Just a CNA?




Edison Terrell

I‘m not “just a CNA,” but I’m not so bothered by people saying that’s what I am. Other people are taking snapshot judgments of my entire life stories and personality based on a glimpse when they say I’m only an aide, and I do that to them, too. It seems like an evolutionary device to tell potential friends from foes, and as we got more sophisticated, a way to determine someone’s value to you, or lack thereof. It’s deeply ingrained in the mind, passed on and perfected by thousands of generations of reinforcement. Something like this won’t go away by arguing with it. That’s literally the opposite but equal side of the thing. On one side is “You’re ‘just’ a CNA,” on the other is “I’m MORE than just a CNA, I do blah blah blah.” I’m not saying I don’t agree with either stance, but we’re just banging hammers here. You’re fighting one mindset with its equal, an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.

I don’t know what the answer is, but it isn’t this. I honestly think it’s just to let people hate and not to give in. That’s a pill I haven’t swallowed, I’ll totally admit it. One of the reasons I’m going back for a degree is because on some level I believe that “Just a CNA” bullshit. And that’s OK, too, if you have that same thing going on. It’s just your mind. Mind is like a water glass with dirt at the bottom, and this stuff, arguing the merits of what we do, is stirring up the glass, clouding the water. There’s no taking the dirt out, though, it’ll always be there. You just have to notice when your mind get shaken like a paint mixer and understand what comes up is just a reflection of your shook up mind.

That’s a lot easier said than done, of course. I’m still working on this after almost ten years, and I’ll probably wrestle with it for the rest of my life to some degree, but I’ve found it to be the only thing that may provide some relief. I did a lot of soul-searching before I entered healthcare, fell into Zen, and I think some of the lessons like this one might be helpful for everybody, regardless of the path you’re on. The alternative from what I can see is diving hip deep in the fray, getting pushed around by forces you have no control over, people you don’t know judging you, a person they don’t know, and taking swings at everything that moves. What good will that do any of us? No—what good does that do you? Let’s not make this a global issue. Tell me when doing that has benefited you? When have you jumped into an argument like that and walked away not feeling unclean? I want to meet that person. You might feel like you one-upped somebody because you got in a few good remarks that left them sputtering or pissed off, but you still feel ugly and gross walking away, if not ashamed or mad yourself. Is that worth it?

And I know, believe me, the alternative to that sucks, too, just as bad. That guy called you worthless, but you’re supposed to not snap back at them. It becomes a question of whether you’d rather feel dirty and angry or just angry, and have to examine that anger, the stuff that arises with it, and let it come to rest while the other guy is smugly nodding in the corner like he got you. It takes everything not to verbally crank him across the jaw. After a while it starts looking like the only good option, though, even if it’s not the most palatable one.

Let the haters hate. It’s what they do. Just drop both sides, or try to anyway. Cuz otherwise it’s like thinking you can remove a bullet wound by shooting yourself again. That’s my opinion, anyway. I could be totally wrong, I’ll admit that too. 

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