The ladder to nowhere

What is it that defines success to you?  I'm well aware that I have a very different view on this topic than many people, and lately have been judged accordingly.  I hate being judged, don't you?  I mean, seriously.  What do you care what I do or don't do?  When it really comes down to it, why does anyone care.  I live from a very live-and-let-live stance.  Unless it directly affects my life negatively, I don't really care what you choose to do in your life.  God bless you and good luck at it.  Most people don't feel that way though and they look down their pious noses at other people all the time.

I used to be in management.  I didn't know this at the time, but I've come to learn since, that nursing management is much different than management in other fields.  Everyone thinks their own job is stressful, but I really do believe that being in nursing management is even more stressful than most fields.  Also, it's different for nursing in that management doesn't necessarily mean huge pay jumps and way more perks and benefits.  No, usually you make close to the same amount of money and shit runs uphill.  Because I've been a nurse for so long, I'm usually closer to the top of the pay scale already and so when I took my management position before, know what kind of a raise I got?  A dollar.  That's right, a whole dollar.  For more stress, less boundaries, needing to be available 24 hour a day sometimes.  A dollar.  Somehow, eventually I figured out that didn't make things quite worth it for me and I went back to a "regular" position.

For me, I felt enlightened, freed, unburdened when I left that position.  Some other people, even if not always blaringly obvious, judged me for that move.  I had figured out that for me, my life, my time, my personal space is WAY more valuable to me than being able to puff my chest out and say, "I'm in management!"  Much of the world doesn't feel that way.  There's a different way that people look at you when you are higher up the ladder, as if you are more valuable as a person or something.  The thing is, I'm plenty intelligent.  I'm also a good leader.  I'm organized, a good critical thinker and a good delegator.  I function calmly and smoothly under life-threatening and stressful situations. I am actually very effective in leadership positions.  And get this.... my staff usually likes me, which is HUGE.  I operate with humility, compassion and kindness and humor.  Servant leadership, that's what it's about for me, and that's rare in this world.  The problem is that people around me in leadership don't always operate the same way and the peer pressure to be more of a cut-throat bitch is strong.  I don't operate that way and it's toxic to be around people that do and expect you to.

So, I checked out.

Recently, an opportunity to move back up the ladder came my way.  Other people I spoke to about it were so excited for me and really encouraged me to do it, but I just looked at them like they had three heads!  I'm here in the office avoiding all conversation about it and if it came up, I acted like the kid in class that didn't want called on who avoided eye contact, whistling and looking all around the room.  Did I want to put my foot back on the ladder rung?  Hell to the NO!  Am I capable?  Absolutely.  But at what cost?  It's just not worth it to me. 

Well, let me tell you.  I got seriously judged for this decision by certain people in my life.  They look at me like I'm weak, or a wimp or a coward for not taking it and I feel like I couldn't be more misunderstood.  I think I simply have WAY different views on what success in life means.  To me, success doesn't mean that I work 60 or 70 hours per week, am stressed, bring work home with me, or am in meetings every day.  To me, success is more about having the time to be home with my family, to breathe and read my Bible in the mornings, to be creative and communicate with friends and family.  That is success to me.  There is so much left in me that needs to come out... writing, books, smiles, hugs, love, laughter.  I feel like when I'm super-stressed about work that all gets stifled.  I would rather be lower on the ladder and make mediocre money than to miss out on all of that.  Maybe I'll feel differently at another time in life, but right now I just don't. 

My kids are growing up!  I mean really!  Two of them are gone.  As I watch close friends of mine have brand new, shiny, tiny babies for the first time, it makes me so melancholy because I now know from experience how fleeting that time is.  Sometimes I think about what I would do if I had a few wishes at my disposal.  My heart sometimes aches with the desire to go back in time, knowing what I know now, to hold my babies.  To try and do it better and do it right and make sure they know how loved they are and to protect them at all costs.  But I can't.  All I can do is be there to love the babies I have left at home... and they're almost gone.  My brain hurts with the thought of them being gone too.  The other day, I snuggled Emma and said, "Please don't turn into an ugly teenager that hates me!"  She replied, "Mommy, I could never hate you, I just love you too much!"  Oh how I wish that were true!  I wish I could keep her little forever.  But knowing that I can't, I'm not willing to waste a moment more than I have to being away from her.  That's not my priority right now.  Life is about more than having your name on a plaque on the door or having a window in your office.  I have way more than that at home... way more.

lurve you, xoxo v.


Barbara said…
Good for you! You have to live the life you have to live and not make decisions based on what others think you should be doing. Only you know what is right for you and yours.

Love you lots, Mom
Allison said…
I couldn't agree with you more!!! Good for you!!!