Let’s say you have a day off from work, or class just got out, or that Friday exam is finished, or you’re getting off work early and you’re ready to have fun. Finally! You can escape vet med for once and revel in some normalcy. Regular life, no responsibility, a relaxed mind, and no thoughts (aside from remembering to breath and to maybe eat some food). The options are endless when you finally have free time, but you decide to join some friends on a boat trip. Obviously, you accept the invitation. The open ocean, waves, salty breeze, sunshine, maybe a pod of dolphins – all beneficial for the soul. You’d be crazy to decline.
You’re out on the boat, without doubt, and what is a free day on the open ocean without jumping in the water? It would be great if the dolphin pod would accept you as one of their own. Your chances of acceptance are higher because of your “I’m a veterinarian and I care for animals” vibes. If only you were a marine mammal specialist, they’d like you even more! Regardless, you jump in.
The moment your feet hit the salty, warm, crisp water you ask yourself, “Does it really matter whether or not I believe in water?” This question reminds you of William Richards, a clinical psychologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who originally queried, “Once you’ve plunged into the ocean, does it really matter whether or not you believe in water?”
It doesn’t. Right? You better start kicking and keeping your head above water. Even if you can hold your breath for a while, you’ll eventually need to come up for air, and it’ll be a couple thousand or million years before you can grow gills. Gills would be cool, but you don’t have those yet. Accept that reality and do what you can.
So, it would be best to accept the ocean around you and adapt, keep swimming, stay above water, and enjoy yourself. Rather than explain specifically how this idea relates to veterinary medicine, clinical practice, exam taking, and really any situation in life, I’d rather leave it up for interpretation. Everyone is different, and that’s ok. Some like to paddleboard, others backstroke, some parasailing, or yacht with endless mimosas. Regardless of the preference, the ocean is still there and it affects us all in the same way.