Hi all. Maybe this thread would best fit under some life-coaching or psychotherapy category, or something of that nature, but I could really use some advice and I'm not sure where else to go. I was raised in California and earned my first BS degree there, but went to my fatherland in Indonesia to take up nursing. After 4 years, I'd graduate from a BSN program, take the local boards, and obtain an Indonesian license. I do not intend to use this license locally, and the only reason I took the board exam was because I heard many states in the US are requiring this in order for me to sit in for the NCLEX.
I'm at a point where I need to decide which state to pursue practice. I'd prefer to return to CA, but I hear the BON there is quite strict with foreign graduates and that maybe I'd have a better chance in NY. I am a US citizen and so getting myself in the US is no problem. So this is one big question about which I need discerning. Any thoughts or advice? I am not tied down to CA, as I do not have a home there anymore, so any state is possible, though it'd be nice if I knew someone there to begin with.
That aside, perhaps my most pressing dilemma is this: I'm 32 years old, and have zero work experience. The thought of having to explain this to my prospective employers is absolutely daunting. My family wonders. My friends wonder. Those recruiters and interviewers would definitely wonder why, too. Because the fact is that I graduated at the top of my high school, at the top of my graduating class of the UC program of my first bachelors degree, as well as at the top of my nursing program in the Indonesia.
But the truth is that my being "book-smart" has been somewhat of a compensation for my general lack of confidence, ever since childhood. I remember growing up to be a painfully shy child. I was also morbidly obese. And I was (and still am) a closeted gay person.
My shyness was pretty bad all throughout my grammar school years. I had my small group of closer friends, but I'd always shy away from gatherings or parties where I might have to meet strangers. The thought of trying a summer job or any extracurriculars was terrifying, so I never did. Around my high school years I'd diagnose myself with social anxiety disorder. I'd get this confirmed by a psychiatrist who'd prescribe me celexa, which I took for only about a month before I stopped seeing her all together. I'd do my own self-medicating with self-help books and herbal remedies after that, but I guess nothing ever really worked. I'd just force myself to endure new situations and meeting new people as best I could. Sometimes it went well, other times it didn't. But the shyness has always prevented me from going up to the really "important" people, like potential interviewers, or to chat with authority figures just to schmooze and network.
I suppose my shyness was also due in part to the fact that I was morbidly obese and gay. Being a "sissy" big guy was always something I felt insecure about. In any case, after earning my first degree, I'd fix the "obese" part over 2 years with diet and exercise. Having shed nearly 130lb, I'm at my ideal body weight now and have kept that off for nearly 7 years. I am a physically fit person and this is one of the few accomplishments I am genuinely proud of.
Now about the closeted gay part. Somehow this has always inhibited the full expression of my personality, which contributes to my scarcity of close friends. It's not that I'd be "flamboyant" or obviously gay otherwise (or that I see anything wrong with this), but I feel that being closeted prevents me from really being myself around acquaintances to allow for a possible close friendship. It makes me feel insecure to have to hide this. But I am a part of a closeted gay relationship with my first and only boyfriend, now of nearly 4 years, and this is something I am also very proud of, but someday we'd both like to just be free to express our affection publicly. It's very hard to do that right now for a myriad of reasons, and if it were easier for us to come out of the closet, we definitely would.
Well...back to HS and college. I did well cus I did nothing but study. My social life sucked and I was too afraid to try internships or summer jobs. 4 years would elapse between graduation from UC and entry into my BSN program in the Indonesia. In that time I'd focus on weight loss, take up nursing prerequisite classes part time in various community colleges, and help my mother take care of my physically ill father, who had cancer. I would accompany him on doctor's appointments, drive him to and from a dialysis center, and prepare his meals. He eventually passed away which is why I traveled back to Indonesia, to bury him. For what it's worth, I had also earned CNA certification in those 4 years as a prerequisite for an entry level masters in nursing program in CA. But I was denied admission.
So I took up nursing in Indonesia. I managed to do well considering the slight language barrier, as I never really learned my native tongue too well since I moved to the US at an early age. On a positive note though, I think I do well with patients for the most part. It's the initial greetings and getting-to-know-you bit, especially with their families and friends, that I tend to struggle with. But somehow, the fact that I have some defined therapeutic relationship with them takes a little bit of the edge off from the "performance" aspect I most fear in nonprofessional, social relationships. In fact, I've surprised myself that I can establish really good rapport with patients sometimes, and part of the reason I've done so well in nursing school is because I can think outside of the box and be quite creative in my approach to establish that rapport. I've composed a list of the out-of-the ordinary measures in case I can cite them for prospective employers. In spite of my shyness, I know in my heart of hearts that I am a compassionate guy and can become a really effective nurse someday. I just need to get my foot in the door, tough out the initial jitters, and continue to learn to hone my cognitive and motor skills. I know my heart and attitude are in the right place.
In any case, the only reason I mention any of that is because I wonder if it any of it will matter in terms of explaining my lack of an employment history considering my age, or whether I should even broach them to my prospective employer in the first place. What do you guys think? I'd really appreciate any feedback. This has gotten to be a really lengthy post and there's so much more to say but I better end it here. Thanks so much for reading and for your support.