As with most veterinarians, I was away this past week on "vacation", which really means I went to a continuing education class and took a few days off before it so I could have some down time. Vets don't take real vacations - you know, the two weeks off where you get to really decompress and start to realize maybe you have a good life, the ones where you actually are excited to return home?
Yeah. It wasn't one of those.
Now, granted, I will admit that the location of the CE class was pretty stellar. It was held in Yosemite National Park, which, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Still, there's something wrong about sitting in a classroom, staring out the window at the granite mountains, wishing you weren't having to learn anything. In fact, cashiering at the gift shop or working the flat top grill
seemed more appealing to me than returning to my life as a vet. At
least, for a few minutes, that is....
I did squeeze in two days of super duper fun in the.... snow. Downhill skiing. A good friend of mine told me that the only way she was ever really able to decompress was to do something that completely took her mind off of her practice and of being a veterinarian. For her it was extreme sports.
It's kinda like that for me, too, in that I have to do things that completely exhaust me, that have nothing to do with veterinary medicine. Thus, downhill skiing and scuba diving are my two favorite pasttimes.
So I downhill skied for two days and forgot all about being a veterinarian.
That is, after the first two hours of Day One.
See, I took some refresher lessons, and while riding the lift up to the sissy little bunny slope, the cute, nice ski instructor (are they defined any other way?) said to me:
"Your husband told me that you have my Dream Job. You're a veterinarian!"
To which I replied,
That was it. That was about all that I said. I did manage to mutter out a few words that said something along the lines of, "it's a really difficult job to be a vet" while the instructor was talking to me about various things related to animals. I barely heard anything he said because - to be honest - I hadn't skied in a while and I was trying not to piss my pants before getting off the lift!
So the scary part did distract me.
Later on though, I realized how rude I must have sounded. It may have been partially because I was trying to focus on not dying while downhill skiing, but... the hard truth was that I had no positivity to offer about my profession, I didn't say much about my practice and I never once said, "Oh yeah, it's a GREAT JOB!" I didn't even THINK that.
To him, I hold a high position, a dream position, and he was excited about it and envious.
But what I thought was, "wow, I have his dream job, and he has mine... a ski instructor in Yosemite."
Could we switch places please?
I guess what has lingered in my mind about this interaction is my question to myself of when did I lose that feeling of ambassadorship for my profession? When did I start rolling my eyes to myself when someone mentions that it's their dream job? When did I start screaming in my head to people (that they never hear) that it's NOT a dream, but rather a NIGHTMARE job on some days?
There are theories that those of us who are the kindest, the most sensitive, most emotional types of people suffer the most of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I just never, ever, in my entire life, thought that my choice of career would worsen that for me. But it does.
I have no idea how to break that cycle other than to continue to find and develop my life outside of vet med. If anybody has any other advice, not just for me, but for our readers who might be experiencing the same thing... please chime in.
Till then, I'll keep pursuing the things that make me happy that have absolutely nothing to do with being a veterinarian, and I'll keep going on vacation, pretending I'm living a different life, if only for a few weeks a year.