The only thing I can hear over my heartbeat pounding in my chest is the fast pace of my labored breathing. At over 8,800 feet above sea level a metal cable is the only thing between me and falling from this nearly 90-degree vertical drop, I just climbed. Inside my head, the only thing I keep telling myself is to keep breathing. Wondering why I put myself through all this pain, I finally reach the top of this granite slab in the center of Yosemite National Park and the views are indescribable. I finally climbed Half Dome.
For many of us in the veterinary profession, we let the stress build up. We focus so hard on getting through coursework, getting the experiences we need, saving patients, making connections, maintaining reputations, and working long nights and early mornings that we often forget to take a moment for ourselves. We constantly need to remind ourselves, “Don’t forget to breathe.”
For me, finding time for myself has always been a struggle. I am always focusing on when I can squeeze in that extra hour at work or pick up an extra task here and there. I needed to find a way to center my motivation into a different kind of challenge. Over the past year, I took the time to plan the trip of a lifetime to Yosemite National Park; a childhood dream of mine. After backpacking through the wilderness for three days, filtering my water from the Merced River, encountering a bear and of course, climbing Half Dome, I found a sense of accomplishment I wasn’t able to find in getting an A on my last exam or a few extra dollars on that paycheck. This trip made me aware of so much more than how out of shape I was. It showed me that sometimes, I need to take time for myself. That indeed, the profession I am pursuing is challenging and demanding but at times you need to put yourself first. I was able to find a challenge outside of the hustle and bustle of the animal world and found it incredibly rewarding. Being out among the Ponderosa pines and hearing the rush of the waterfalls allowed me to stop and breathe in the thin, fresh air and just enjoy the clock moving a little slower.