Learning to be okay with your best

February 2020
Samantha Kelm

It’s no secret that the road to getting into vet school is…..rough. Focusing on your grades, trying to gain animal experience, being involved, and also having a social life. It seems almost impossible to do it all. Then one day, you get the letter or the call and it was all worth it because you are going to be a veterinarian! It’s almost an overwhelming feeling of relief that everything you have worked for the past 4+ years is all of a sudden coming true. The excitement almost doesn’t feel real until you get here. But now you are here, and then what? The road doesn’t get smoother, but it is different. You are now surrounded by people who once all had the same dream as you and now you are all living it. Up until this point, you were competing with these same people for a spot in veterinary school, but now they are your peers and the relationship is completely different.

Letting go of the pressure you put on yourself to get here has been one of the biggest learning curves for my first year. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I simply would not be able to get through the next four years if I didn’t change my view on what success in the classroom meant to me. I learned to be okay with my best. I may not be the top of the class or get all A’s, but I have established a sustainable work life balance that keeps me happy and keeps the excitement of being here alive rather than drowned out by stress. There will always be a few more minutes I could have studied or a few more points I could have gotten on an exam, but letting go of the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve attitude and celebrating doing my best has made this journey so much more enjoyable.

My goal is to always learn as much as possible with the tools and opportunities I am presented, but to also explore and find opportunities for learning outside the classroom. I find that combining what I am learning in the classroom with outside experiences and interests really solidifies my passion and reason for pursuing professional education. While scoring high grades is important for me, I value intrinsic growth when measuring educational success. This allows me to analyze where I started and the work I put into my education on a level that inspires me to succeed in the classroom. There is much more to a veterinary professional than grades, and not getting a 4.0 does not define your worth as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

I am writing this as a reminder to myself and to others that our best is good enough, that we are human and that comes with the inevitable truth that we will make mistakes, and that most importantly we deserve to be here. We have worked hard and we continue to do so in order to fulfill our dream of earning a DVM degree. Even on the hardest days, there are others that can only dream of having a spot as a student in a college of veterinary medicine and when complaints and frustration start to set it, this is the point we need to focus on. A semester into my first year and I am as grateful to be here as the minute I got my acceptance letter, and this is the point I choose to focus on. I choose to focus on the positive and see the best in every day. I am not here to deny that there will be hard days and that there is still a struggle to overcome in order to reach my goal, but I am here to continue to learn about myself and do the best that I can do. Overall, the most beneficial things I have learned in my first semester as a veterinary student is to have a little more self-compassion, keep a work-life balance, and that doing my best is good enough.