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Why is it that an (almost) complete stranger can say something to you and you feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach?
Would you ever tell someone to their face (in public, when you hardly know them) that you think they have wasted their life (insert wasted time, education, opportunities or whatever)?
Well, that is what happened to me the other day.

It happened in front of a friend (who was incredulous, in a “jaw dropping” kind of way). Her face was priceless!

Here’s what happened.

My friend and I were happily shopping for an Hawaiian outfit to wear to a fancy dress fundraiser that night. I was stoked, having just found the perfect floral skirt and mismatched shirt with sequins. And the perfect shell necklace to go with it! All in the first 2 minutes in the shop.
I “bumped” into a woman whose dog I used to look after during my veterinary days. She was happy to see me (so it seemed).

“How are you? You’re looking well- relaxed in fact. Are you back working as a vet?”
[For those of you who don’t know me, I practiced as a country veterinarian for 11 years before taking a “sabbatical year” and never going back. That was 7 years ago.]

No. I never did go back to practicing as a vet, I say to her. And that’s when she drops the clanger.
“Well that was a complete waste, all that education. A total and complete waste. To just walk away and do what? Nothing really. Nothing at all!”
I glance at my friend, to see if she heard the lady. Her mouth is hanging open. She heard. I battle the embarassment.
“Nothing is ever a waste. We are a sum of all our education and experiences” I say graciously.

My friend clenches and unclenches her fists.

The lady moves on and we move away. My friend cant believe I could be so gracious and tells me so.

I have heard those comments many time before in the past 7 years. That wasn’t the first time. I have heard it disguised as concern, constructive feedback, ex clients lamenting their loss. There is always disappointment in their voice. But I have learnt that it is not about me- it is about them.
It doesn’t hurt anymore, because I am proud of my life and my choices and the path I have taken. I’m a career warrior!
Really they are paying me a backhanded compliment!
I must have been a bloody good vet to have evoked such passion in the owners of my ex patients! They miss me! (If only they could just say that from the heart). But here’s the thing- I don’t miss being a vet (there- I said it out loud).

Just a teeny bit, I miss saving lives. But that’s my ego speaking!