I understand what you are saying. I am a new grad -- though I haven't started working as an RN yet, I mostly dread the thought of beginning this career. Often during clinicals I would question my reasons for entering this field, and wonder how I ended up choosing such a physically and emotionally demanding job in search of my "life's fulfillment". How do wiping butts and cleaning pools of bodily fluids, doing endless paperwork and documentation, taking an endless barrage of verbal beatings from dissatisfied MDs or patients or family members, working with gossipy and cut-throat "eat-their-young-type" co-workers, risking endless possible side-effects or complications from your own nursing interventions (catching them in time, being responsible for them), missing breaks and feeling ever-present fatigue (never having enough time to eat lunch), and constant feelings of inadequacy create "fulfilling" work?? And all of this for crappy pay and no respect? Was I CRAZY to go into nursing? Why not engineering, medicine, or veterinary science?
I have a friend who graduated last year. She was one of those people who always wanted to be an OB nurse -- she idolized the nursing profession, and wanted to "make a difference" in women's healthcare. Well, reality struck in her first job -- she would hide in the unit's bathroom several days a week during orientation and cry! She loathed her preceptor, and found the unit to have an impersonal, fast-paced, cynical culture -- it was in stark contrast to her ideals: compassionate/sensitive care, where nurses had time to nurture the mother-infant bond by providing lots of teaching and emotional support. There was never enough time to do nursing the right way, and documentation was especially stressful b/c of the constant threat of lawsuits in OB. Anyway, it was a major crisis for her -- she hated nursing and regretted her decision to enter the field.
Another classmate was also disillusioned with her first job -- she told me that she discovered that nursing theory is pure b---sh--, for in reality a nurse is "nothing more than a slightly better paid waitress". It's just blue-collar grunt work, nothing more.
So I haven't heard a lot of positive things from my classmates.
My mother, on the other hand, is a very experienced nurse. She remembers how difficult the first year was, and told me to just try to stick with it no matter what. Her advice is to at least put in that first year. The reason it feels so difficult is because IT IS! New nurses have all the responsibility of more experienced RNs, yet sometimes we lack the knowledge and experience needed to solve basic problems. We have poor time-management skills, don't know how to prioritize, have only clinical experiences to draw upon, and an overwhelming & constant number of problems that need to be solved quickly... the first year is a huge challenge. It is REALITY SHOCK.
However, it is necessary to stick with it! The reason that I dread beginning, I realize now after reading your post & responding to it, is because I'M SCARED OF FAILURE. However, that's not a good reason to avoid this challenge, or quit before it has even really begun. You know this is true: that even if you feel incompetent and clumsy while learning through trial and error, you will eventually build your skills and knowledge base. It is a huge challenge for you, but it's important to give it all you've got and go through the motions. Nothing good or of value comes easily. In the end, you can take your year of experience and try something else -- become a research nurse (coordinating study trials, for example --the only patient contact involved are interviews/histories), work in a small clinic, or be one of those nurses who does triage by phone.
After a year of floor experience, you can go anywhere. For personal and professional reasons you should stick with it. Who knows -- after a year, like my mother, you may begin to get into the flow, increase your competence, and grow to love it! She has been a floor nurse in a hospital for over 33 years -- she didn't love it at first, but grew into the role. She strongly feels that nursing becomes more meaningful as a profession as time goes on -- as you get older, as you develop excellent bedside skills and realize that you know how to do your job well. As you realize that you really are making a tremendous difference in other people's lives -- then it becomes deeply fulfilling.