Yves Brown McClain: Literary Fierceness

Posts Tagged ‘books’

Never Settle

Posted by Dahlia on February 8, 2011

Two years ago this month, I made my re-entry into school. I had gone for a skills test for a job that was in the same office park as the school, which specialized in allied health training. On my way out, I figured I would just stop in and get some information. Two days later, I had enrolled in the evening program for medical assisting. I didn’t see this as being another detour on my writing journey at the time, but as an opportunity to get into a growing and secure field. I had endured a few job losses and felt the need to reinvent myself. I successfully completed the program the following March, on my birthday to be exact. However, since I finished my externship after January graduation, I participated in the summer ceremony in June. By the time I formally “walked”, the school had added an associate’s program. Their associate’s program wasn’t even accredited yet, so that was one turn off. I didn’t want to pursue any degrees where my credits can’t transfer to another college or university. Also, I didn’t think the program they were offering was a good fit for my plans at the time, as I wanted to get into a nursing program. I enrolled in the school I’m attending now because their nursing program is very good. My bachelor’s is in Business, and therefore, I needed a few science courses (I seriously doubted the planetary science course I took sophomore year would count) before I could even apply for the program. It’s also very competitive – there was no skating into their program.

However, my former school’s objective is to sell the school, so I got numerous voicemails from the recruiting area selling me on the associate’s program. I ignored them all. That is, until I got a message from one of the “big dogs” at the school. Thinking this was a meaningful call (maybe they owed me some money?) I called back. Turns out, it was just an elevated sales pitch. They were even waiving tuition for recent graduates. I turned him down and explained that I was getting ready to take my nursing prerequisites. His response?

“You know, there’s no guarantee you’ll get in, right?”

Needless to say, I was more than a little hot. However, I always keep it professional and I let him know I was aware that getting in was not a guarantee but it was what I wanted. He ends the conversation, almost cocky, like he knew I’d be calling back asking to get into their program.

I couldn’t believe he had the audacity to respond to my wanting to go to nursing school in that manner. His attitude was one of “you might as well take this, because the chances of your being a nurse are slim to none.” Let me back up here. The school I went to isn’t exactly known for accepting students based on their potential to do well in the medical field. If you walked in, you got accepted, no application or test necessary. So, needless to say, this school was a revolving door of students who either lacked the focus, drive, aptitude, attitude, support system, or just had too much personal drama going on to make it through a training program.

I wondered just how many students he’d discouraged. Was he so desperate to meet his quota that he would destroy the dreams of people who wanted to be more than what the school trained them in? He clearly hadn’t checked my credentials before talking to me. I already have a degree, I aced every single class at that school, and was afforded a highly coveted externship spot in a hospital’s emergency room, where my other classmates did their entire externship in nursing homes (which I want to add, is not an easy job. I have the utmost respect for CNAs because they do so much work for so little pay. However, the hospital spot allowed one to use more of their training in phlebotomy, EKGs, lab skills, etc.) If anybody had the potential to go and kick major butt in a nursing program, it was me. I didn’t put all that in there to be boastful, but to state that he was wrong to assume that I was the rule. He should’ve addressed me and everyone else he spoke with like we were the exception. That if we really wanted to go on to become nurses, paramedics, physician assistants, or even doctors or dentists, we could do it. “Our school gave you the foundation to build on, so go for it!” should have been his response, not to just “take what you can get and come on back because we’re the only ones that’ll take you.” For that sir, you can kick rocks. With open-toe shoes.

And what does the above story have to do with writing? It boils down to this: Never settle. If writing that novel, memoir, self-help, relationship, business book is what you want to do, do not settle. Don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done. Being an author is something that doesn’t always make sense to others. Often because you’re working on something that doesn’t produce income right away. Some will look at it like it’s just a hobby and not take your craft seriously. Encourage yourself if you have to. Join a writer’s group. Take a creative writing class. In my email signature is a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” In this writing game and in life, that’s exactly what you’ve got to do. So, I’ll say it again: Never settle.

Am I a medical assistant now? Nope. Am I in the nursing program? Negatory. I soon discovered that my time at the allied health school was a detour, and while I have much respect for nurses, it wasn’t what I desired to do. I didn’t want to get into another program, get a degree in it, and still be unfulfilled. It wasn’t my passion. If I’m going to get a second degree in anything, it’s going to be in something I love. It also prepared me for the grind I’m on now, with balancing a full-time job, family, and getting published. That’s the thing about detours, they take you off course for a while, but you always come back to the road you’re supposed to be on.

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