In case you haven’t noticed, I cry pretty easily. I’ve always been a pretty emotional person, but it’s how I release stress, mostly. It’s easily one of the worst defense mechanisms out there and sometimes makes me feel weak, but for the most part, I’ve learned to accept it as part of me.
Despite this, I still don’t love crying in front of other people, especially my histology professor. But that’s exactly what I did yesterday when I went to meet with him to talk about my failing test grade. He asked me what the process of converting cartilage to bone was and instead of thinking “endochondral ossification”, I hit a wall and instead of saying “I don’t know” like a normal person, I burst into tears. Poor Dr. P. For half a second, there was definitely a hint of panic on his face and he asked me “uh what’s happening”. My beautiful response? “I hate vet school!”
He took it well, me blubbering in a chair across from his desk. He probably would rather be having lunch, or looking at tissue biopsies, or whatever histologists like to do, but he wasn’t. He was not only taking the time to help me learn the material, he was trying to help me through my little break down, and he was asking me a question.
“Do you want to be a veterinarian?” Well, there’s nothing else I can see myself doing. “Okay, so do you hate the material? The classes? Professors.” No. I hate feeling like I’m not good at anything at all anymore. “Well get used to that, it’s going to be the next few years.”
He wasn’t being cold in any way, he was joking (somewhat). If you go off grades, it might look like you know nothing because they can’t test you on everything you learn. Is it nearly impossible to forget about grades and say they aren’t important? After years of determining my worth based off of my likelihood of getting here (which is mostly based off grades) yes. It’s nearly impossible. But it’s completely impossible to truly learn and enjoy this process if they’re all you care about anymore. Also, if you’re always right, you won’t learn.
Something clicked though when he asked me if this is what I want. Initially, my answer is no because there’s more to the question. It’s not “do you want to be a vet?” it’s “do you want to be a vet which includes 4 years of intense training plus more if you want to specialize?”. But you can’t say yes to one part and no to another. That was my aha moment. I want to be a vet and I need to want to do this training too.
I can’t change it in a day, it takes three weeks of consistent work to change a habit (thanks Professional Development). But today when my friends said they were dreading class, I told them I was looking forward to learning about the acid base reaction in Clinical Pathology. It’s a small step, but it’s a step.