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Fellowshipping: Month 12 (El Fin)

San Jose, CA, USA

If this year and my time in fellowship was a movie, I guess this post/chapter/episode would be appropriately followed with "El Fin" (aka the end, in English). As I sit here back in San Jose typing this post quarantined in my little guest room surrounded by unpacked boxes from my move from Sacramento just the day before, this last chapter marks the end of what was known and the start into my adventure into the unknown ahead. 

Muddled is perhaps the "right" word to describe this month. 

I spent the month mostly back in the outpatient spine clinic with shifts helping out on the inpatient floors. 

Going back to the spine clinic felt like being reacquainted with an old friend, one I haven't seen since June/July of this year. It was pleasantly surprising that I haven't forgotten too much, at least not the basics. I guess you could say it felt like I picked up from where I left off. There were certainly times where I was still lost, as I call it. I mean, things have changed even in my short-ish time away from this setting/clinic. But it was nice and comforting being back to see familiar faces and spaces, sad to hear of some who have left, and exciting to see what the new has brought and would bring. 

I made the most of the opportunity to be back revisiting the spine clinic, I think. I was no stellar all-star by any means, for it isn't in my nature to stand out or curry favor, but rather to just do my thing and be myself. 

In a way, my time back was made muddled by the complicated mix of feelings -- that of being caught between continuing to pursue what I want (or maybe rather, what I think I want) and what there is right now at this time, and that of knowing the end of this seemingly long dream is nearing as each day passes. 

Now, on this last official day, the dream has ended, and I'm left to face the unknown that I have been dreading more and more as each job application ends at that stage or each job interview leads to the all-too-familiar email that begins with "Dear Nicole, Thank you, Unfortunately..." And really, this all makes me ponder if continuing forward in pursuit of my "dream" job is worth it, since it may come with more formal schooling ahead; if I should just wait and see what opportunities are available when/if the job market improves; or if I should give up, settle, and be complacent with what there is if there even is anything. 

The problem doesn't lie in not knowing what I want, but more so in knowing exactly what I want and facing the challenges of unavailability because of what is going on in the world (ie. COVID) and wondering if the chase, the additional time, effort, money, schooling to get to that point would truly lead me to where I want to be. Or, would I be disappointed to learn that there is yet another certification or formal education program that I would have to undergo yet again? I know working in healthcare entails the virtue of being a lifelong learner, but when will the necessity of formal education end so that the journey of real world learning and practice can begin? Perhaps these latter feelings would be allayed had I landed a job since it would give me a guarantee that my efforts and time would not be for naught. 

So I spent the month muddled amongst all of these thoughts and feelings. It was a most bittersweet month. My little fellowship graduation celebration planned by my co-workers was greatly received COVID friendly style, of course, and I am the utmost grateful for the lessons, teachings, and pearls I've gained throughout the year. Like the NP who took me under her wing while redeployed, each member of this team has been a "light" on this journey. I still feel both sad for myself not having the opportunity to continue, yet excited for the new fellow who will be working with some of the most supportive colleagues on their new graduate nurse practitioner journey.  

And now, I'm back in San Jose typing up this post while listening to some of my favorite Asian drama OSTs (original soundtracks) and quarantining.

It may seem abrupt and untimely, this move back to San Jose with my in-laws, but it's the logical next step at least given what I know. Rent payment and expenses continue regardless of whether or not I have a job. Not having a job would mean that my husband and I would be pulling from our savings, which we were hoping to save for emergencies or our future first home whenever, wherever it is I land that "dream" job. Is sitting around while expenses keep flooding in for possibly the next few months with not knowing when I would get a job the "right" thing to do? My husband and I discussed this topic for a while, and I think we came to a consensus that it would be wiser for us to move back, at least until we see where I land my next job. 

In a heart-to-heart conversation with my husband, I think it's kind of true when he told me he saw people in a forum he follows post that for most people, it's like 2020 never existed, like it's a wasted year. 

Having moved back here to San Jose, sitting here job hunting on the daily, hoping to find "the one" (in terms of a job) has made me unable to help but think that maybe what he said is true. Logically speaking, we can't discount all the bad and ugly that 2020 has brought -- the lives taken, opportunities lost, and the dreams and plans shattered. But 2020 did happen, and it brought along, with all its challenges, many lessons that have and will change the way we approach life hereafter, or so we all hope at least. 

In a way, I understand what those people on the forums are saying. I feel like I'm back to where I was after graduating and passing FNP boards. I'm here again, on the job hunt, except in a tighter market, except with additional fellowship training. This year, all in all, has felt like a very long and fleeting dream. 

If you haven't gotten the hints or message yet, I still don't know what's next for me. Right now, I'm just figuring things out day by day and week by week. I still have a vision for where I want to be in so many domains and aspects of my life, but I'm learning to enjoy the moments along the way. And really, I think it will all be okay in the end. 

 See you in a few hours as we begin 2021 (on the west coast)!

Nicole G.

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