Fighting for happiness
Mixed martial arts and nursing might seem to be worlds apart, but for Sarah Wilson (Post-LPN BN student), pursuing these dual passions is proving equally important in finding her best path in life — and in finding confidence, happiness and fulfillment throughout her journey
I began my journeys into MMA (mixed martial arts) and nursing at the same time.
I found myself on a course in life that I hadn’t mindfully chosen and no longer wished to continue. After too many years of choosing the path of least resistance, I had funneled myself farther away from my potential, and into the stagnant fog of mediocrity. I felt there was untapped talent and passion inside me, but did not know how to find an outlet to translate that into a useable skill to further my life. I was willing to start making big changes but couldn’t seem to find a career that lined up with the will to sacrifice for it. The enormous commitment of time and money to school is daunting with the uncertain job market today.
So I switched my focus off career goals to what made me happy outside of work.
I loved to travel, and had always had a desire to live a life that positively impacted others. With that in mind, nursing soon became an obvious choice, specifically to work internationally with underprivileged populations who have limited access to healthcare. In planning for my future, it felt like I would need to be proficient in self defense to be able to confidently enter what may be unsafe conditions for a woman.
And so the journey into martial arts began.
I moved to B.C. from Ontario to complete my Licensed Practical Nurse diploma. I also started training, first in muay thai and kickboxing, and eventually transitioning into jiu-jitsu and wrestling as well. I finished school and entered the work force as a surgical nurse. No longer a student and with extra time on my hands, my martial arts hobby bloomed into a consuming passion.
“Through nursing, I have tapped into depths of love and compassion I didn’t know I possessed…. Competing has taught me that … no matter how hard things can be … there is always something that can be done to advance the position ….”– Sarah Wilson
Through one extracurricular activity, I was able to stay in shape, learn to protect myself and meet friends. I began competing, first locally, then nationally, and then internationally with overall successful results.
The losses fuelled a desire to perform better in all areas of my life. I wanted to eat better, exercise more, save more.
I still had plans to finish my RN, but, nearing my 30s, it was hard to think of giving up fighting for a few more years in the classroom. Athabasca University offered a great opportunity to work at my pace towards my degree while still pursuing my dreams of fighting. Nursing isn’t an easy job — and, unfortunately, my knowledge of self defense has become a useful tool multiple times in the face of aggressive situations encountered at work.
I have never regretted any of my choices.
Through nursing, I have tapped into depths of love and compassion I didn’t know I possessed. I have critically solved problems to improve people’s lives, and by doing so have improved my own. Through fighting, I gained a community. I have found self confidence in my physical strength and my abilities.
Competing has taught me that what I feel in the moment — whether pain, defeat or humiliation — are all exclusive to that moment. The next day, your life continues the same as it always was. I’ve learned that no matter how hard things can be, how horrible the situation, there is always something that can be done to advance the position and situation. These lessons have infiltrated all areas of my life.
I accept that a dash towards the finish line is unrealistic. The goals of joy and fulfillment are only found in the day-to-day progress of the journey.
My career goals haven’t changed; they are just a little further away. The destination still lies in the dreams of international service I began with, but has grown to include wanting to teach young women to fight and to show them the confidence that is hiding underneath fear.
I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and finding purpose. However, now, on the days I fall to that pressure, the bottom is a lot closer — because there is a strong foundation under my feet.
I have formed and continue to form an identity for myself that will continually allow me victories — on the mats, at work and in life.