How To Breathe Underwater
Ah, the quest for the perfect book title… My current writing endeavor, the lessons I’ve learned growing up, the trials to becoming a vet and opening my own practice, along with many side twists and turns, will eventually need a title before it takes the beating along the long publication road. My current title, “How to Breathe Underwater,” formed around my struggles to fit in in school and my chosen career field. I was an awkward, tall, smart, athletic girl in a society that still expects girls to be less smart than boys, shorter than boys, worse at sports than boys, cute, girly, quiet and polished. And now, I am a tall, slightly-less-awkward, smart, fish doctor who gets to repeatedly explain my odd job to basically everyone. I love the water and working with my fish patients is the most rewarding career path I could have picked.
Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved kitties and doggies and wanted to love them and pet them and hold them and squeeze them. At least that was an easy career path to follow: middle school -> high school -> college with a degree in some sort of biology -> vet school. Simple and straightforward. However, I have lots of friends who don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. I can understand that answering the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” is not the simple quandary it was when we are little. By the time you get to be 20, 30 or even later, if you can’t answer that question, there must be something certifiably wrong with you. I have many friends who struggle with a simple question that does not have a simple answer. The adorable answers we gave when we were 5 don’t count. Well, mine counts, but I am a rare exception. I know my friends will find their own paths. They are strong, smart individuals who just didn’t figure things out as early as I did. Nothing wrong with them whatsoever. What I write about my own stumbles and trips down the path to my career may help them and millions of others understand that it’s okay to not have the right answer right away, but discover it through their own struggles.
At the center of my story, there’s the girl who always wanted to be a veterinarian and chose one of the most uncommon fields of vet med: aquatic. Fun fact #1: very few vet programs are even aware that an aquatic specialty exists. I told Tufts yesterday, when they called me for a donation, that I will only give them money when they have established an aquatic program. Fun fact #2: you even mention that you’re interested in fish as a vet student, you get laughed at. You get laughed at by the doctors who you look up to and respect. Sad, but true. Fun fact #3: when you finally find the aquatic vets who love what they do and ask you to join in, you know you made the right choice. I have learned to breathe underwater because that is where I belong. I have a career that I loved and it was not easy to get here. I know there are others out there who may not know where they want to end up or how to get there, and I hope my writing can help. That is what I am trying to accomplish in my writing. I want more people to achieve their own impossible dreams. Mine? How to breathe underwater.
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