And you hate it. You fucking hate it. Your life is a misery; you dread punching in. You lose sleep over having to return to work this weekend (because you've got the crap shifts). You obsess over how miserable you are, but you don't feel like you can quit.
Because of money. Because you've invested all this time. Because the loan guarantors are coming after you for payments, and it hasn't even been a year yet. Because you'll disappoint your family and your friends. And, most of all, because leaving a field that is widely seen as a Fulfilling, Sacred Calling That Only A Few People Are Suited For carries a huge stigma.
It's okay to hate nursing.
It's okay to do something else with your life.
Sometimes *I* hate nursing, and I do it and think about it and blog about it and get quoted in books about it and sometimes lecture about it for pay and for free. The key, though, is that I only hate it sometimes. Most of the time, I'm as happy as a baby elephant in a kiddie pool. As messy as this job might be, it keeps me coming back, because it does something for me that nothing else does.
If you hate it all the time, it's time for a change.
I got a BA with a double major in music and sociology. I had no idea what I would do with it; write protest songs, maybe? I hated studying music. Hated it. I have a fair-to-middling voice with no real ability to act or interpret what I'm singing, and I barely scraped through on piano class because I hated screwing up so badly, I could barely practice. It cost my parents tens of thousands of dollars and untold worry to finance my degree, and I ended up doing everything from working in a bookstore to doing voiceovers and voice-mail mazes until that fateful day that I walked into a Planned Parenthood, asked for a job, and discovered what I'm really good at.
And you know what?
My folks, and my husband-at-the time, were baffled by my decision to go to nursing school. Not a one of them could figure it out. Not a one of them understood what it was that got me so het up over nursing, though they could appreciate that I was het up. My father finally said to me one day, "Johanne, I've figured out why you like nursing. You're the only one who was ever good at math."
The point of all this is, she says, taking another swig of Hardcore IPA (quite nice, by the by, if you like a fresh-hopped, dry, strong beer) is that you don't owe it to anybody to stay in a field you hate. Presumably you've done enough of it by now to understand what it is about it that makes you unhappy, and what it is about nursing that's a bad fit.
Eventually, the people who love you will realize that you're happier being a bank teller or a firefighter or an airline attendant, and everything will be fine.
I'll miss you. I'll throw you a huge party when you leave to go to firefighter school, and we'll keep in touch--and I'll be really proud that you decided to do what makes you happy.
Because, at the end of the day, you cannot compromise your own happiness for a paycheck (or to save face). You have to do what it is that you know in your gut will send you to work every day without feelings of dread and horror.
It's okay to hate nursing. Nurse Jo hereby gives you absolution, a blessing, and the help-wanted section of the local paper.