January 15, 2006

What Gain will I have post Pain?

No pain, no gain, so they say. But is 5 years of frequent misery worth whatever gain I might accomplish? I often have to ask myself why it was that I went to vet school. In my admissions essay I wrote about wanting to become an international vet. The reviewers were excited to see my enthusiasm, but said I needed to concentrate on being more focused. What exactly did I hope to DO as an international vet? I didn't know then and I sure as hell don't know now.
People ask what kind of vet I want to be. I used to say "International Medicine" without hesitation, and would add some description of ecological and policy related issues. Now I shrug and tell them that while international medicine was what lured me to Tufts, I now realize that I will have to forge a way to make a living. Holistic medicine interests me, but does that make money? The answer is yes, IF you have established yourself as a competent "regular" vet first, and then have 10 years or so under your belt as ONLY a holistic practitioner. So the answer really is, hopefully. So that leaves me still pretty unsure about what I hope to accomplish as a vet.
I know that I get really really emotional and fired up when it comes to ecological and conservation issues. I know that I want to help to make the world a truly better place, or at least to try and conserve some small part of what already makes it a wonderful place. I go to bookstores to study, and as I walk back from the bathroom I notice an aisle marked "ecological, animals, etc". There are 2 shelves of ecological books--mostly doomsday sad topics--and 8 shelves for national audobon type field guides of birds, plants, fungi, and 19 shelves of books for cat lovers, how to train your puppys, and the like. I get choked up at the incongruity of it all--why is our earth cared so little for?--and have to leave the store to cry in my car.
Before I make it out to the car, I pass the children's section and pick up a cardboard baby's book called "Hippos Go Berserk," thinking of my upcoming aunthood. I read it and it makes me smile. And then frown, thinking "Why am I in vet school when I could be writing cute, educational, fun children's books and being creative? Really, why am I here? I am so lonely. There is a blizzard outside. My car was iced this morning and I had to pour hot water on it to get inside. I listen to Yanni and cheap "Deep Sleep" CDs at a feeble attempt to stay calm and focused. All of this and I have only finished my first semester of vet school. I haven't even had the first exam of this second semester yet, but since the material is stuff I've covered before, I have a difficult time honing in and soaking it up. And I have 3 1/2 more years. OF THIS." For what, I ask myself, for what?
The education here is compact and in depth. I love knowing how this world works, how life works, and I am definately getting that education here. I chose vet school over working in politics as a means toward working for the good of our environment because I felt like my intellect might go to waste otherwise. I didn't want to be bored. Certainly, boredom is not a problem here. But having a life is something I hadn't considered. I assumed that I would have a life--that it would be what I made of it. And to a certain extent that's true, but that's a very, very limited extent. Tiny. My life is not enjoyable like I'm used to making it. As my stepsister Emma says of self-pitying situations, "wah', wahh". My life is lame and I feel like instead of wasting my intellect, my creativity and zeal is being wasted while I'm here. Is that something I'm willing to put up with? Last year when I told people I was failing and would have to repeat the year, they would ask if I was going to continue. It surprised me that they even considered not continued, because that was not an option in my own head. There was no doubt that I would finish vet school. But 17 months but only one semester into it, I'm not sure. I know that I don't have to do this, that I could pursue other things in my life, but that would be shutting a door (probably forever) that I'm not sure I'm comfortable shutting. Why, though, do I feel like I HAVE to finish this? Probably, truly, because I started it. Because I'm stubborn in that way, and inherited a bit of my dad's smash-your-way-THROUGH-a-brick-wall instead of pausing for a moment to figure how to climb over or around it, or turning away altogether and avoiding the wall.

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