It’s hard for me to believe this, but I am now just a few weeks away from completing the first semester of second year of veterinary school!
My friends and family love to ask me, “How is second year going?” And my answer to that has been, “It’s going much better than first year!”
Their reactions are always a mixture of surprise and wonder. Is it an easier semester? Are there fewer exams? What’s different?
Well, the truth is that veterinary school is still extremely difficult, and the exams are still just as stressful and overwhelming as ever.
That hasn’t changed, but my perspective has.
See, there were several times throughout first year during which I felt like my life had been put on hold. I watched as my friends from college moved to new places, accepted full-time adult jobs, and traveled to countries around the world, all while I was sitting at a local coffeeshop studying for my upcoming exams.
I had fallen into what seemed like an endless routine of wake up, go to school, study, sleep, rinse, and repeat. I found myself wishing that I could just skip to graduation and become a veterinarian, so that I, too, could start living my life. But then I realized that by wishing that, I was wishing time away.
Oftentimes, we let ourselves be blinded by our goals and the finish line and we don’t realize that life is happening at the same time; I realized that I am never going to get these years back.
It struck me that my life is happening right now—I need to be present in the moment and I need to live it.
So, this past semester, I made a conscious effort to lead a more balanced life. Of course, I still spend the majority of my time either in class or studying, but I made time for myself.
I started exercising regularly again and I didn’t let myself feel guilty for taking breaks and spending time with my friends. I deliberately set aside time for loved ones back home.
Every time I take a little bit of time away from studying and from school, I come back rejuvenated and excited to learn again, and it has made vet school so much more enjoyable than when I was just consumed by its stressful rigor.
It’s amazing what a little change in perspective can do.