When I graduated school, besides getting my degrees I also got a shell.
Like an invisible full body suit/raincoat/second skin, this form fitting shell sits around me about 2-3 inches out. It is invisible and cannot be felt by others, but I assure you it is there.
The shell is me, my professional self, my greater self, yet to be filled, yet to be defined.
And therein lays the challenge- the shell... the role, is already there but I am still getting used to it, very aware of the open spaces around me that are the gaps in my knowledge. I need to fill it. I am filling it, but there is so much to know.
It can only be filled and defined while being worn. It is impossible to do it any other way. There is a built in struggle with this design. I want to be in this role, I want to wear it and make it my own, but the shape of it still feels so strange around me.
There are days that I fight against it, trying to work around it, almost afraid of it. There are days that I am acutely and painfully aware of the space floating around between me and the shell, reminding me of how much I don't know yet. There are days that I try to force it to fit and the associated growing pains are exhausting. There are days that I forget I am wearing it, or wish I wasn't, and revert to my previous roles because I know them and they feel safe. These are not productive days.
But then there are the days that I feel (even for just a moment) that the shell fits a little better, that there is a little less space filled with the unknown. It might be just enough to fill the space around my pinky or the tip of my nose, but that flicker of knowledge, ownership and confidence is completely inspiring and motivating.
My professional self growth will continue and stem from experience, as will my confidence. I will define and fill this new role of nurse practitioner for myself. No one else can do that for me, I know.
But it will also continue to be hard and humbling in the meantime and above all will require a great amount of patience, especially around accepting that mistakes will be inevitable and built in opportunities to learn.
It will perhaps also a glass of wine or two on occasion.