“You are exhausted all the time and stretched too thin. Why would you choose a career that is mentally and physically draining when you already have a degree and other options?”
When I was writing my speech for my college graduation, I struggled with figuring out how to say what I wanted to say, but not have it come across as contrite, immature, and thoughtless. My entire speech was, in its basest form, a giant middle finger to everyone who spent 5 years asking me what having a degree in English would do for my future. I knew, as did my classmates, that we could do everything with this degree. We could become scientists, doctors, astronauts, politicians, teachers, journalists and so on.
Our degree taught us something that seemed to lack in other degree programs, the ability to read. Now I understand that most people know how to physically read a word; you are doing so at this moment. But when I mean by read is the ability to not only see and analyze the words put before us, but also read what wasn’t being said, what needed to be said, and then take those concepts and apply them to other works that may or may not share similarities, only to then to agree or refute our own perspectives and present them back to the original text.
Ask any person with a degree in English about what it is like for he or she to go to a movie and read the movie instead of simply watching the movie.
I speak of this because my speech wasn’t just about how we could do anything and nothing with our degree, but about how our degree isn’t our ending point. Having earned our degree in English set us all in front of thousands of different paths, all different, all interconnected, and gave us the tools to navigate our way. We learned how to succeed and fail in our pursuit of this degree, that way we would know what it would mean to succeed and fail in our futures, and we learned to do it with quick wits and dead-pan humor.
So to the friend who asked me why I am going into paramedicine, I apologize that I do not have some altruistic motive. My first taste of the EMS world came on a friend’s couch, talking to a stranger about lost hopes and dreams, and a suggestion that I might like being an EMT. As all things I do, I joined the course last-minute, half-hearted and simply looking forward to learning something new. This wandering on a new path lead to me falling in love with emergency medicine. If I was to ever pursue being a nurse, it would be in emergency medicine (although I currently have absolutely no desire to even glance down that path let alone wander towards its entrance.)
And then I moved, and spent the first 2 1/2 years in my new home without ever really touching my new skill set. When the opportunity to wander the path of EMS again arose I jumped at it. I love being an EMT; although, it does have some moments when I question my sanity. After passing my EMT program I was told I could be a decent paramedic and I jumped at the opportunity.
A part of me has a fire to learn more, because of what happened to my adoptive father. Another part is simply doing this because it is the next step on the path. Yet, another part of me is doing this because learning something new just appeals to me.
I could quite easily find a job or so that lets me live comfortably, and allows me time with family and friends. It is what I did for 2 1/2 years before I rejoined the EMS world. But I have a degree in English, and complacency gets you a smack to the back of the head and threats with pink crayons. My degree represents a person who jumps from subject to subject with ease, analyzes and researches, and presents back to the world differing ideas and pushes others to maintain a dialogue above “what do you wanna do today?”
So why paramedicine? Because this is the path my feet stumbled upon. It isn’t easy. I just got a small chewing on the other day for careless mistakes that I know I am above and it is because I became complacent, and I know better than that. Phantom pains on the back of my skull are the fading reminder of being told to stop being stupid. But I love this life.
Once upon a time I would not be able to say those simple words. But now, I do. I love this life because it is hard, and draining, and exhausting. It reminds me of track practices and heavy workouts, and the beautiful ache I felt in my muscles. Paramedicine is a beautiful ache and I am made for it. I’m going to make mistakes, and learn, and keep moving forward. I’m going to fall asleep standing up, forget what a hot meal tastes like, and I will perfect the art of sleeping on a couch too small for me and that is all okay.
I’ve done this before. I have a degree in English studies. Might not be related to life and death, but then again, maybe it does.
Either way, it is what is it is. Can you say the same about your own path?