I have just spent the last few hours researching my future career as a veterinarian, and the results are rather discouraging. Everyone I talk to and everything I read reiterates that there simply are not enough jobs, and the jobs that do exist do not pay enough money to stand up to the crippling amounts of debt piled onto students by vet schools. So now I am faced with the dilemma of pursuing the career that I am undoubtedly made for or adjusting my path to something that will give me a more stable future.
I know that I will stay with veterinary medicine regardless of the money. Not many people are as lucky as I am to find something they are so passionate about, and I will not be dissuaded by the money. However, I am a realist at heart, so I do not take the financial burdens lightly. It is painful to have to acknowledge that pursuing your dream could be the very thing that kills it. That entering the field I love so much could be the thing that destroys my enjoyment of it. So many of the blogs that I have read are full of inspiring posts about pursuing your dreams, full of assertions that there is always a way. But what if the way to reach my dream ends up killing it before I get there?
It is a sad indication of my impending adulthood that I must face the realities of the world I am easing my way into. In that world, money rules everything. In that world, you can’t simply fall off the grid and pursue your dreams in the purest sense. If you are going to accomplish something, you have to accomplish it within the means society provides to you, even if those means fundamentally alter the end product. Jobs that have their origin in compassion and care are now business endeavors. People that went to school to help others now ask how much a potential client can pay. These are not bad people, corrupted by money. These are people that have accepted the system they were thrust into. And I see no other option but to follow in their footsteps, as difficult as that is for me to accept.
Maybe it’s the constant rain of the past week that makes the future look so bleak, but there certainly seems to be very little light at the end of the tunnel. There are tiny glimmers of hope that rest in extremely competitive scholarships and virtually impossibly small acceptance rates into special programs, but even if I manage to get the huge debt under control, the career itself still holds many unfortunate realities. Long hours, difficult schedules, minimal vacation, low salaries, physical demands, and approaching treatment as a business. It does not exactly paint the picture of the career I always imagined.
Here I am stuck with this impending conundrum, while also stuck between the realism of adulthood and the optimism of childhood. The child in me wants to believe the money will work out or that changing my career path will yield the perfect picture I have in my head. Neither of those scenarios is necessarily true. The money could work out. A different career could suit me very well. Yet I have to make a decision without any idea of the outcomes.
But despite all of that, I sit here cozy now with a dog (foster dog) resting his head on my leg, looking up at me as his eyes fall shut, and I know I am doing the right thing. For now I think I will let the child inside of me win out and allow myself to imagine a career’s worth of deep, soulful eyes looking up at me with that same innocent, loving, trusting expression. Those eyes don’t know anything about money problems. They know only that they are safe, loved, and cared for. And that is what will always make the issues worthwhile. I will gladly go home in an old car to a modest home if it means that I get to do what I love. We may be forced to live in a society that is run by money, but that does not mean that we have to let money run us.