I cried the night I moved into my new place. Homesickness hit me when I least expected it, or probably because I’ve been on edge this past week with worrying about packing, moving and what not, coupled with worries about starting my first job etc..
Everything feels so unfamiliar and foreign. I feel so out of place in this new neighbourhood and am trying my best to blend in. People have been really friendly so far, but I can’t help but feel a tiny (very tiny) bit intimidated by being the only East Asian in the area. I know these feelings are temporary and I’ll feel better once I get going with my work routine.
I am starting my first day as a vet on Tuesday. The next time I’m writing to you, I’ll hopefully feel more confident than I am right now. It is an exciting yet nerve-wracking feeling. A zoom call with my vet friends made me reflect on how unprepared we all feel. I suppose no matter how much you’ve studied or practiced at vet school, nothing will fully prepare you for the real deal until you start on day 1. Going through the RCVS Day one competencies made me realise how much I still don’t know but that’s okay, we are called new grads for a reason, anyway.
After reading and hearing lots of news from the vet profession about how this job can be emotionally stressful and tough, and how the transition from final year to new graduate life is a steep learning curve, I came across this article
and found 3 actionable steps that I’ll be taking
(and you can too
) to equip myself with a ‘safety vet bed 😉’ incase I fall into the depths of self-doubt, anxiety and despair (a bit dramatic, I know
Practicing neutrality - referred to as ‘Beginner’s mind’ whereby the idea is to practice non-judgement, keep an open mind and make no assumptions when learning something. As I learn on the job, I hope to keep an open mind to learn from other vet’s methods and thought processes when working up cases, and make no assumptions when going into a consult with a so-called ‘difficult’ client. I hope to be on the same page as the owner at all times and work together with them to achieve the best outcome for their furry friend.
Priming - the article describes it as ‘engaging in any activity that boosts your emotional and mental energy.’ I think of it as a method to make sure I am in the right headspace to function and make decisions. Besides maintaining a regular sleep, exercise routine and eating healthy (that might be difficult to do), I will be making a ‘pumped up’ playlist to motivate myself when it gets hard to get up in the mornings (especially as the dark Winter days are upon us), an album of photos filled with memories that make me happy and a folder filled with kind comments from my internet family (you guys 🥰) for when I need a mood lift during difficult days.
Self compassion - “Resilience is the ability to self soothe.” I am well aware that I’ll run into
many a few walls when starting off, so building mental resilience is important. The article mentions these steps: first, admit that the situation is painful (one event that comes to mind is when I’m doing my first euthanasia), according to Professor Neff, simply labelling an emotion starts to calm you down. Second, acknowledge that you are not alone in feeling this type of pain. Third, figure out what kind, mindful action you could take to feel better right now (Eg. Sharing how you feel with close friends via message chat, playing with your pet, exercising after work.. Neff says simply putting your hand over your heart for a minute can get oxytocin flowing to provide emotional relief).
I hope these steps can help you deal with difficult transitions or situations in life, if you’re starting your first year at university, moving to a new place or starting at a new job.
One vetty thing - Before I sign off, here’s a fun read on optimistic dolphins
that I found interesting 🐬 💕
Finally, as always, please take care of yourself and remember that you got this 💪💪!