Episode 185 | Reclaiming Your Identity

In this episode, Dr. Cari Wise discusses the concept of identity and its relevance to veterinary professionals. She notes that many individuals in the veterinary field tend to primarily identify themselves by their credentials and occupational labels, which can result in a disconnection from other aspects of their lives. 

Dr. Wise shares that this disconnection is often a consequence of the sacrifices made during the academic journey to become a veterinary professional, and emphasizes the importance of creating balance within one’s life and exploring interests, values, and how one wants to spend their time. 

True balance and alignment come from understanding oneself and what matters most. Dr. Wise encourages veterinary professionals to change their perspective on their veterinary experience and prioritize their own wellbeing and fulfillment. 

Dr. Wise recommends looking into human design as a tool to gain a deeper understanding of oneself and rediscover aspects that may have been set aside.

💖 Create your own Human Design Chart at https://joyfuldvm.com/humandesign

Key Takeaways:

From the context, the key takeaways are:

1. Many veterinary professionals tend to primarily identify themselves by their credentials and occupational labels, leading to a disconnection from other aspects of their lives.

2. Sacrifices made during the academic journey to become a veterinary professional can result in a lack of balance and fulfillment in other areas of life.

3. A fulfilling life requires more than just a singular focus on one’s career.

4. Creating balance within one’s life is important to avoid overemphasis on the veterinary profession.

5. True balance and alignment come from understanding oneself and what matters most.

6. Each individual’s journey is unique, and there is no right or wrong answer.

7. It is acceptable to desire a different engagement with the veterinary profession and to seek out alternatives that align with personal values.

8. Reconnecting with one’s true self and embracing all aspects of life can make veterinary medicine easier and more enjoyable.

9. Exploring human design can assist veterinary professionals in understanding themselves better and rediscovering aspects that may have been set aside.



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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos.

Hi there. I’m Dr. Cari Wise, veterinarian, certified life coach and certified quantum human design specialist. If you are a veterinary professional looking to uplevel your life and your career, or maybe looking to go in an entirely new direction, then what I talk about here on the Joyful DVM podcast is absolutely for you. Let’s get started. Hello, my friends.

Welcome back to the joyful DVM podcast. Today I wanna spend a few minutes talking about the concept of identity. And I wanna start with a question. If somebody asked you to describe yourself, how would you respond? Many of us would jump in and start identifying ourselves by the credentials that we’ve earned. So probably as a veterinarian, a veterinary technician, veterinary assistant.

It’s interesting how we tend to jump to that occupational label as the first measure of our identity, the first description of our identity. But it’s that very thing that I believe actually causes us to become more and more disconnected from ourselves the longer that we are in this profession. I’d say that that is probably true no matter what the profession is, but it’s definitely something that I think is pretty prominent in veterinary medicine.

So let me explain why. As you know, you’ve spent a lot of time in academics to get where you are, particularly if you are a credentialed veterinary professional. You’ve been very focused on a particular career path for years and years and years. For most of us, anywhere from six to 12 years or more dedicated with this is the sole goal for all of our academic efforts.

And then eventually we get there and that’s great and we earn those credentials and then we get into the field. We start to be in the real world in this job that we have worked so hard to do, and all along the way, as we were so focused in our academics, we let a lot of the things of our lives that defined the rest of us kind of fall away.

Now, this wasn’t an intentional change. I think it was a short-term intentional change, but it was never meant to be a long-term intentional change. And so what I mean by that is this. These things that we sacrifice, these things that we let go, hobbies, relationships, other interests, these aspects of ourselves that we set aside in order to create more time and more focus on our academics so that we could then earn the credentials to get these jobs that we now have.

I don’t think that any of us in those early days, as we were intentionally deciding to set some of these things aside, I don’t think any of us intended for these things to stay gone. But what has happened for many of us in this profession, particularly those of us who would identify as really burned out, we can notice that those things never came back.

We can recognize that there isn’t any balance in our lives because our focus continues to be primarily on veterinary medicine and all the things that a career in veterinary medicine entails. This doesn’t make for a very fulfilling life though, does it? It’s very difficult to live as a human with only one thing as your focus, because that was never supposed to be the point.

So in veterinary medicine with all the things that come with this profession, the things that are stressful, the things that are sad, the emotional up and down that happens within any given day simply because of the nature of the work that we do, if this is the only focus in our lives, it’s no wonder that we tend to become really saddled with anxiety and we feel very disconnected from ourselves.

And we really believe that the only way to be happier is for our jobs to be easier or to be different, or to leave them altogether. And it’s simply because we’ve put entirely too much focus on the career itself and our role in it. We’ve forgotten that our identity is not actually just these credentials and this job that we now do. Our identity is so much more than that.

What I find is that the older I get, the more I crave all the different aspects of myself, the ability to experience life in all kinds of different ways. And in order to be able to do that, what I’ve had to do is learn how to create that balance in veterinary medicine. Because if we’re out of balance in any area of our lives,

it will then become the sole focus, and that’s not what I want for my life anymore. There were certainly years early in my career where I think that was completely appropriate as I was trying to figure out how to live and work as a veterinary professional those first three to five years. When you get outta school, you’re still learning. You’re still learning the practice of veterinary medicine.

You have the knowledge. There’s no doubt that you’re qualified, but it takes some time to really hone your craft as far as this profession goes. Then once you’ve done that, once you’ve really kind of found some ease and some confidence within the way that you participate in this career, that’s where it starts to get really interesting from a personal perspective. That’s when a lot of us start to really recognize what’s missing,

the things in our lives that we don’t have anymore. Maybe we’re missing out on relationships, maybe we’re missing out on spending our time doing things that are fun and joyful. Maybe we are missing out on hobbies that we used to partake in. It’s a little bit different for all of us, but what we tend to notice is that something is missing. But the thing is,

even though we notice this, many of us never take the steps to try to bring any of this back into balance. When we really start to realize how out of balance our lives are, we keep looking at the very thing that actually led us there. So we keep looking at these veterinary careers and trying to fix something within the veterinary careers themselves in order to create the balance again.

But we’re kind of missing the whole point. Balance is actually only possible when there is something to counterbalance the thing that’s so heavy. So just trying to manipulate the veterinary medicine in our experience of veterinary medicine isn’t going to be enough to create the whole life balance or alignment as I like to talk about it, that so many of us crave and we don’t even realize that that’s actually what’s missing.

It’s alignment, alignment with who we really are and the older that we get and the more that we really start to understand about ourselves, what we’re interested in, what we value, what we care about, how we wanna spend our time, how we wanna interact in the world. We can also start to see a stark contrast between the way that we behave and the way that we are at work versus the way that we are and want to be and other aspects of our lives.

For many of us, we might even conclude that we can’t be both. And so this identity crisis of starts of sorts, kind of begins to start. We were never supposed to all be the same. You’ve probably heard me say that before, that I just really feel like we need to talk about this again, that as veterinary professionals, we have something in common.

We have gone into a profession caring about animals and providing a service in regard to their medical care. But beyond that, we are all still very individual. So it’s beautiful that we have something in common, but that something in common was never supposed to be the pathway to making us all be alike. And this is something that I think is very important to intentionally remember.

If we don’t do that, if we don’t keep a firm grasp on the reality that we are not all supposed to be the same, then what happens in this profession as it does in so many different aspects of the world, is that we will measure ourselves and compare ourselves against other people in this profession. And somewhere along the way, we will identify the people who we believe are doing it right,

and we will hold ourselves to an expectation of being like them without even realizing that that’s what we’re doing. As we continue to measure ourselves against these people who we believe are doing it right, we’re going to identify and notice where we aren’t measuring up, where we aren’t meeting those expectations. And then a really scary and sad thing starts to happen. We start to doubt ourselves.

We start to be really critical of our own journey and our own paths, and we start to really believe that we should be different than we are. And if we were different, if we were smarter, if we worked harder, if we were better, whatever the different adjectives were that you would put there, that if we were these things that are different than what we are now,

that then we would be happy, my friends. That is not the path to happiness. This discontent that you might be feeling in your own life right now is not something that you have to solve by being better or working harder. It is solved by you really taking the time to understand who you are, what matters to you, what do you value,

and trying to really get in touch with how you wanna spend your time, the contributions that you wanna make in the world, what are the things that you enjoy the answers to all of these questions are vitally important for your individual journey. And in an and an identity crisis is what occurs when we are trying so hard to be something that we are not.

And even worse is when we believe that what we are, what we’ve noticed in our core, like what we are drawn to, if we believe that that’s not something that we should want or be, that really creates a lot of dissonance internally. What I wanna remind you today is there is no perfect way to be a human except for the way that you were created to be.

There’s only one you, and we need you to be who you are. Even if you are in veterinary medicine, we are not all supposed to be the same. We are not all supposed to approach this profession in the same way for crying out loud. It’s called the practice of veterinary medicine, which by definition tells us there is no perfect way to do this.

But interestingly enough, so many of us hold ourselves to a standard of perfection, and we look around at people in this profession who we admire and we believe that they are doing it right, which then leaves us doing it wrong. And I want you to just consider though as an alternative that maybe you’re not doing anything wrong at all, that maybe that discontent that you feel in your job is simply because you don’t have the right fit job yet.

Maybe you’re trying to fit in someplace where it’s not actually aligned with what you wanna focus on in your career and the things that you value and how you wanna work. It’s okay for you to want to engage in this career in a way that is different than the way you are right now. But if you don’t give yourself permission to seek out alternatives, then you will just continue to be frustrated by the awareness that where you are doesn’t fit where you want to be.

There’s so much opportunity here for us to change our veterinary experience by changing our perspective of it, and I will continue to encourage you to develop that skillset of changing your perspective to something that actually serves you. But I want you to also use that in conjunction with an understanding of what is right for you. What is it that you want in your lifetime?

What is it that you want to accomplish? What is it that you want to experience? How do you want to contribute? In the grand scheme of veterinary medicine as a whole? Those questions are individual to you, and there is no right or wrong answer. There’s just simply your answer for you, which is the perfect answer for you. If you don’t ever give yourself the opportunity to consider those questions,

then you will just continue to try to fit yourself into a position and into a role that you were never meant to fill. And that will be a very difficult way to try to create any kind of balance for yourself. So as you go through the next couple of weeks, I want you to just pay attention to what you enjoy, what lights you up,

what brings you happiness. I want you to notice where you’re having stress in your days where you’re having stress in relation to your work and into the rest of your life. I want you to ask yourself the question, do I feel fulfilled in this moment? Or does it feel like something’s missing? Have I sacrificed a part of my being in order to exist in the way that I’m currently existing in this profession and as a veterinary professional?

Because if that answer is yes, then my friends, you’ve got some work to do. You owe it to yourself to not hide behind this professional label that I know that you worked so hard to be able to earn. I know that you put in blood, sweat, and tears to be able to earn that credential and to do this job, but the trade off was never supposed to be the essence of who you are.

It’s both. You can have this credential and you can be fully who you are. And I think that many of us who are gonna be listening to this podcast are not allowing ourselves to do that. We are not allowing ourselves to both have that credential and work within it and also be the full expression of who we are as people in this lifetime. We don’t need you to be any different than you are,

and each and every one of us, we can get to this point where we have been so focused on this profession that we just don’t even remember who that is anymore, that it seems like a lifetime ago when we felt carefree, when we just really pursued things that interested us, when we believed that everything was going to be okay and everything was going to work out.

And I want you to just to consider that maybe the only reason you don’t believe those things anymore is simply because you’ve just put so much focus on your career and on your career path. It’s not that those things don’t exist, and it’s not that those things aren’t true, it’s that you just haven’t given them any time. And the way that you started out,

taking time away from those very important things wasn’t a malicious or or a nefarious reason. It was with for good reason in order to put the time and focus on your studies so that you could earn that credential. It’s what you wanted to do at the time, but I don’t think that you ever intended to never come back around to being able to experience the full scope of who you are and what you are about.

That’s the part I want you to explore. That’s the part that I want you to reconnect with, because when you do that, when you get back into alignment with the full capacity of your being, then everything gets easier. It’s so much easier to simply be who you are than to continue to try to be who you think you’re supposed to be. Those are two completely different things,

and we are not supposed to be like anybody else. I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but we are not supposed to be like everybody else. There is not one version of a human that is better than another. There’s only the person that you are at your core, at your essence, at your soul and spirit level. And if you don’t give that version of you any attention,

then the only path forward is to try to be something that you’re not. And that is gonna be a very difficult path if you are looking for balance and joy and alignment and open possibility for the future. So my friends, as you consider these things over the next few weeks, especially if you’re feeling really disconnected from yourself, I wanna offer you the opportunity to check out your own human design.

Many of us love personality assessments. We like to learn about ourselves through things like the Myers-Brigg and the DISC assessment and all kinds of things like that. And human design is a little bit different because it’s not really an assessment at all. It doesn’t require you to answer a whole bunch of questions that can be very subjective and leading to multiple answers. This human design thing is based on your birthday,

which means it’s really, there’s just kind of one outcome here. Your birthday, where you’re born, the day, the time of the year, those are the things that you need. And if you don’t know the time, find it on your birth certificate or put it in 12 noon and go from there. And when you run your own human design chart and you start to learn about yourself from that perspective,

what I find find is that it’s actually kind of like the super highway to get you back connected to so many pieces of you that you’ve probably set aside along the way. You can get your own free human design chart over@joyfuldvm.com slash Human design. And in the show notes, we will link it up there. But I would love it if you would jump over there,

run your free chart and start to explore again who you are at your essence and see how much of what you learn about yourself really resonates as true. And as you start to do that, I think you’ll start to remember the full scope of who you are and what you’re here to do in this lifetime. And as you start to embrace all aspects of your life again,

and you start to intentionally interact with all the things about you that make you who you are, I think you’re going to find that veterinary medicine actually gets easier in the process. All right, my friends, that’s gonna wrap it up for this time. I’ll see you soon. Bye for now.