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Giving up the Dream

Giving up the Dream

When I was little I wanted to be a dinosaur. I think I actually wanted to be an archeologist but didn’t know how to articulate that. Next, I wanted to be an astronaut and then a rocket scientist (though, admittedly, I am so not smart enough for that). I wanted to learn about the universe and work at NASA. When that phase settled I set my eyes on veterinary medicine.

My dream: to be a vet

I don’t know what sparked that obsession because I didn’t grow up with animals (not unless hermit crabs count). My mother knew how much I loved cats and dogs so she made arrangements for me to volunteer at a vet clinic when I was 11. Since then I have known I want to be a vet. When I turned 14 I began working at the same hospital and continued that job until I was 25 years old. I worked as a veterinary technician and loved every second of it (except for the time a cat whacked me on the eyelid while I cleaned his cage).

The dream was vet school. I worked so hard for it. I tried my best at school and padded my resume. “vet school” fueled every action, every reaction, and every decision. I did everything right.

So why did it go so wrong?

When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease I continued to push through my hospital job as best I could. But, after a particularly hard winter, I had no choice but to take a medical leave of absence. Stress and physical strain just beat me. Though it was during this time I began my new obsession with skincare, beauty and nail art!

After the proper two weeks off, I returned to the job but I just couldn’t keep up. I was doing more damage to my body by pushing myself past my limits. I turned my focus to my beauty hobby and teaching elementary school classes.

Adjusting my dream?

I found out I am a good teacher. I am a great teacher and I have a knack for special education but…“I wanna be a vet” lurks on the back burner of my brain. I have to face the truth sometime, right? I cannot physically keep up as a veterinarian. Even the technician job is too demanding and I must now stop. I already lost the dream because I’m still in the first stage of grief: denial. I can’t accept that I probably won’t be a vet. Do I have to move forward?

I still do everything with vet school in mind but I need to move past denial and on to anger, bargaining, depression and hopefully acceptance. This is the only way I can truly pursue other options and hopefully find something I want to do with the rest of my life.

**Disclaimer: I am well aware I did not use definite language in this article…I just spent so long working for this one goal I just can’t seem to let go! And who knows, maybe one day I will go into remission and I can go to vet school. Do I really need to give up the dream?*** Did you give up a dream when you were diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease? Share with me in the comments!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • mcadwell
    8 months ago

    I’ve been suffering from RD since I was 33 even thought I’m 52 now and just got the diagnosis last year.

    Because nobody knew what I had, and because of all the doctors telling me the pain was all in my head, I truly believed I was slowly going crazy. Since I was “going crazy”, I gave up my dreams – they didn’t matter.

    Since I now know what I have, those old dreams truly don’t matter…I’ve lived without them for so long. Now my only dream is to wake up one day without pain. It’s a pipe dream to be sure but it’s still there.

    I keep waffling between anger and depression. Let’s face it, each time I try something, where I could do it last time but this time I can’t, the anger and depression will raise it’s ugly head yet again. And my world will become smaller and smaller as my illness progresses. Until one day when it just isn’t worth it anymore.

    Yeah, I know I’ll never accept this illness. That’s a given.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    8 months ago

    Oh gosh, @mcadwell! I am so sorry you went without a diagnosis for so long. I can’t imagine how frustrating and painfully (in every capacity) that was.

    You’re not alone in feeling anger and depression, many of our community members (myself included) would agree they feel those emotions pretty often.

    Please know you can always come here if you need to talk or just need a little extra support. We understand what you’re feeling and are always here for you.

    Thanks for commenting on my article. You know I always appreciate it!! ~Monica

  • mcadwell
    8 months ago

    And thank you for the article. Sometimes it takes something like that to be available before a person feels comfortable enough to talk about it.

  • kkharrod
    8 months ago

    I’m going through that now at age 60. I had taught since I was 20, and teaching, especial English, was my passion and purpose in life. It seemed the perfect job for me because it paid private school tuition for my children, allowed me to move around, to against a stool, or to sit as needed. It also provided the social, mental, and creative challenges I need. Eventually, however, RA/RD won, and I am now on disability. It’s hard for me to say, even in print. So now what? Nearly my entire life has been spent help others. Suddenly, I feel self-absorbed. Because of extreme fatigue and unpredictable day, I don’t feel that I can even be a reliable volunteer for a couple hours a week. Has anyone else faced this? What have you done? By the way, Monica, until I was a senior in high school, I planned to be a vet. That year I worked with underprivileged children and they won my heart. As much as I love all animals, I decided the children were more important. I hope that, if your circumstances can’t change, your heart and passion will. Teaching is a rewarding job! I am considering learning to train service dogs.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    8 months ago

    Hey @kkharrod! Thanks for sharing on my article!!

    Funnily enough, I actually teach after school programs to elementary-aged kids. I really enjoy it but I still can’t help but feel my true calling is with animals. I may consider melding the two together and doing dog therapy for children. Who knows. I have time to figure out a new dream!

    You are a very caring and kind person so I am sure you will find a way to volunteer or help others in a way that doesn’t compromise your health.

    I wish you the best. Thanks again for commenting! ~Monica

  • Selma
    8 months ago

    I might still be in denial about this illness, but I am not giving up my dreams. I hope you will not either…

    Although, even without RD, I have altered my dreams in the past.

    I guess my question is, what is the reason for changing them?

    Is it RD? Or is it something else?

    Also,this is probably not helping, but it might give you something to think about.. 🙂

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    8 months ago

    Hey Selma!! Thanks for commenting on my article!

    Veterinary school is quite physically intensive. The students take care of their own patients without the aid of vet techs and must perform small surgeries.

    I am sure there are ways to accommodate my illness but I think I also need to realistic in that I may not be able to handle the work, long hours on my feet, etc.

    Though, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to work with animals. I think I just need to get creative and come up with another job!

    Thanks again, Selma! ~Monica

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    8 months ago

    Hey I wanted to be a teacher, ended up working in a city hall for 17 years and then became a school administrator without ever being a teacher. The world sends us on strange paths until we end up where we wanted to be.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    8 months ago

    This is so true! Though, Rick, it’s interesting how you ended up in a school anyways! I think I just need to get creative in how I’ll work with animals.


  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    8 months ago

    I have all the faith in the world that if you really want it you will be it. It took me until I was 57 to get a doctorate. I wanted that when I was a kid. I just had to keep trying.

    Oh and by the way my doctorate is in education. I specialized in school finance. Who knew all those years ago that is the way it would end up.

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