The Mic Drop File
Each person's life is a combination of all of the different aspects of their personality. I visualize it like a pie-shaped game piece from Trivial Pursuit - pink for your passion, yellow for your dedication, orange for your family, blue for that weird part of you that secretly (or not so secretly) loves watching "murder porn" on television. Keep in mind, though, that this game piece is designed to keep the different slices of the pie separated. Because for many of us, those different parts of our lives don't usually overlap.
For example, my family isn't likely to join me at a work function because they won't know anyone and would likely have no interest in the topics of conversation. My theatre friends would probably be bored out of their minds at my family Christmas dinner, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because there are far too many Republicans in attendance, and the number of topics that we spend three hours tiptoeing around grows every year. Not that I don't love my family, but you might not.
I've also found the different areas of my own life affect me differently. For example, when I am on the stage, whether in rehearsal or in performance, I am a totally different person. I know what I'm doing, and I know I'm good at it. I don't question myself (not too much anyway). I try not to be too much of a diva, but let's just say that if you are in a scene with me, you'd better bring your A game, or I will theoretically wipe the stage with you.
Not so much in my life as a nurse. I mean, let's be honest, when you're on stage, if you drop a line, it doesn't break a hip. It doesn't have to be documented and reported to the state as an incident report that will require a root cause analysis and a plan of correction so that no lines are dropped in the future. If you hit a wrong note, your lung doesn't collapse.
I have been a nurse for almost 27 years, and I question my abilities every single day. Not only as a nurse, but as an employee, as a manager, as a human being dealing with other human beings who may be going through the worst thing ever to happen in their lives. Lately in particular, the latter has been testing my outermost limits of patience, professionalism, and politeness.
It's very easy to become overwhelmed with a lack of confidence in your job, so much so that you begin to wonder if you should have picked another career entirely. And maybe you should, before everyone figures out the big secret......YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE DOING. But trust me, you really do. It's called Imposter Syndrome, and I'd been dealing with it for years before I ever knew there was a name for it. Imagine you're in one of those hotel ads, and as you calmly and adeptly insert a chest tube into the guy in front of you in line at the complimentary breakfast buffet, someone asks you if you're a doctor, and you respond, "No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night." I feel this sense of being perceived as a big faker. (Well, lemme tell ya something. I've never faked it. You either get it right or you don't.) One day you might be the only one who can get an IV in that dehydrated patient, and the next you couldn't hit a vein if it had a bullseye on it, but THAT'S the day that sticks with you, and you feel like a complete failure.
So yesterday, I created a new folder at work. Not on the computer, but an actual folder that I can hold in my hand. I labeled it "Mic Drops". I had just sent out a lengthy email to our aides addressing a few issues that are becoming widespread and the law needed to be laid down. I wanted to make sure, though, that I laid it down in a way that 1) didn't cause any aides to quit, because we are short staffed as it is, and 2) that let them know how appreciated they all were despite the topic of the email. I put a lot of time and thought into it before I sent it. A few minutes later, I get an email from my boss that reads "Mic drop. Perfect." I smiled. It felt good. I printed out that email and put it in the file. Hopefully that email won't sit in that folder by itself, cold and alone. I hope that I'll have more things to add to it - notes, cards, more emails - so that when I'm having a rough day, questioning myself, my actions, my decisions, I can pull out this folder and read through (and relive) the moments where I made the right call, calmed down a patient or family member in a way that made them feel heard and validated, or received a message from an employee thanking me for going the extra mile for them.
Your file can be called whatever you want it to be. "Kudos". "Yay Me". "Those Times I Didn't Fuck Up". It doesn't matter, just make one. Put it in a place that isn't in plain sight for everyone else but is staring YOU in the face, reminding you that there are plenty of times when you proved your worth. That you really do know what you're doing, even if you're not perfect. If you do things simply because they're the right thing to do, your file will be overflowing.
Now that I've written this, though, I think I'd like to go back and change the name of my file.