I’ve experienced what it’s like to follow a winding road of sorts in my career. At one point I thought it was going off into a ditch. I never planned to study communications and writing, and I never thought I would end up in the field of human dentistry. Of course, life rarely pans out exactly the way you imagine. But because I recently discovered I’m an INFJ, my particular path is starting to make a little more sense.
Towards the end of high school, when it was time to apply to college and decide what the rest of my working life would look like, the unfortunate truth was I had always assumed I would be a veterinarian. My connection with animals has always felt ethereal, a quality I couldn’t explain until I learned I was an INFJ. I think our characteristic ability to read others also applies to the animal world. I can usually understand them, and they me. When I make eye contact, I can see who they are inside, sense the being that resides there, and this applies to all species I’ve ever interacted with. When you say these things out loud to others, it makes you sound insane. So I usually keep that part to myself.
I wanted to work with animals, so becoming a vet seemed like the natural choice. However, this idea sat motionless in the back of my brain from then on, never to be developed further. I wasn’t sure what the process of veterinary school required exactly, but I figured it would work itself out. In the end, I lacked parental and financial support, and the whole idea felt too big, and it started to seem like something other people did. So I went to college, but I chose another career path.
Although I completed my bachelor’s degree, I struggled to find my niche in the workplace and found myself waiting for something better to come along. I continued to feel a gnawing, restless pain inside, an inner voice telling me I could do more, do better. Now that I understand my gifts, I am grateful for that voice – my intuition. It was looking out for me without me knowing it. I got lost in the weeds for a while, trying to scrape out a middle-class lifestyle working in jobs I hated, but my intuition steered me back towards a more meaningful existence. I was tired of not being seen for who I am and what I have to offer, and I knew there had to be more.
When I was 31, the voice asked, “Why don’t you go to vet school?” It was certainly not a new idea; I had considered graduate school before, but nothing seemed to fit. Vet school remained the entity that was beyond me, the thing I wasn’t good enough for. I was filled with trepidation when I pitched the idea to my husband, expecting him to laugh and give me a hundred completely valid reasons why this was ridiculous or at least impractical. Instead, because he’s an INTJ, he said it was a great financial investment, and he immediately began mapping out the logistics. He seemed to think it was a fantastic idea and something I was perfectly capable of. I’m not sure I could’ve believed in myself the way he did then.
This experience has affirmed the potency of my intuition, and what an advantage it can be if I hone it. All the time I had spent in jobs I thought were leading nowhere had actually given me an advantage in professional medicine. All the hard work I put into my undergraduate studies was now paying off – INFJs are exceptionally good at public relations. The weird thing is, I majored in public relations without really knowing anything about it.
I’m sure now that veterinary medicine has always been my calling, that my intuition was holding my place in line while the rest of me worked to figure some things out. Every decision that seemed random at the time now fits in somewhere, and I no longer believe in coincidence. Every interaction with a pet owner is a unique opportunity to use the tools I’ve acquired, including my intuition. I can feel the bond that clients have with their animals, and I sense their vulnerability when they look to their veterinarian to help them take care of their pets. The vast majority respond well to an empathetic ear who can listen and educate without condescension. And even though I went to vet school for the animals, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t secretly love helping their owners too. As an INFJ, I don’t think I can ask for more out of life.