“Hello? It’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.” Okay, so maybe it sounds better coming from Adele. But you know who else wants to meet? Your younger carefree self. For many of us in the veterinary field, that version of ourselves is lost. We find ourselves in a worsening spiral of stress, depression, and apathy. Maybe it sounds like a trip down the rabbit hole but maybe it’s better described as a “swirling vortex of terror.”
It wasn’t always like this. I’m an assistant instructor for my taekwondo club and our students range anywhere from four years old to 50-plus. For the little kids, we’re not majorly teaching them to be the next Bruce Lee but rather encouraging listening, respect, and being active as part of a healthy lifestyle. But those kids grow up and some of them choose to help the younger kids.
One student-assistant in particular I’ve noted is very attentive to those newer students who need a little extra help and it warms my heart to see him pass on the knowledge. Something else I noted is a mutual respect between the students and the younger assistants. And none of these kids I’m speaking of is even a teenager yet! I remember it being like this when I was a kid. Couldn’t our politicians learn something from this?
Now we’re grown up and many people have joined the veterinary field. Veterinary medicine is tough. It’s a hard job but somebody has got to do it. That special someone is you! It can be very easy to get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of sick patients, angry clients, and clinic dynamics. You may want to give up; maybe you change jobs, maybe you change professions, or maybe you decide there’s only one way out of this mess.
The Kindergarten Complex
It doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t lose hope – those kids I was talking about earlier are wiser than we give them credit for. As kids, we are innocent. We don’t know hatred, bullying, or anger. I like to call this the Kindergarten Complex. Think back to that time….we wanted to be friends with everyone. We shared and we were kind. We were apologetic to each other. This is what we need to get back to.
Let’s find our younger selves. Your five year old self is out there and along the way, your friends will help you out. Yes, everyone should have a Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and wise caterpillar – just like Alice. Where will you find your own collection of varied sages? Right in your own clinic or family! Who knows you better and is concerned about your well being?
If you work in the veterinary field: veterinarian, technician, client services, management, kennel staff…be respectful and friendly to your co-workers. Treat them courteously. Try to be helpful at work and don’t put anyone down because of their position. Be loyal and don’t gossip behind their backs. If you think they are having trouble or seem distressed, reach out to them. Let them know you are there to talk. If you are the one being affected, know that there are people that care about you and places you can get help. Chances are one of your co-workers may be experiencing the same feelings.
For those of you who are not in the veterinary field (friends, family, clients), know that we are trying our best for you. Don’t participate in online gossip or internet shaming of anyone in the veterinary field. Once in awhile, let us know that we are appreciated. Anybody can ask how another person is doing; listen to them, empathize with them. Nobody has to be alone in this. Just being nice can make a huge impact in someone’s day and life. And that might make all the difference.