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Alexis Nacman: I have a confession to make. I don’t necessarily have a “structured plan” for my future. I know, I know. It’s surprising right? I look put together. Like someone who MUST have everything planned out to the minute. Well, I don’t. But before you assume that I’m taking the “see where life takes me, go with the flow” route. I have a plan, it just might not be what you have in mind. But I’m getting way too ahead of myself, so let me start with my introduction.
My name is Alexis Nacman and I’m from Washington, D.C. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Rehabilitation Science from George Mason University. This degree is the stepping stone to becoming a Physical Therapist.
But here’s the thing. I’m not really sure if becoming a PT is what I want to do anymore. How did I get here? Well, it started with a visit to my grandma’s house. During my first semester of college, I went home to Virginia Beach for a family get-together. My grandma or my “Mama” is what I call her, was relaxing and eating dinner with us when suddenly her leg froze up. I sat there watching her, frantically wondering what to do. I could hear my mama scream and cry. I wanted to cry too because I couldn’t do anything.
After seeing how concerned I reacted, my mother suggested I look into studying physical therapy. Plus, my dad always encouraged me to be a doctor so I was like, “Okay, this could be me. I’d be helping people like my mama and I’d make my parents proud! Why not?” Honesty hour: Up until this point, I had followed the path I thought I was expected to. I went to college because it’s the next step after high school, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to go to college for. All I knew is that I HAD to go and I HAD to decide on a major by my first year, or else I’d waste money on tuition and be a failure. No pressure right? So, of course, I prayed for my future plans constantly,
But here’s the thing, as much as this worried me on the inside, I never let anyone, not even my parents, know that I didn’t have it all figured out yet. I tell myself, “Fake it til you make it!” I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. So when my mom suggested physical therapy, I figured this was the direction God wanted for me. I was going to get into PT school!
But I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Science classes were never my thing. I remember in high school I had to take chemistry, I was frantic. My grade just kept going down, I’d call my older sister on the phone all upset saying, “Ate, (*sobs*) no matter how hard I try, I just don’t get it. I don’t know what to do anymore. So believe me when I say, I was absolutely thrilled to be sitting in my first physics class in college. College physics lectures were so fast-paced. My game plan was to listen as much as I could and then study and review the material and figure it out on my own time. But the professor would just fly through the slides before I could even take in anything she would say. So when I’d sit down and read the slides on my own I had no idea what I was doing.
That didn’t work too well for me. I even tried study groups, tutoring, and office hours, but I was still hopeless. It was like high school chemistry class all over again, but worse. This time, instead of crying on the phone to my older sister, I was crying all alone in my dorm room. Overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, I did what any overachiever does, I compared myself to the others in the class, the successful ones in the class. What did they do or have that I didn’t? Was it because they had all the time in the world to study?
Those were the moments when I found myself thinking, “Is this career even for me?” If I can’t even make it through undergrad, how am I going to make it through actual PT school? I was really hard on myself. I’d question my worth and my capability to be successful. Those questions would then spiral into negative thoughts that would make me feel depressed. There’d be mornings I’d wake up in my dorm room, staring at the ceiling, no motivation, no desire to get out of bed. I had contemplated dropping the class all together. Is this really worth the struggle?
But you know what? When I think back on it now, my biggest fear wasn’t the class, it was being seen as a failure. I wanted to make my family proud. I wanted to be a good example to my younger siblings. I wanted them to look at me and be inspired to work hard on their own future, you know typical older sibling stuff. It wasn’t these thoughts alone that would cloud my mind during such low moments though. I was also overwhelmed with learning how to live alone, far away from my family for the first time. And when you move away from home for the first time, you end up spending a lot of time in your mind and you start to feel vulnerable, it can be a lot. But I now know that those are the moments where I learn the most. Spoiler alert: these lessons weren’t in the classroom.
Lesson #1: It’s okay for things not to go my way. The world isn’t going to end because life didn’t match up to my expectations. The semester I took physics, I ended with a C-. I was disappointed, however, I was relieved that it was over, even if it meant that I had to retake the class and graduate in five years instead of four years. It wasn’t what I planned but It wasn’t the end of the world. Okay…
Lesson #2. God has a plan for His people and it’s always better than what we pictured. We just have to trust God completely. What really kept me going through these struggles were the worship services. It was like God would talk to me directly at each worship service. I clung to those lessons that spoke of God’s plan for His people; that everything that happens happens because He knows what’s best for us. I was thankful to receive these reminders in the worship services and during our CBI or Christian Brotherhood International meetings.
Okay, now learning these lessons didn’t stop me from having a few more rough semesters. But after realizing that my opportunities for success didn’t end because of one grade, one class, one more year in school, I found myself responding to situations differently. I experienced what it meant to trust God completely. I didn’t question myself anymore. Instead, I’d find a moment of silence and ask God for his help and guidance- remembering that these negative thoughts and feelings are temporary.
Also in case, you’re wondering. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in four and a half years, made my parents proud, and I have a job that I love. So remember what I said before about this career not really something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life? I still feel that way. But these days, my plan is simple: continue to gain knowledge, work hard, and place my complete trust in God no matter what.
Sure I still get sad sometimes but I no longer feel like my worth depends on my career choice or how “successful” I appear to others. I am successful because I trust God with my plans. My prayers these days are also now very specific. I tell God explicitly all the things that go through my mind. I tell him all the things I worry about, all the things I’m insecure about, and more. My heart, my mind, my entire being have been blessed for this. But my life isn’t picture perfect. Whose is? But I find peace through my faith in God.
So for all of you who find yourselves putting extra pressure on yourself to “succeed.” (I SEE YOU OUT THERE) The best thing I could tell you is to just never give up trying your best and know you’re not alone. God is right there ready to guide your plans and will never fail you. Thank you.
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