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Fear of failure

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

I was just at the physiotherapist getting my neck worked on, so while I was getting adjusted I was contemplating how I got there, then a spin-off in my brain occurred about how veterinarians have a fear of failure.

New graduates do not want to announce that their first job they took out of vet school didn’t work out for them. We leap into the job eager to start our careers and it was not how we imagined it. There were empty promises, lack of mentorship, and this led to unhappiness and either quitting the job, or suffering through it. For the number of my classmates that changed jobs in their first year out, only one of them talked to me about it while it was happening. We have a Facebook group for our class and no one posted publicly. How do we go four years together through the thick and thin of vet school with the inability to talk to each other afterwards?? Last year, one of my classmates posted that he was looking to move out of general practice and wondered what other people’s experience was like. A flood of comments came out of the woodwork. Wow! A few had moved on to graduate school, some were doing specialization, a few had moved on to government regulatory medicine, many had moved on from their first practice looking for better work-life balance or looking for a more positive work environment. I think the lack of public announcement stems from our fear of failure. You stick a population of high achievers in the same classroom, the 98th percentiles on the GPA scale through their undergraduate work, in competition with each other to achieve the highest score possible. The majority of vet students are Type-A personalities, on a continuum of course. No one wants to admit that they are a failure. We feel like failures if we can‘t survive our first practice we enter out of graduation.

Fear can be both a crutch and a stabilizer. It helps keep us from making mistakes, but this type of fear prevents us from seeking help. We're holding back from helping ourselves by not using the support systems that are available to us. No one wants to be a quitter. No one wants to run a race that they cannot finish. The reality that I want everyone to know is that, you are never alone in this race. You also don't have to run the race at the same pace as everyone else. People are soooo focused on their own struggles that they are and should not be judging you on yours. I agree with Gary Vee, strive for happiness and enjoy the process.

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