Recently I experienced a family tragedy. My 22-year-old little sister was killed in a freak accident while I was away at school in the Caribbean. I cannot tell you how profound this event has been for me in all aspects of my life, but especially my new outlook on life and vet school.
After my loss, I found there were so many people around me that had experienced loss as well, and this not-so-secret society I was accepted into opened my eyes to the value of human connection.
Before the accident vet school was my entire life. I would spend every single minute of every single day living, breathing, and thinking vet med. I would walk down the road to school and see a goat and think, “What are its normal values? What kind of species differences do I have to memorize for the upcoming anatomy midterm?” I would look at animals as things that I studied so that I could learn and get a good grade.
But let’s back up a bit. A good grade equals… an A? a B? This is such a relative term for so many people. I have friends that come out of midterms with a frown and ready to jump off the tallest floor on campus because they failed.
When I say, “You can still pass the class,” they say, “I passed. I got an 80%, but I wanted a 100%.” A look of shock flashes over my face as I realize that I actually got a 72% on the exam and I was feeling pretty damn good about passing, but now my best friend who kicked major butt is on the verge of serious depression over a B.
These scenarios are all too real. We have found ourselves comparing ourselves to others on a quantitative level. But this is not necessarily our fault. We are trained to do it from that first time we colored in the in kindergarten.
Getting into vet school is extremely difficult and competitive, but it is a double-edged sword. We are trained to look at ourselves through the telescope of As and the hours we sacrificed scrubbing parvo diarrhea from the floors of clinics, and how many people we are “better than”. This is seriously wrong. There is enough room for all of us in the world. You are surrounded by equally talented, brilliant, amazing individuals.
Don’t compare yourself to Suzy. Maybe she took 10 Adderall and pulled an all-nighter for that A, and maybe you spent that time Skyping your mom or eating chocolate ice cream. Which is better? The answer is what makes you happy as an individual. I cannot stress enough how important it is to remain happy throughout vet school.
We are human beings. We are living, breathing, pooping, peeing, thinking things. We need love, we need friends, we need food, we need drink, and we need entertainment. Deprivation of these things is nothing to be proud of. We need to take care of ourselves as people. Take that walk, call your mom, tell your colleagues you love them.
Before the accident vet school was my entire life. After the accident vet school is a part of my life.
Now that vet school is just a piece of who I am, I have made room for myself in life along with school. I have made room for my family. I have made room for that 20-minute dance session with friends. I have made room to help a fellow colleague with car trouble even though I have to get my study on.
Life is short, and we can be taken at any time. Realizing this has taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I am much more engaged in school and I am doing extremely well, all because I told myself I just needed to take it one day at a time.
So if you are one of those people who has friends that talk about their 100% scores, be patient with them, for they are human just like you. If you are one of those people who feels the need to brag about your perfect score, that is fantastic, but maybe take a look around at your peers and try to imagine what it is like for them if they didn’t do as well as you.
Rise above the letter. Into the deep my friends. Love yourself. Accept yourself.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
Lauren Rooley is a current student at St. George’s University finishing up her second year of veterinary school. She is the president of the Feral Cat Project and founder and president of the SGU WAVMA Student Chapter. For summer, Lauren will be participating in NICA Vets in Nicaragua and MARVET in Mexico to further her experience in her two areas of interest; surgery and marine medicine. When she is not writing or studying she is enjoying the beach and her two dogs Lilo the Pothound and Dually the Lab..