As a person who has traveled from Somalia to the United States, I have seen degrees of war and strife which few people can understand. Living through war and coping with its internal and external damage was one of the most difficult things which I have ever done, and indeed one of the most difficult things that I believe anyone could ever do. However, coping with these experiences was not the most difficult thing which I had to do. Rather, it was only after having escaped from war and having become a single parent that I realized that it was even harder to cope with the alienation stemming the fact that other people I knew had not shared these experiences. As I began to settle into my new home, it was almost impossible to relate to the people around me. Those from the US appeared to be so calm and safe, and there were very few people with whom I could speak to about my experiences.
I am someone who now prides themselves on their ability to sympathize with other people, and to understand what it means to suffer. At that time, however, I began to find it increasingly difficult to relate to those around me; especially when I found that people simply did not register what it meant to have been through a war. I would tell new friends about my experiences, and it would seem as if their eyes had glazed over, and the words which I used had no meaning for them. Overtime, I came to realize that this was not because they did not care about me, but simply because they had never experienced anything close to what I had been through. To them, war was simply words and nothing else.
The overcome this alienation, I needed to use my own resilience, as well as my own personal and emotional intelligence. As time passed, I began to understand more and more clearly that the capacity to care for someone is not dependent on being able to understand precisely what someone has been through or being able to feel exactly what they are feeling. Rather, I began to see that caring for someone was actually predicated on not feeling as if one can share in someone’s pain, but being to provide comfort and solidarity nonetheless. In this sense, I no longer expected the impossible from friends, and I also began to be able to move past my alienation and develop important and meaningful relationships. It was at this time that I decided that my future lay in nursing; a realization which I now understand to be directly related to my new experiences of friendship and to my coming to terms with my experiences.
I believe that my experience of overcoming my own personal alienation will enable me to be a better and more effective nurse. Not only has the experience shown me the importance of dedication and self-discipline, but it has also meant that I have greatly improved my emotional intelligence and my ability to relate to others from all walks of life. For me, one of the most important aspects of the recent development of the nursing profession is its increasing emphasis on providing culturally competent care. This aspect of nursing places a heavy emphasis on paying attention to peoples’ particular cultures, while also making sure that individuals are able to receive the care and medical attention which they need in order to achieve good health. As in immigrant, I feel as if this feature of nursing relates directly to my experience, and to the humility which overcoming alienation has given me. As such, I feel that it is in area in which I will especially excel.
In short, not only have my experiences of war and alienation increased my ability to cope with trauma in my own life, but they have also enabled me to understand what it means to care for someone without thinking that one can fully understand what they have lived through. I feel confident that I will be able to combine both of these in a successful and enriching nursing career.