Life is a journey. Of course, you’ve probably heard this statement before. It’s a cliché, but that’s exactly what I’ve been telling myself the very moment I set my mind on my career path. I wasn’t really bothered about my destination, but I was preoccupied with the dilemma of having so many options that have come my way. Most people would agree that experience alters the traveler but as a traveler, the ideas of WYA helped me navigate the career path I want to set foot in. I’m a nursing student and in school, we are taught the importance of protecting one’s life and promoting dignity–something I understood deeper through WYA a few years after that first day in college.
Back then as a newbie nursing student, I couldn’t yet understand what promoting life and dignity meant. I had several what-ifs, but then I realized that those what-ifs prevented me from really knowing my purpose. Attending the ELC, taking the CTP, representing WYA at different conferences lightened up the dark places in my journey as a nursing student. I started to see a clearer road ahead of me. I can no longer separate Nnedi as a nurse and Nnedi as a WYA member, because those two complement each other perfectly. I am now able to care and carry out my duty as a student nurse because I understand that we need to engage with others on the level of encounter, not experience– another concept I learned while reading Martin Buber’s I and Thou.
A friend told me that I might have regrets because it’s impossible for me to pursue a career in nursing and promote dignity at the same time. But it’s actually very possible! In fact, being a nursing student and a dignity defender allowed me to learn more about who the human person is and how we can practice freedom for excellence in our day to day life. But on several occasions, this feeling of powerlessness and wanting to quit would overwhelm me into thinking that this would just lead me nowhere. But then again, I’m always proven wrong. I started incorporating the values I learned in the CTP in my nursing experiences and from there, I stopped seeing my struggle as an experience only of a solo traveler who is only living for herself. I then understood that my purpose was to care for others, to be a better person for myself and for others– and that is how I incorporate freedom for excellence in my life. Viktor Frankl and Nelson Mandela were both presented with difficult circumstances, but they never allowed the “easy way out” to alter the choices that bring them to their whys. They did it, and I believe I can too.
Empathy and compassion, two values needed in nursing care, also led me to appreciate subject to subject relationship. I suddenly sprang out from my gloomy state to being a woman who’s taking things one step at a time. I now continue to volunteer for other organizations because I now fully understand my why. I am now more motivated to understand the realities of others and I continue to find myself promoting the dignity of every person in every step I take. Satyagraha taught me that it’s possible to transform people with love and I’m empowered to join others in their journey to build a better society– the kind where all human beings thrive and flourish.
My journey hasn’t ended yet, and there are still several uncertainties I have yet to face. One thing is for sure though: I have already decided to continue this journey regardless of what the end looks like because now that I understand my why, I am more able to bear with any hows.
Published: June 22, 2020
Written by Nnedimma Aghanya, WYAAP intern alumna