You know the type of summer that gets depicted in anime? Real summer – the sort that leaves the sweltering streets all but deserted, save for the sounds of cicadas chirping. The kind of summer that spurs people to spend their afternoons indoors in front of a boxed fan – a brief respite from the humidity outside and an excuse to serve ice cream because it will taste that much sweeter. For many around the world, such is the face of summer.
Idyllic memories of summer are often depicted in anime because of their significance to youth and school life; to the working adult, summer is just another season in the year. To the daydreaming student, summer beckons as a time of play – a time of zero obligations while school, the dominant force in their lives, pauses until the next season. Right now, with it being the middle of July in this quiet Texas suburb, we are amidst such a summer. For me however, it comes to an end tomorrow.
Tomorrow I will begin my career – something that I have been journeying towards all this time. Tomorrow, I join the ranks of caregivers to work as a Surgical ICU nurse in the largest medical center in the world. A literal dream job and a spectacular finish to my student life.
I’ve noticed that I act a little strangely when it comes to transitioning from one phase of my life to another, and I think that it stems from my childhood of moving from place to place, year after year. As a child, I was intrigued by the blank slate I was presented with every time I would move; my past would be left behind and I would have an opportunity to be a new person amidst my brand-new surroundings. As this pattern became routine, I got better at introspecting and mentally sorting out what I was grateful to leave behind and what kind of mask I should wear going forward.
This habit was completely subconscious, mind – I only just got reminded of it because I caught myself starting to do the same thing as of late. See, this is how “Nightmaren” was born. Though I had gone through my share of online handles throughout middle school and high school, it was only when I was poised to leave for college that I discarded all previous names to adopt the name “Nightmaren” as a universal screen name. Doing so had its advantages – indiscriminately changing all of my account names to a new name enabled me to shake off contacts that I no longer wanted to associate with and let me to craft a new persona with unique personality traits. Perhaps that’s what I subconsciously had in mind then when, a few days ago, I found myself contemplating such a change once again. No reason why. To me, it just felt like it was time.
I went through the motions and decided on a name. I put a lot of time into it actually; I considered the various ways it could be shortened and the manner in which it could be split into “first” and “last” names if needed. I did all this only to pause and exit out of my internet browser.
For some reason, I felt torn and I questioned my habit of slamming doors shut between the different chapters of my past. Completely discarding the “Nightmaren” identity… it didn’t sit well with me. I mean… I should know better than anyone what a gradual, flowing series of events my journey up to this point has been, so why should I delimit it in such a manner? “Nightmaren” had grown and evolved over the years – would retiring it be a step backwards?
Even so, I still felt an overwhelming desire to change identities and adopt the new handle. I went back and forth many times as the name became ever more familiar in my head. In fact, I even stopped in the middle of writing this post to start registering a new email account when, of all times, Morgan gave me a phone call that lasted about an hour, effectively derailing any thoughts of changing my online name.
And well, that’s really it, isn’t it? In real life, despite no longer being a nursing student, my life has been irrevocably shaped by my time as one; there are remnants all around me. I suppose the online world is no different, which is why the thought of no longer being “Nightmaren” just feels somewhat… lacking to me. Discarding this mask and donning an entirely new one would be a disservice to myself.
Ruminations aside, if anything, my subconscious urges highlight what a significant transition this is for me. I am immensely proud to begin my new career in a place that is second to none in the world. Amidst such a renowned epicenter of health care, research, and scholarship however, the simple irony is that one simply cannot work in such a place and not be a student. The reality is that I will be a student here forever as I flit in and out of hospitals, research conferences, and professional organizations – so are things really that different from before?
One need only look towards my belongings to see just how familiar a life I am about to begin. Though I discarded my old backpack, I have replaced it with another – a sleek little bag with a discreet gray texture that looks better suited for a businessman rather than a college student. Yet, it is still a backpack. Like many other nurses, I will be using it as a convenient way to carry my belongings both on the unit and during the institutional classroom time required throughout our licensure.
I understand now that there is no sense in arbitrarily partitioning off one’s life into distinct phases. Everything comes together one way or another. Summer will continue, and as my cumulative experiences shape my path forward, facets of my past will no doubt find opportunities to shine in the sunlight.