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As a member of a small subset of the already small community of veterinary medicine, it was inevitable that I would end up in competition with a friend.

Before I begin, I want to make it clear I am not inherently competitive. I genuinely want everyone to be successful. In fact I personally loathe “competition for the sake of competition.” While this may sound like some kind of everyone-gets-a-ribbon soapbox, it’s not that. We all show up, give our all, and some will outshine and that is so, so fine! I am good hearted and trust – no, I hope that everyone else is as globally pro-success-minded, that we all want to cheer for one another as we, in turn, perform at our best in the moment. Some will “win,” some will “lose,” but we all win when we are supportive of one another. What goes around, comes around, so they say.

So back to my brush with competition… Lucky for me, when faced with this challenge of competition, this friend (and colleague) is of a similar mindset.

We were vying for the same faculty position in my home state, and on a sunny day, as I was talking with my dad who wanted to chat about a position at the local public radio station that might be good for my spouse (obviously he was assuming his genius daughter would be the clear top pick!), I have a call beep in. It’s my friend… and, I know.

I briskly ended my call with my father.

And as it happened this friend was the top pick. I was thrilled on the phone, congratulated them with every ounce of excitement I could muster from my state of pure shock. As I gathered myself to walk to any of my mentor’s offices, I felt a growing space in my heart. This space was where my future hopes were pinned and all my plans were dreamed and schemed.  Now, the space was empty.

There were twelve solid hours where I filled that space with tears. The tears came with the unraveling yarn we spun and the emotional charms we dangled so freely. When those tears were dried, and I had the emotional space to choose how to fill that void, I chose cheer. I chose excitement. I chose encouragement.

Not for a second would I wish for anything more than all the best for my friend. All the success in the world is easily celebrated, even the success of others, when you first honor yourself and the spaces filled with hurt and disappointment. Anger and resentment need not apply because there is no room for them!

How do you find yourself celebrating the success of others?

Tamara Hancock

Dr. Hancock is a board certified clinical pathologist who is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Education and a Graduate Fellow in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri. She is a 2008 #VLEAlum and previously served as a VLE facilitator from 2010 to 2013. She has been taking a hiatus from her active participation with VLI to focus her energies on finishing her dissertation while maintaining her well-being and savoring time with her energetic two year old.

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