Why do we insist on hanging onto things that don’t serve us?
This could apply to a relationship, be it intimate, familial or a friendship, a job, a grudge, anger, guilt. In my case, it was a little PIN number.
As you might be aware, in a past life, before becoming a yoga instructor, I worked as a nurse. I’ll not bore you with the intricacies of maintaining a nursing registration, but in a nut shell: you pay a fee and every three years you prove that you’ve met some requirements, and repeat.
I chose to maintain my registration, even though I wasn’t practicing. Even though I had no desire to return to a practice that I knew would be all too familiar and easy to slip back into. But, we’ve all gotta eat, right? So I hung onto it, just in case. I expected to jump through any necessary hoops later this year, and planned to finally let it go in 2022.
A recent email from the Nursing and Midwifery Council asking me to complete a survey about why I’d left the profession scuppered those plans. Turns out I’d gotten my dates wrong, I’d missed the deadline to provide the evidence and I was no longer on the register, and hadn’t been for several months.
I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say that my heart skipped an actual beat as I read that email. I wasn’t a registered nurse anymore.
I didn’t want to nurse, I hadn’t actually practiced in well over a year, so why did this bother me so deeply?
I thrashed this out with not just one person, oh no, but with many many people. Do I revalidate now and get the plan back on track, finally weaning myself from the register in 2021?
At a cost of £120 a year (although this has a tendency to creep up), in that time I would voluntarily pay at least four hundred and eighty of your Great British Pounds to maintain my registration for a profession that I had long since left behind.
Eventually common sense prevailed and I decided against throwing my hard earned cash away, and waved goodbye to my registration, with a lump in my throat and a slightly heavy heart.
Why such difficulty? I didn’t want to nurse. The hours are long and unsociable, the pay is generally accepted as insufficient for the responsibility, the things you see and the things you do, and it feels like the press bash you at every opportunity. My final nursing role, although better hours, brought me immense stress and unhappiness. For the first time in my life I experienced anxiety and borderline panic attacks, and on my last day I ran from that hospital as fast as my little legs could carry me (the promise of a cool glass of fizz awaiting me in the pub probably sped me up a tad).
I analysed this at length. Why was I hanging onto it? Why wouldn’t I let my registration go?
The truth is that my identity was, to me, inextricably linked to my profession. I’ve always been career focused, exceptionally proud of being a nurse and of my achievements within the profession. When you tell someone you’re a nurse it’s easy to swell with pride as they tell you what a fabulous job that is and how they couldn’t do it.
But that’s the ego, isn’t it? And the ego isn’t in a position to make career choices for us.
It also invites assumptions about your character. ‘Ah, she’s a nurse; she must be kind, caring, have a strong stomach…’
Hopefully I am these things. But if I am, then does a new career change these qualities?
No. I’m just as lovely now as I always was. Because I’m just as Sacha now as I always was. So my identity is not intertwined with my job, and less so with a scrap of paper.
‘Nurse’ is not my identity any more than an unhealthy relationship, a grudge or an emotion is someone else’s. We might have the grudge, the emotion or the toxic relationship, but we are not the grudge, the emotion nor the toxic relationship.
So, if it’s not me, I’m still me without it, and the essence of me is able to flourish and bloom without the negativity that weighed on my mind when I held on to the thing that no longer served me.
If something isn’t serving us; if it is, in fact, draining us, then we need to LET. IT. GO.