This is me. Do I look like a bitch to you? Well, I’ve been called one a few times. I currently don’t feel beautiful or smart, I don’t have it all together and I am pissed/sad/lonely/over it. There is no makeup and no cover-up. This post isn’t evidence based or feverously edited. I have spent a lot of time contemplating over the last couple months – have I let my lifestyle turn me into a quintessential bitch? ICU nurse are bitches. Women who stand up for themselves or their patients are deemed bitches. I have actually stopped and thought – am I an awful, heartless, selfish, bitch? Should I just remain passive in my career and educational endeavors because that’s what ladies should do? Do I set my opinions and my voice aside to spare feelings? No, I don’t because that could cost a life, a human life, in my game.

Would a man be called a bitch for speaking up? Do I even publish this post? It might scare off a future husband or followers. People might assume the profession has gotten to me and that I’m going to transpire into one of those old, bitter, nurses who lives at home with her cats. Or even worse, I might be called everyone’s favorite adjective – “emotional.” Am I too emotional if I have a bad day or drop a few “fucks?” Would a male, physician be told to clean up his language? Do I take all of the “fucks” out of my vocabulary because it makes me “too masculine,” “inconsiderate,” or because “it’s bad for the profession?’ I can’t and I won’t, because that’s not me, and I give too many fucks about my patients and their families.

I have been so nice… too nice, and I am absolutely spent. I mull over all of my words before I speak and filter them to the point where I can actually visualize them coming out of my mouth and affecting others. I hate to be “this woman,” but right now, I am, and I hate that I even have to hate it. I want to be validated, I want my efforts to be recognized, I want to graduate, I want to provide the best care for my patients, I want my talents to be used to their full extent, and I want to be allowed to love this career to infinite capacity. I’m tired of the sugar coating, the red-tape, the fluff, and the coddling of egos. I want people to allow me, to be me – a motivated, caring, intelligent, insightful, detail-oriented, almost doctorally prepared nurse.

I wonder if people will question what triggered this post? I had over 200 comments when I posted it on Instagram. One man didn’t know why it had anything to do with gender. One mentioned that I clearly had too much wine and another posed that I was probably on my period ­– to answer, neither of those aspects were relevant and of course, I never would have asked them the same. Unexpectedly, several male nurses sent me extremely encouraging emails. As much as I would like to explain further, I do not think I need to. I am fairly certain, even if my fellow nurses have not experienced the exact same situation, they will be able to identify, even if only theoretically.

So, just for a moment, I am going to sit and feel it all – the disappointment, inequality, raw vulnerability, and the fact that sometimes no matter how hard I try, it will never be enough and I will never please everyone. I’m going to contemplate quitting and tell myself it would be easier to be quiet and submit. Then, I will wake up tomorrow, I will wear my smile, and I will proudly be that bitch – the one I would request to care for my family members. And I will do it for the sake of my patients, my career, my degree, my calling, and this life for which I am ever so thankful.