i ain’t florence nightingale

You’re wrong. I’m not a Florence Nightingale. Even while you were telling bits and pieces of her story I don’t know why you thought I am like her. (Ate M can pass off as someone like her but not me.) And now that I’ve read her story too, I’m aghast she should be compared with me who’s not even half or a third as brave as her. She must be ‘cringing in her grave’ when you unwittingly compared her to such a one as me.

Let me tell you why.

For one, she never thought of being in the spotlight while I have always wanted a top-notch career. I grew up with the standard of not settling for anything less than a white-collar job though I don’t exactly know why I had that notion ever since I was little. Florence chose a path that was disdained by society because only slow-headed ones and drunkards were seen fit to take such a role. I, on the other hand, have always craved to be respected as an expert in my chosen field, whatever it was to be. She wanted to help other people and make things better for them; I’ve only cared about succeeding and only bothered about protecting myself so as not to get hurt or experience as little discomfort as possible.  At seventeen, she already sensed a calling full of purpose; I don’t even want to recall the impertinence of my concerns when I was at that age.

Secondly, I marvel at her decision of declining a life with the man she loved, who loved her so much he waited seven years for her and who I think has a similar calling in life. I, on the other hand, have always been a hopeless romantic. And while I won’t throw myself to any man less than the one who meets my standards, I don’t think I would have the strength to say no to the one I know I love, who loves me as much or even more and who thinks we would be great partners-in-crime. That is, if ever such a person exists.

Yes, the conditions of the life of a married woman and the dynamics and expectations of society then and now are so different. But have I lived in her time and she in mine (i.e. I would face less or no freedom at all in pursuing a career and she could experience a married life where both husband and wife can actively practice a career/ministry/craft, etc.), I think we would still have decided as we would. She’d still say no and I still wouldn’t let go of the person who I want to spend the rest of my life with. Again, only if such a person does exist.

But yes, until now, I see this schmuckness I have over romance as a weakness. So it’s not like I’m comfortable being like this. And neither is expressing these opinions.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Florence Nightingale is brave, resolute, single-minded and strong-willed while I am a fainthearted, self-doubting, scaredy-cat, can’t-even-let-others-read-what-I-write-for-fear-I-might-be-found-lacking wannabe. She found her calling and fought every obstacle down so she can go ahead and just do it. I found my calling and I think I’m crazy for even thinking I’m called to it. I’m so scared I’m never going to make it, I have thought a lot of times dismissing the thing altogether even before starting.

She was right. She indeed found her calling and as a result, she saved thousands of lives, redeemed a previously shunned occupation, and pioneered a whole new era of medical/nursing care.

I may really be wrong. I may be a fake who’s just trying hard to fit into something that may not be for me after all. And lives may be ruined, a respectable job may be shunned, and a whole don’t-imitate, what-went-wrong story may be written if I continue to pursue this calling which I still can’t seem to fully claim as something I have been meant to do.

Tell me really, what made you think I am like Florence Nightingale? Aside from avoiding social events, preferring books over dresses and being geeky?

But anyway, thank you for mentioning her story to me.

Now, if only there’s a way to be a Florence Nightingale of writing, one who thinks nothing about self-glory, only of honoring the One who called her by accomplishing what He has prepared for her to do, I would gladly follow that path.


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