So often I hear of science professionals who do not like working or socializing with other people. This occurs both within and outside of veterinary medicine. Personally, I can understand it. Trust me, I have lived in the bush of southern Africa. Sometimes I even find myself so engrossed in what I am learning that I tend to forget other things. Spending time with others can take a backseat when I am enjoying learning so much. I forget people’s birthdays sometimes. I forget to call old friends and catch up with them. It happens to all of us.
However, I have come to learn that there is truly no substitute for the nourishment one can receive from spending time with other people. They don’t even have to be close friends. Experiences can be shared with others that surpass any cultural, age, or friendship boundaries.
I have found that sometimes the best cure for an academically demanding day is not to return home by yourself, but to return to a home that allows you to connect with other people. It is very difficult to feel lonely when you are associating with people who enjoy life and want to get to know about yours.
Further, in our profession, many of us (definitely myself) are die-hard animal lovers. Honestly. It is a daily struggle for me to resist getting one (or seven) shelter animals to come live with me and my housemates. Sometimes the company of animals can supply experiences that human connection cannot. But I think that daring to consider that animal connection is not always a complete replacement for human connection is one thought that may yield good results for many of us. Taking the chance on relating to people when times are tough has surprised me more than once, so much so that I am now a big subscriber to community connection with other people, as well as animals.
Let’s indulge for a moment and not forget an important part of this idea. Dogs are awesome. Cats are great. And so are people. Mix and match who/what you associate with, and then the real magic will start to happen.