Relationships are hard. Now give one person tons of homework, added stress, and take away a lot of their free time – a relationship sounds almost unachievable. I am here to tell you it can work. And this can be for any relationship, not just with a significant other, but also with family and friends.
I made a decision early in vet school, that family and friends were more important to me than straight A’s. There are students out there that can have the best of both worlds, but I am not one of them. Vet school showed me right off the bat, that commitment to outstanding grades is a lot of work – for me it meant long study hours both weekdays and weekends. If I dedicated too much of my time to one (studying vs family), I could feel the other slipping. It is these relationships that keep me happy and sane, and for me it was not worth sacrificing them for better grades. So my decision to be an average student was an easy choice for me. So, I enjoy my weekends hanging with family or friends and my weekdays are devoted to school. I am not saying this is the right way to do it, but for me it works.
It is unrealistic to think that you can give everyone all the time that you want to. A huge personal stressor for me is I am a people pleaser–I constantly work to keep those closest to me happy. As with everything, there has to be a balance –and in this case, the currency is time. Living in my home state near all my loved ones has been both a blessing and a curse. Along the way, I have had to learn to say no. That sounds so cliché but it’s true. I still feel guilty when I do, but it has become a little easier each time. For example, when I began school I sat down with my whole family and let them know that I would be partially non-existent for the next four years. I do not believe they fully understood it at the time, nor me for that matter. It was especially tough with my sister’s wedding last fall where I was the maid of honor. I gave her the time that I could, but I knew that she felt that it wasn’t enough. I made it up to her by being fully engaged come wedding day and putting together a beautiful slideshow after. I may not have been able to give her my time for preparation, but I found ways to show her how much I cared.
In terms of romantic relationships, I actually started vet school single. I met my boyfriend, Michael early my third-year. I honestly did not see it going long term because I had seen the struggles of my fellow classmates with balancing their own relationships. Adding another one to my life, sounded crazy. To add to the difficulties, early in our relationship he got a job out of the state and who was I to keep him from pursuing his career–at the time just a girl he recently met that seemed pretty cool. As I got to know Michael, the decision to keep him became an easy one. I say that as though he had no choice in the matter, but we all know that taking on a relationship with a veterinarian let alone a student is a difficult one. He also struggled with the thought of a long-distance relationship, but like myself, he came to realize just how much it was worth it.
He has taught me more about patience and maintaining life balance than anyone. Even though I had to learn to be a good girlfriend while being a good student, he made the process easy. He understood the toll of my education and even persuaded me to study more when I’d rather be talking to him. I actually never truly understood how stressed I was until he helped me relieve it. I realized that extra bit of study-time was better spent talking to him. I personally don’t know if my grades would have better this past year if we had not been together. I am positive I would have been less distracted, but I would not be as happy as I am now. I do not regret it whatsoever and can’t wait for the next chapter of our relationship. If I hadn’t have had the mentality of relationships being more important than grades I would have never let him into my life. Just remember to not always let your focus on school blind you from the chances that may be around you!
Surrounding myself with these strong relationships gives me the courage and confidence to succeed in the future. I have an incredible support system that I continue to solidify and grow while in vet school. To me, your circle can never be too big! Relationships take work and I know that it will constantly be a battle for me to find a balance between my own life and theirs. I recommend to you all that you take the time to work on the relationships that you feel may be slipping. An extra phone call goes a long way. In the end, it should be those closest to us that matter most not the grades we received while in school.