the pacemaker!) The universe literally had me in tears of gratitude the day I received the phone call, and I will continue to manifest gratitude again and again and again. This was the next right move for me, and even though I don’t know what this means in terms of the future, I’m okay with that, and I’m just trusting each decision I make for now because I never know where life will take me.
Life is always speaking to us through our experiences and I know for sure that the past two months were a gift. In the grand scheme of things, I know that two months is not really that long of a time to be “unemployed” but still, that doesn’t take away from the anxiety and the fear, especially when you’re doing it in unfamiliar territory away from your family.
So whatever it is you are going through, just know that my heart is with you. Just TRUST the journey. Everything is unfolding as it should be.
You don’t need to have it all figured it out, I sure as hell don’t.
All you need to do is ask yourself, “What is the next right move?”
From my heart to yours,
– The Phoenix
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