For twenty years I worked in veterinary medicine. I was a registered veterinary technician, but spent the last ten years in management roles. Across the span of two decades I was employed by four hospitals including two general practices, one emergency hospital, and a referral specialty clinic. My career culminated with a corporate position in toxicology. I retired from the field of vet med four years ago. It was a good twenty years, but evolution was inevitable and it was time to move on.
To leave was an easy decision, though scary nonetheless. I was suffering clinical burn-out. It didn’t help when one day I received an impromptu lecture from one of my bosses. Demonstrating with the aid of hand gestures, he schooled me on his imaginary “levels of superiority” comparing me with the toxicologists employed there. He pointed out that I, as a veterinary technician person, was down here (insert insulting hand level at naval height) and the clinical toxicologists I was working with were up here (insert insulting hand level at clavicle height). I won’t go into the boring details of the conversation surrounding the lesson on inferiority—and I’m sure he had a noble reason for delivering it– but I bring it up because this is what’s on my mind today, which is the innate need in all of us to feel superior every now and then.
The truth is, throughout my years in vet med, I have met a few veterinarians who do feel superior to the veterinary nurse standing next to them. But I’ve also worked with board certified specialists who can hardly disguise their open contempt for the “idiot vets” who aren’t board certified. They, in turn, are scoffed at by another vet boarded in a superior branch of veterinary medicine. After all, anyone can be boarded in internal medicine (snort). It takes true brilliance to be boarded in surgery… Then an M.D. comes in and has surgery for his dog and poo-poos the surgeon’s instructions, because the M.D. believes he is a real doctor and knows better. The surgeon stalks up to his office mumbling obscenities.
This has nothing to do with veterinary medicine in general. The point is, in life, some cardiologists feel superior to internists. And some neurosurgeons say cardiology is child’s play. They could do a triple-bypass with their eyes closed. And the entire field of psychology is still referred to as psycho-babble by some. Within the field of psychology, there are behaviorists who claim that transpersonalists are wacko and there are transpersonalists who claim that behaviorists have no soul. Infighting be damned, anything to deflect the perceived disrespect of their own field by the medical establishment. Translate this to any work environment across the globe. None of us are immune.
But not everybody lives within the eternal cycle of judging others to mask their fear of being judged. There are countless others who feel comfortable enough in their own skin to remain focused on themselves. They’re confident enough to spend their life centered on the never-ending task of self-growth. They understand that whatever somebody chooses to do with their life is simply that- a choice. They don’t walk the earth finding excuses to adorn themselves with blue ribbons and gold medals. Others aren’t so confident, and they in turn spend life invalidating the next guy’s existence, because this by default validates their own.
Life should be a no-judgment zone, though our human egos make that incredibly difficult at times. We can curiously observe another person’s choices without painting their canvas with the color of our own perception. When we strive to focus inward, rather than outward, we find only one person to analyze– Ourselves. Then we can start to focus with laser clarity on our own choices and our own accomplishments.
Nobody knows you better than you. Nobody has the right to judge you. Superiority, inferiority… these are relative terms which mean nothing to anyone who understands that reality, as long as there is such a thing as individual perception, is an ever changing state. Our judgments of others do not provide a solid foundation for our own growth. In fact, they keep us small.