Lost: Sarah Babian


Sarah spent around six years of her young-adult life dreaming of being a nurse, believing she would be a nurse, and pursuing a nursing career. It wasn’t until her third year in nursing school when her internal world came crumbling down. She realized that her original path was not what was intended. As she made her transition, she was met with people’s well-meaning yet negative reactions which caused her to have to shift her mindset. People would say, “Oh, you’re going to be a struggling artist.” She would simply reply, “Oh, I’m not going to be a struggling artist- I was a struggling nurse.” This transition in life was quite difficult, but ironically, her “lost” would be what brought her to her new path- the right path- creating. And while everything is not roses, it is far better than what it would have been if she had become a nurse.


Have you ever experienced a time when you felt lost in your business or life?

I was in nursing school. I enjoyed what I was learning, but I thought it was too much to learn all at once. If you didn't understand something you didn't have enough time to go back and then get it. You would just have to move on, an dI'm a type A person where it comes to knowledge- I want to know it all. Because that makes me better at what I'm going to do and more confident in what I'm going to do. I think as more time went on, the less confident I was in my ability to be a nurse because I knew I was missing information and the teachers liked all the people who were getting 100's. I was like, well that does me no good. I used to be that person who would get over 100 on everything, but when the information is coming from 5 different classes all at once – it becomes too much.

My second semester of my freshman year, I realized I wasn't really sure. I only kind of liked it, but I wasn't sure if I would really love it. I was encouraged to keep going because if I went all the way, then once I got into the field, it might be different. When my sophomore year came around, I felt the same thing. It wasn't fun anymore. I wasn't loving what I was learning. I lost the ability to hang out with friends or even rest because I was constantly trying to keep up and study. I wasn't used to failing, either, even though I was getting A's and B's. They weren't A+'s, so it was something I wasn't used to. I continued- I did a missions trip to Africa, which is what I originally wanted to do, nursing missions. I realized it was too intense for my personality type. I had to change my mindset that I could still impact people's lives, but I wouldn't be serving them in the way of healing them physically. Bringing awareness to something can also impact rather than being hands on. Once I got to year three, it all crumbled. I couldn't do it anymore. I realized that I wasn't finding joy in the same things that I usually did. When I was with people, I was distracted and not as involved in conversations. I started to retreat into myself. I had a call with my parents and we all came to the agreement that I would step away.

How did you wrestle and how long did you wrestle with it?

You struggle a lot when you're going in the wrong direction, especially when you're going for what you're doing the rest of your life, but your frustration will bring about change. As uncomfortable as it is, at least you're going towards something.

I also wrestled with people's perception of me– it was a tough change. I had to learn how to not take that to heart and prove people wrong. I remember trying to think through how I was smart enough to get into the nurse program, get good grades (even though they weren't what I was used to), so couldn't I be smart enough to create my own career path? There were definitely tough instances to mentally process through – not feeling lost in my career anymore, but feeling lost in the way that people view you. It's really strange. Because if someone walks around telling people that you're a neurosurgeon, people's eyes light up. However, in a moment, when that same person says they're going to be an artists- you can see the difference. Which means you have to be confident in your new direction, or people are going to change your mind pretty quickly.

What helped you find yourself again? Was it stepping away or pressing on?

After finishing my classes, I moved back home and decided to take time to do things that were fun for me. I knew that I needed to take time to do something creative, with my hands, yet still think. I also knew that I needed to keep my family close because there's grief in transition, so you need to make sure you surround yourself with love. I ended up taking a ceramics class and weaving class. Through that, I had the idea that I wanted to learn more about photography because it had been a big part of my life, but I didn't want to take classes. I wanted something I could learn, but not invest that much money and it be a little less conventional. That's usually where I thrive- creative mindsets. I contacted photographers that used the camera that I wanted to use. I contacted Rylee Hitchner and she was willing to take me on as an assistant! I moved within the next month, lived with a friend, and worked with her for the next nine! I was happier. I had time, I was free, I was doing something fun, and I felt more like myself. I would say getting back into the creative field was what got me out of feeling lost in a lot of ways. Kind of God saying, “You're on a good path, but this isn't what I have for you.”

I always enjoyed photography from such a young age. My mom would let me carry around her camera, she would develop the pictures, and then I could see what she took. It's always been special for me and our family to have. So for people who actually knew me nursing-wise to photography, it made sense. It wasn't like I was going in a completely wrong direction.

What were some ways you challenged your mindset through this time? Or what hope did you cling to through this time?

I had a bit of grief over all of it- this career loss, but I didn't want to wallow in what could have been. I wanted to do things that made me happy, so I surrounded myself with things that were that, to get me to a place of healing mentally. I don't think I was completely fixed, but it definitely helped heal me and showed people that I wasn't just sitting around. I was at least trying to go in some direction. It took a lot for me to shift my mindset, but me thinking of being a photographer, wasn't far off from the direction I needed to go.

If you could travel back in time to share advice with yourself before this happened, what would it be?

I couldn't see it going in a different direction, because obviously that was how it was supposed to play out. But, I would have told myself to put less pressure on what everyone else had planned for my life and more so what God had planned for myself. What I was pursuing wasn't bad at all, but it wasn't right for me. That's hard to sort out when both things are good. I would also allow myself grace. I knew that I needed it, and if others gave it to me, then I could give myself it too. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Grace upon grace.” I wrote it all out and stuck it in my car to help remind me of it as well.



Headshot by Lindsay McCurley | Landscape Photograph by Sarah Babian