I have spent my entire life wanting to be a veterinarian when I grow up. I think there was a month or two when I was about thirteen or fourteen when I was really active in my church, and for those two months I considered that maybe I wanted to be a UU minister. Well, when that month or two was over, I was back to wanting to be a vet.
I started working at a local vet clinic when I was fifteen, and never really stopped after that. In high school I went abroad for six months and obviously could not keep my job while I was on the other side of the world, but no worries! I found a Clinica Veterinaria where I happily worked every Saturday morning. When I returned to the states, it was back to work at the hospital, and after not working with animals for one measly semester in college, I never took a break again until my first real-life job. I decided to take a break from veterinary medicine and try something a little more human oriented. I thought maybe animals weren’t my thing anymore… after a year and a half of rape crisis work, I went back to the dogs (and cats and rats and bunnies and birds… you get the idea).
The big thing that I didn’t do in all of this time was actually finish my classes to apply to vet school. Every year I have said, “This year I’ll finally take X so that I can get my application in for next fall,” and every year something comes up: I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I refuse to skip my honeymoon so I can take the first Organic Chem exam. Not the worst excuses, but finally I realized something.
I don’t think I want to be a vet.
A couple of weeks ago, I was preparing to leave my job at the cat clinic and wondering what would come next. I put together a list of the things I have loved about all of the veterinary medicine work I have done in the last almost-11 years (seriously, almost 11 years? Crazy!):
- Working with people and animals. One or the other doesn’t quite cut it for me.
- Troubleshooting with people about their animals, a la, How can we get your cat to take its pill? How can we help you transition a new pet into the house? How can we get your cat more active or your dog more engaged? etc)
- Working with the same people over time, and getting to know clients. I love recognizing people when they come in; I love that they know me by name and that I know them well enough to stop and say hello around town.
The thing I realized is that none of this is specific to medicine. So… here goes something else? Monday was my first day of officially no longer having a full time job. Of course, I still got up at 6:30, dropped my wife off at the bus, took the dog for a run through the woods, and then went to my volunteer position at a wildlife sanctuary. As I pulled up to my driveway after all of that, I glanced up and there was a bald eagle flying over our house.
I’m seeing hope around every corner. Here I am, knowing that I’m on the edge of something big, and feeling like I’m waiting for it to materialize in front of me. I have a petsitting business and a domain name – could I someday expand this to a training/behavior business? Do I go back to school for something awesome? Does someone reading this know exactly what all the signs point to?