change: looking ahead
Change has always aroused a sort of anxiety in me, the type that makes me want to flee in retreat to my comfort zone. It’s something that often feels terrifying and unpredictable, unyielding in its capacity to force relinquishing of control and pull you along its turbulent path.
Change is coming for me in the next couple months. After summer, I won’t be returning to vet school for my fourth year. Instead, I’m undertaking an intercalated Honours degree in Literature and Medicine. I’m excited but even more so, I am incredibly apprehensive. Every time I think about it, a restlessness shudders through my body, a combination of simmering nerves and hopeful anticipation. I’m happy to be taking a year off vet school to pursue a different interest, thankful even. I know I need the break, some time away from the relentless grind of it all. To recharge and reinvigorate my waning batteries before returning for my final two years.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a vet, as cliche as that may sound. But in that time, I have also been an avid reader (I once ran a book blog) and one day I’d like to finish writing a novel. Studying a science-based degree has stifled my creativity, disengaged my imagination and limited opportunities to explore and interpret freely. My best subject in secondary school was English – one that came more easily to me – but I gave it up in favour of Pure Maths in 6th year, with the belief that this decision would strengthen my vet school application. I don’t regret my choice but a part of me wonders what I missed out on because of it.
I discovered Literature and Medicine while procrastinating during a reading week before Easter. I was in my second year, feeling lost and overwhelmed by a sadness that came in waves. It sounded like an escape, a way out from all that weighed on my shoulders. I kept the idea tucked in the back of my mind and then third year came around. Things were better so I wanted to be sure I was applying for the right reasons. It took nights of careful consideration and discussions with the appropriate people. Ultimately I decided to go for it, filling out the application form on a dark January evening and submitting it without looking back.
When I learnt that I had been accepted in February, I’m not sure the reality of it fully sunk in. It wasn’t until two weeks ago when my courses were confirmed that it suddenly hit me: this is really happening. This pushed me head first into an abyss of consuming nerves. Am I ready for this? Have I made the right choice? What if can’t manage? A flurry of fear and self-doubt. I’d had these thoughts before but they returned in full force, loud and overbearing.
The worries are still sitting in my head now but they have much less noise and power. I just have to remember why I decided this was for me, that I see this as a chance to expose myself to a wholly different learning experience that will broaden not only my education, but my mind and thinking. I’m grateful to be able to explore not just one, but two passions in my life and satiate my thirst for both.
I’m glad I didn’t let my fear of change hold me back, that I saw what I wanted and fought through the negativity clouding my judgement to achieve it. Perhaps it would have been easier to shrink back into my comfort zone and let this summer be another that precedes a new year of vet school. It would certainly take less courage to return to familiar grounds with familiar people to study familiar topics. But I know it would fill me with regret to lose this chance from my grasp, that I’d look back and think what if? Where I am now is still littered with what ifs but whatever happens in the coming year at least I can say I tried, that I dared seek out change and venture into the unknown.
And I ask you this: Does change simultaneously frighten and thrill you too? And if any of you study or have studied English literature, I’d love to hear your experiences.