A professor once told me that advanced education worked as a balance of 3 aspects of life that formed a triangle: social life, academic success, and physical wellness. He told us we each had to pick two points of the triangle to focus on and forget about the other one because balancing all three successfully would be impossible during our undergraduate and graduate studies. This was very disheartening for me, and at that time it scared me. I even wondered whether or not I was doing the right thing by going to school to be a veterinarian. For anyone who has ever heard statements like this from mentors, upperclassmen, or anyone else, please hear me now. They are wrong.
It used to be a bit of speculation on my part in believing that the naysayers were wrong. Now that I have been living the veterinary life for almost 10 years, I feel that I have the credentials to say that they are wrong with confidence and assuredness. The fact is that there are many ways to live your life whether you work in the field of medicine or not. We all have choices that we have to make every single moment of every day. Whether or not we limit ourselves and the level of wellness we can achieve based off of the perceived difficulty of our lives is up to us and us alone. Subscribing to the idea that our lives are hard and we cannot have a social life while balancing school and physical wellness is a choice, as is allowing our academics to suffer if we allocate more time to social events and physical wellness. It may seem like a distant goal, but the balance of all parts of life is something that is achievable once we make the choice. This choice is only reached with a level of self-esteem and confidence that ensures that we know we are doing the right thing for ourselves.
It is tempting to subscribe to the idea that the masses live by, that veterinary students are strong type A personalities that would drop a friend by the wayside in order to get in study hours well into the night so they can get that high grade on an exam. I am telling you now that this is simply not the case for all of us. It certainly applies to some students, but I feel that our clients deserve better veterinarians than ones that live by that mindset. Moreso, we need to look within ourselves and ask how long that mindset will be sustainable. Unbalanced and unsustainable lifestyles are one of the reasons the veterinary profession is facing a crisis of personal health and wellness now more than it has ever experienced before. If not us, who will be the ones to make the change and turn things around towards a brighter day?