I used to train operating room (OR) nurses who were fresh out of their internship.

I had a special affinity for them because I could vividly remember what it was like to be new and inexperienced.

Like being in too deep water wondering if you were going to drown before you gain the necessary skills to stay alive. Celebrating small victories only to be thrown into a new situation that seemed to completely erase your progress. So many Humiliating Moments of just not knowing something that everyone knows every day.

You feel like an imposter–that you don’t belong here. Maybe you shouldn’t have even tried.

And yet, The Veterans keep saying otherwise (the nice ones, at least….But what if they’re just being nice?). They keep pointing out how you’re growing. But you can’t believe them. They keep saying, “It takes a year.” “Wait and see–you won’t believe how far you’ll come in a year or two.”

A year or two?! I measure time in weeks and semesters. A year is forever. Two years is…even longer.

Yet two years pass, then four. Now you’re precepting the new person. People look for you in the hallway to ask you where specialized equipment lives and how it works. You get called into rooms to troubleshoot challenging problems. And you wonder, “When did this happen?” “How did this happen?”

More time passes, and now you’re the veteran–the “old” person–who makes the annoying “Just Wait a Year or Two” speeches to the newbies (and noting to yourself the disbelieving, near-despair look in their green eyes).

You know full well that there’s no shortcut to awesome. The only way out is through.

So, today, just buy them a coffee. It’s easier to believe.

And in a year, be sure to point out, and celebrate when they rescue you with a bit of expertise that you didn’t know.