This song speaks to me a lot – read on and you will see why.
I was just at my brother’s wedding in Florida this past weekend. So many of his friends, many of which I know from his being in grade school and college, said to me that they were impressed at how I did something that most people just talk or think about doing, and don’t actually go through with it, and that is, a major change in life. While this made me feel good, it doesn’t banish all doubts from my mind. Sitting there and seeing so many people who seem to have it all together, many younger than me, and making MUCH more money than me. People able to afford to go on vacation when they want. And remembering, I used to be one of them. It does make you question whether some of your choices have been the right ones. Just because I made such a huge life decision a few years ago, doesn’t change the questions that even I ask myself sometimes.
When people found out I worked at a veterinary hospital, many assumed I was either a veterinarian or a vet tech. And even though I am not ashamed of what I do, because I think I’m very good at bridging the gap between animal skills and social skills, I felt like once I told them I was a veterinary receptionist, that was the end of the conversation, or like they didn’t know how to respond to that. Like I’m not living up to what my schooling would allow me to do. I got the impression that it didn’t really impress that many people. But I also found that regarding many of those people, I didn’t really care what they thought. If I had listened to all the naysayers a few years ago, all those who tried to project their fees upon me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d still be at Harvard, still doing the same job I had done for years, maybe learning a little bit more. But always wondering, “what if? What if I wasn’t too scared to go out and try something new?” I had already had those feelings about other decisions, like “what if I hadn’t gone to law school? What if I had tried to get a career as a writer or in publishing back when I was just out of college? Why did I think my only choices were lawyer or teacher?”
I made these changes over the past few years, because I was sick and tired of looking back and wondering “what if?” I didn’t want to live for many more years and still have all those regrets.
So maybe yes, I’m not using all that schooling that I am STILL paying for (and WILL be FOREVER), but when I talk to people going through the tough decision to euthanize their pet, and I can get them to smile as they reminisce about them, or just help that situation be a smidgen less painful, I feel like right now, I’m doing what i need to be doing. I don’t want to do it forever, though. But I do know that right now, my resume will benefit from my being in one place for at least a year. (I can’t believe I’ve been there for almost 6 months already!) I’ll figure out my next step. I just have to trust that I will know what’s the right decision for me to make, when the time presents itself.
The good thing about my company is that it does have hospitals all across the country and in six provinces of Canada. And my job is one that I can “shut off” when I go home for the day. That gives me time to work on other projects. My mom brought an article ripped out of a magazine for me to read (she’s a mom, it’s what they do. Technology is not her thing.) It was about puppy mills. Although I already know a lot about them, it still struck me. Maybe I am not doing all I can do to further my passion. Maybe I should take some of my God-given talents or skills and use them in other ways than what I currently do. Find other ways to help out animals, like through writing.
Now, I put this thought into words here on this blog, but I can tell you that in the past, reading about how freelance writers get their jobs, it scared the crap out of me. I might feel like I can write well enough on my blog, but no one is paying me to write here. And if there is only one thing that I learned from working at the Big Red H, it’s that there is a wealth of information out there and it can be hard to sift through and get to the point where you truly feel like you have exhausted all the resources at your disposal.
When I thought of becoming a writer a few years ago, I remember how I started to subscribe to all of these magazines that taught you how to write. And then I read through all these books that talked about how to “hone your craft.” By the time you’re done reading through all of it, it can be pretty damn scary. You can feel like a total failure before you even get started. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt or feels that way.
And that’s not the only thing that I have doubts about sometimes. I wonder if I am doing the best by my animals. One of my cats (my diva, Max) can’t stand Morgan, and with Morgan claiming the bed every night, his affection for her won’t grow. Callie seems afraid of her a lot but is getting better. HoneyBun tolerates her but lately not as much. Thank God for Snuggles, who entertains her and plays with her a lot. I’m just worried she is not getting enough exercise for her breed, and like I’m not challenging her brain enough. Cattle dogs/heelers are working dogs and high energy. I do try to take her on regular walks, but sometimes that doesn’t happen, and then she’s running around in the backyard like a dog with a serious case of ADHD, barking at every single bird she sees, tongue hanging out of her mouth, as she cocks her head up at them. (I have to admit, she does look like she’s smiling.)
Am I arrogant to think that only I can give them the lives they deserve? A man came into my hospital last week, and after a few days, he had to euthanize his dog, one that you could see he clearly loved very much. When he was leaving, he said, “if you know someone with a heeler, let me know.” And I talked to him about Morgan, wondering if maybe she would be better off with him. He’s retired. He has the funds to take care of her (his dog’s stay in our ICU wasn’t cheap.) He also has a yard, and she wouldn’t be in a crate all day. Would she be better off? I know she loves me. And I know how much I love to sleep at night feeling her next to me. She makes me feel safe. I know that no one will break into this house without her alerting me to their presence. (Have I mentioned the high crime rate in ABQ on this blog before?)
If I were to give up Morgan to someone else, I think of how guilty I would feel. How I would feel like I was breaking a promise to Morgan. You see, when I adopted her, I told her she had a home with me. I’ve always adopted animals with the eye to keeping them for the rest of their lives. So maybe I just need to spend some more time working with her, challenging her brain, and make sure I spend enough time with each of them.
But I also want to keep up with my own workouts and running. They help me to push the doubts away. My runs give me some of my best thinking moments. So then I tell myself, I just need to prioritize differently and ensure I have enough time for everything I want and need to do in a day. Maybe sleep a little less. And then I wonder if it’s possible to do all that. Again, doubts.
But you know what? Doubts get you nowhere. They keep you locked in place. And God knows, I felt locked in one place for so many years. Trapped by my own insecurities and the need for stability. Trapped by the fear of failing.
“Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled on.” Really listen to the words of that song. Because it won’t be easy. And it won’t be boring. But you will find out a lot of things about yourself. And hope that you never stop doing so.
As always, thanks for reading. Please drop me a comment below if you have ever had doubts that you’ve had to face, and how you did so. And thank you.