Trust your instincts

Leaving the path of my childhood dream

Growing up, my love for animals was beyond anything else. No matter who it belonged to, what breed, how old, etc, I would give my undivided attention to any creature in my sight. That was just who I was. I was the girl that loved animals more than the people around her. It never changed. To this day, I love my dog more than anyone else.

Feeling an overwhelming amount of love for animals my entire life led me to an easy conclusion that most people find somewhat dreading. By the age of eight, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. I wanted to help all the hurt and damaged friends I could. I clung to this decision like my life depended on it. This was what I wanted, so this is what I was going to do.

“I was excited, I knew you had a love for animals and I thought you would do great,” Amber Kemp, my mother, stated.
When I graduated high school, I got accepted to Tarleton State University. I was beyond ecstatic with the school being an agriculture based school and learning more each day about the pre-vet program they had. My dream was coming true. I was going to college to become the vet that I always said I wanted to be. It was amazing, until it wasn’t.

“I was super excited for you, but also had lots of question marks. As in, I never thought that was what you were going to go to school for. I didn’t see you being a vet and I did not see anything in your previous history to even point in that direction, except for the fact that you loved animals,” Kim Obar, my grandma, stated.

My first semester went pretty well. I studied at least 10 hours for every test because I knew that was what you “had to do in college.” I made the presidents list (straight A’s) and did not really pay attention to everything I had actually missed out on. I was focused, prepared, and ready for college. I did not think that going to homecoming week or making friends was a necessity, I just needed to focus on classes and my job at the JTAC newspaper.

Second semester hit me in the face like a brick wall. All but one of my classes were science based. Not long after classes began, I started to slip. I quickly realized my love for animals could not overcome my dislike of science. I felt like no matter what I did the hole that I fell in just continued to get bigger and bigger no matter how many people were trying to pull me out. At first I could manage it. I thought I was just going through a funk, as I like to call it.

“I thought that maybe it was your mental health that was making it harder. Your own true struggles. Your anxiety and the stress, because it’s exasperated so much with you because of your mental health,” Obar stated.

Many of the most important people in life started to watch my happiness drift away. My only answer was “I do not know why.” And at that time, I didn’t.

“As a mother, I was worried. But I knew you would be fine,” Kemp said.

For a while I could handle it. I sucked it up and moved on. What could I do? I was taking the classes. I refuse to drop out, I’m better than that. I was just stuck. I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

I guess my version of “keeping it together” was not a good one. Soon enough the people surrounding me really started to worry. I had been keeping my thoughts in my head as I thought they were irrational, but I guess I should have let them out sooner.
“I was worried and scared for you with your anxiety acting up. I didn’t know how to make it better, and as your mom, that was hard,” Kemp explained.

I was scared. All I had ever wanted to be was a vet. I had never even considered another job or career path. The one thing that held me together throughout my downfall was the newspaper. It took me a while to see that, but once I did, the little light bulb above my head flashed on. The newspaper was my getaway. Editing and writing articles. Informing students, faculty, and staff about news and events through the art of writing. It was what had replaced my happiness.

Quickly after I came to this realization, I went back to my dorm room. Even though I had found myself a path of happiness and excitement, I began to cry. I felt as if I was failing myself and my family. Being a vet was my dream, I had already spent a year of college taking classes for that career, etc. I felt as if everyone would think I was a waste of time. I graduated in the top ten percent of my class and I am not going to be something as “cool” as a vet?

I went to my advisor and we chatted. I did not even want to look at her seeing as this was my third time in her office that week to figure out where my life was headed. Within seven minutes, I was walking out of there with an English major, concentration in technical writing. She told me my “face lit up as we were talking about the classes” and that is when she knew that this was the right decision for me.

I was walking back to my room with a smile on my face. The one that had been missing the past few weeks. I cried when I told my roommate and best friend, Kyndal and Leah. It took me a while to get past the “feeling like a failure phase,” but their kind words helped a lot.

“I was surprised just because you were so set on it, but happy that you would finally be able to do something that you liked and you wouldn’t have to struggle mentally, emotionally and have to go through all of that,” Leah Lopez, animal science major, states.

“I was relieved for you, that you would get to live a college experience of going to homecoming week, let’s go shopping, let’s go to fort worth, let’s hangout with people. It is like I knew right then that your mental health was going to be better just from not having the stress of not liking what you are doing. A part of me felt sad for eight year old you that wanted to be a vet because that’s what you said you’ve always wanted to do, but part of me was super proud that the nineteen year old who said ‘i’m going to do what makes me happy and not what people may expect of me.’ It’s okay to change your mind. If you’re not in love with it, you shouldn’t do it,” Kyndal King, ag communications major, states.

Telling my mother and grandma was a relief as well. It was not any easier, but I knew deep down that no matter what I told them, they would support me all the way.

“I was happy because it’s what I’ve been telling you you should have done all along. I’ve always said that you are a talented writer and that you needed to do something in that field regardless. It was such a bigger, better fit for you than what you were going for,” Obar said.

“I knew by the look on your face that you were relieved and excited to do this. I told you that you would do amazing in anything you do,” Kemp explained.

I am now happy where I stand in the college world. Next semester I get to begin my writing classes and I am beyond excited. I now will get to enjoy college as I should have this first year.

Taking a jump like this is something I never would have expected myself to do. Being in college, I have changed tremendously and I see my action as a sign of “growing up.” Change is scary, especially when it has been the same since you were an eight year old. Trusting my instincts and taking the next step is something I will be forever grateful for. Even if I had to beat myself down before I could build myself up again. Do what makes you happy. Do not rely on others to make the choice for you. You must be willing to make the first move. The anxiety, stress, depression, it will all pass if you are willing to take the jump.

“I don’t think that you are a failure at all. I think that you are smart enough to know that a change needed to be made and you made it. A lot of kids your age continue because they are afraid of disappointing or failing and they keep on going and then they have to spend an extra four years because they go out there, try it, and decide it’s not what they want to do. I don’t think that you are a failure, and I think that what you thought was your childhood dream was not what your gift was. Your gift is English, your gift is writing, your gift is all of the above,” Obar concluded.