Today I start my final week of veterinary school. When I look back on my experiences over the past four years, I realize that I break things out into semesters. The first semester of my first year of veterinary school looked quite different than the final semester of my fourth year. To say that I have changed would be an understatement. Survival required evolution. I didn’t always get it right, and that is okay. I suffered through breakups, my mom’s sickness, the realization that I was no longer the smartest person in the room. These past four years have tested me in the most profound way. As I begin to transition from veterinary student to doctor, I realize that I am afraid. There are so many things to be afraid of when you hold the lives of others in your hands. There are so many things that can go wrong. But what is my biggest fear? If I had to put it into words, it would be making a mistake that costs an animal its life. Honestly, it scares me to even type that sentence. Ultimately, it is the fear of failing in my duties as a veterinarian.
so how do we move past fear?
I don’t think it is that simple. Fear permeates so much of our lives. It keeps us stuck in situations that are unhealthy. It prevents us from fulfilling our dreams and living our destinies. Fear of failure can be paralyzing. It creates indecision and that, in our industry, can also have fatal consequences. As new graduate veterinarians, we must be able to move past this to operate from a space of love. To know our limitations and ask for help when we need it. We must never let our egos get in the way of providing the best care we can to our patients.
I know you are thinking, “but Shelby, how do YOU move past fear?”
The answer to that is sometimes I don’t. I sit with my fear and ask myself “Is this necessary? Is this true?” If the answer is “yes” to both of those questions, then I hold that fear with me. Sometimes, fear is necessary to understand what is at stake. In our profession, lives are at stake. Holding space for fear does not mean that you do not respond. It means you look that feeling in the eyes and move forward. You recognize that this is uncomfortable but you must make a decision. It is scary to take the title of Doctor and realize that people are counting on you. This is totally normal. My pledge is that I will not let this fear consume me.
We experience fear for a purpose. It is the same feeling we get when we are about to step outside our comfort zones. I have rarely had a moment of fear that I did not learn something from. Whether it is that I need to take more time to study and prepare, or that I need to focus more on my personal development, I learn. My grandfather once told me “If you are not growing, you are dying.” I believe that statement wholeheartedly.
Yes, my biggest fear is failure. But I won’t let this stop me from becoming an incredible doctor. I will stay focused on my personal development practice and my professional growth as a veterinarian. And that, my friends, is how I deal with fear.
In the end, we move forward together.
By talking openly and vulnerably with one another. We must create a support system for when we inevitably do make a mistake. This is the reason why I created this platform. To create a space for community and to provide resources to those who might not have the tools to cope with failure, anxiety, or depression. Social media is many things, but ultimately it is a community. If you are struggling, know that I have struggled too. If you are suffering, I have suffered too. I will always be there to talk to if you need me. All you have to do is reach out.