Mental Health

Focusing on the silver lining helped me get through this year

Life can be tough, and 2020 has shown everyone that and then some.

Life changed in an instant and we all found ourselves in a new and unfamiliar world we had never experienced before. It threw curve balls, made us jump over hurdles, and ran us into brick walls without a second thought. But, it was also wonderful, beautiful, and at times breathtaking. Life has a funny way of showing you exactly where you need to be and what you need. This past year has taught me many lessons, but there is one in particular I want to share.

In 2019, I started my first semester of vet tech school. I was fresh out of high school, and everything was new to me. A new place to live, new car, new school, new people. I was handling it okay, but a few months in, I began to doubt if I should be there at and if I belonged in veterinary medicine. I felt like a failure, and my support system was three hours away.

I received a phone call from my mother telling me she was driving down to see me. I didn’t think anything of it and anxiously awaited her arrival. Turns out she had driven three hours to tell me one of our beloved family cats, Nike, had been euthanized. He was only four years old. I was absolutely devastated.

My mother told me how kind the vet clinic staff had been to her, and how they provided comfort in a dark, difficult moment. That is when I felt my calling come back, my spark come alive again. I realized I wanted to do that. I wanted to be there for the next Nike and do everything in my power to help him, but I also wanted to show compassion and kindness to owners as they make decisions about their pet’s health like those who had helped my mother. I want to be there to advocate for my patients and their healthcare. I now always wear a necklace with his name engraved, to remind me of that lesson. That silver lining in that terrible moment is what helped me realize that veterinary medicine is truly my heart and soul.

Finding the silver lining in unfavorable situations has always been hard for me. This past year taught me those moments are so vital and important and we need to find them, no matter how dark the situation. Because at the end of the day, those moments will be the thing that keeps us going and help us get our spark back.

I am currently in my final semester of vet tech school and the past four semesters have taught me so much about myself. I am the first in my family to enter a career in veterinary medicine. I have struggled, cried, and laughed through this journey so far. I’ve had tough days, good days, days where I wanted to quit. But, the silver linings? It was hitting my first jugular successfully, correctly identifying every bone in anatomy lab skeletons, successfully placing my first IV catheter, and many other moments have helped me continue along.

My advice is to celebrate your victories and wins, no matter how small they might appear. Silver linings can be hard to find, trust me I know, but they provide a bit of hope and joy for tomorrow. That is something that everyone needs a little bit of, especially now.

Elizabeth Ward is a second-year vet tech student at Central Carolina Community College. After graduating, she intends to move home and start her career as a vet tech in a small animal general practice. While working as a vet tech, she plans to continue her education to eventually attend vet school, a dream she has had since she was a little girl. Outside of the veterinary world, she loves to read, paint, and watch movies and musicals. She also loves spending time with her family and fur babies including her miniature donkeys. Follow along on her journey on Instagram.


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