Can a Fart Change a Life?

It was just another day in dental school.  Another test in the big lecture hall where we had most of our classes.  Total silence.  Then, like a balloon popping, it burst out of nowhere.

A very loud fart.

Then total silence again.  I flinched in my seat and stiffened up, visibly uncomfortable.  “Don’t look around,” I thought to myself.  “This is way too humiliating.”  Luckily, it wasn’t me that had to worry.  Nope, it was my neighbor.  I swear.  It happened during the first semester, and shortly after, she left dental school for good.  We always joked that she left out of embarrassment.  But we all knew it wasn’t the case.

A part of me admired her courage and honesty with herself.  The other part watched her go with disbelief.  How did she even know if she liked this or not when we’d barely discovered what it was all about?  But I guess it’s like finding the love of your life… when you know, you just know.

She obviously saw something that I didn’t see.  Sometimes it takes me longer to catch on and acknowledge my true feelings.  It stems from either loyalty, or a desire to give things a chance and see them through, or curiosity, or maybe even fear.  I’ve often times always stayed in situations for far too long when it has concerned my career.  It’s like being stuck in a bad relationship.

If you’ve managed to catch the 10 reasons I loved dental school and the 10 reasons I thought dental school sucked, you may have noticed that much of what I loved really had nothing to do with dentistry.  I loved the experiences with people and the excitement of doing something new.  And I realize now that I loved (and still love) being a student.  I love learning about new things, and I enjoy the setting that allows us to take the time to explore those things.

Most of what I hated in school was simply school-related and not necessarily about dentistry– or so I thought.  For a long time I was so busy living in the future, imagining how much better it was going to be, that I couldn’t notice the present.  As students, we always dreamed of how great it would be to get out– to work on our own and not have to get an instructor to check off every step of our work to give us a grade.  When I say everything, I mean everything; even down to making sure we had our chairs set up properly.  I understand some of those silly requirements now.  It was about discipline and routine and organization.  But it was a big hassle when 10 other people were trying to get the attention of the same teacher.  Waiting for the teacher for 15 minutes before you could even start the procedure just so he/she could make sure you plugged in your hand-piece correctly was a time suck and really slowed us down.

The upside of being sheltered from the imminent challenges of practicing in the real world went unnoticed.  While we couldn’t wait for the freedom and independence (and no more studying,) I think we took for granted the fact that we were under a sort of umbrella in dental school.  It was safe.  If we didn’t know how to answer something or respond to a situation, we had someone to give us the answers.  They all told us it would only get harder after graduation, but I’m not sure any of us believed it.  The things we didn’t like at the time, were many of the hassles we wouldn’t have to deal with in the “real world.”  It was a pretty short-sighted, but understandable viewpoint.

Maybe if I were the girl who farted that day, I’d be somewhere else, and she would still be a dentist.  Regardless of the path we chose, we both ended up out of dentistry.  It seems right for me that I stuck it out for so long.

I’d rather know than forever wonder if I chose the wrong path.

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36 Responses to Can a Fart Change a Life?

  1. lisa88871 says:

    that’s funny! the winds of change blew a bit late for you, huh?!

  2. Chris says:

    This is great food for thought….as I stare graduation straight in the face. The grass is always greener!

  3. Donna Guerrero says:

    Lmao

  4. Dr. Flatulant says:

    I was always (and still am) “The Farter”…just ask any of my classmates or my wife !!!

  5. Laura says:

    I’m not sure what this says about me, but the title of this post really caught my attention. :-)

  6. “The Girl Who Farted That Day” sounds like a forgotten Stieg Larrson novel.

  7. You are too funny. Love the ten reasons you hated dental school. So true. How about the final cement that the patient decides not to show up for and the only way to contact him is at a neighbors phone that no one answers

    • lolabees says:

      Thanks, Pam! I forgot that one. I will never get that. They pay all this money for work, and then they don’t come back to finish it. I had a guy who came to me with a mouth full of temp bridges that had totally rotted. He didn’t get it, and he was an MD!

      • Dr. Flatulant says:

        MDs and nurses are some of the worst dental patients. I always cringe when I see one on the schedule !!!

        • lolabees says:

          Agreed! MDs, especially, think they know everything! Ugh. The guy had severe perio and thought his bleeding gums were from taking Plavix. I could never convince him.

  8. Mina Mahrous says:

    This is true…and I’m like you on that…I get stuck on things for too long before finally deciding its time to quit! But then again its good coz when you quit you know the reasons you did so and you are sure to never regret it

  9. aFrankAngle says:

    The only post I have ever read about a fart in dental school. Well done!

  10. Eric Murtaugh says:

    Awesome headline. I think we should all start thinking in “maybe if I were the girl who farted that day, I’d be somewhere else…” philosophical terms.

    • lolabees says:

      Thanks, Eric! I do like my potty humor. And yes, farts can be really meaningful. I’ve already decided the title is way more exciting than the post itself!

  11. dinkerson says:

    What a bold title. It seems like you may be dropping some hints as to the true reason why you really left your career ;-)
    My son farted the other day, and he was sitting right behind a girl that he has a crush on. Based on his instant reaction and ongoing shame, I think he may need therapy.

    Also, really good follow up points.

    • lolabees says:

      You busted me! It’s that “I have a friend” thing showing up again. It’s just bad when it happens in quiet places like the classroom or a yoga class. Luckily it has never happened to me, but just one of my “friends.”

  12. I’m hoping she wouldn’t leave dental school over a fart. Everyone has to do it. She probably just decided she didn’t have the heart for dentistry. Yes, I would have laughed, because I am sometimes immature about bodily functions. It puzzles me when people get offended over a little fart, too. My best friend is like that. She hates farts, but then again, she also hates meat on the bone…

    • dinkerson says:

      Puzzling indeed, Amberr. Lol. Wouldn’t it be cool if bodily functions were were just accepted into the “who gives a damn” category? Kind of the same category as eating. And while we’re conveniently adding to that category, let’s also add staring at people whom we find interesting. I’m envious of my son’s freedom to do that! :-)

    • lolabees says:

      You are right, Amberr. She’d have a tough road ahead of her if that chased her out of the field. I love potty humor, so while I keep my composure, I like to have a good laugh over it later! Or how about couples who have never farted in front of each other? Puh-lease!

  13. Felicity says:

    lol. I ditched dental school after just one semester and a half, and my friends told me that some people upto now gossip and wonder why i left so fast. I could just imagine you were like my classmates wondering what was in my head. But you’re right, “it’s like finding the love of your life… when you know, you just know.”. Or to make it simpler, it is also like finding the right shoes, if it does not fit you or it makes you feel uncomfortable no matter how great it may look, throw it away and just find something that would suit you better. I did enjoyed the process though. I loved the hype and excitement of learning new things, practicing stuff with friends, making impressions,dentures and some more dental geekiness. But I can’t seem to find myself doing those stuff for another 3 decades or so. As Steve Jobs said, “Don’t settle.” I also read your 10 reasons I loved dental school, 10 reasons I thought dental school sucked and Why Dentistry?.. Hands down! lol. You got them all perfectly written. I think, like you, I went into that career to please others, but the more I see it now, you really have to please yourself first before anyone else in order to be really happy and fulfilled. But I never regretted that I tried entering that program because I got to meet awesome friends, enjoyed gross anatomy and the smell of formaldehyde stinking in your nose even after you shower and the parties! I salute you for shifting careers and i wish you best of luck and happiness with what you do now!

    P.S. I felt really connected with most of your dentistry related post. especially this one. I just got to tell you my story of farting. lol. Back when I was in high school, I farted while on a lecture. Luckily, it was not smelly and only two people heard it and as crazy as I was, I pretended beat boxing! Smart moves I daresay! lol. But I really didn’t know if I have convinced them well enough. :D

    • lolabees says:

      Felicity, I love your comment! Especially your fart story– beat boxing! Wish I could have been a fly on the wall that day. It’s so great to hear from someone who left D school so early. You were a lot quicker/smarter than I was. I commend you for your courage! I never would have left dental school– mostly out of fear. Amazing how so many people can feel the same thing. I bet if we took a bunch of other people in different careers, we would find we all feel/felt the same. It is reassuring to know that others can relate to what I have experienced. Thanks for reading and adding your story!

  14. DumbFunnery says:

    Wait a minute – the fear that I’m not doing what I should be doing with my life can go away?! But first I have to get over the fear that what I may want to do otherwise would be less good than what I’m currently doing … hmmm.

    I enjoyed the post! And now I’m curious about your transition period/why you switched/etc. So it looks like I’ll be blog-stalking you a bit!

    • lolabees says:

      Thanks, DumbFunnery! I ran across your blog today while doing a search, and I loved your post. Thanks for linking to my blog in it! Are you really contemplating the big change in your life?

      • DumbFunnery says:

        Of course! A friend of mine who is a dentist had posted your site on facebook.

        Oof, not really contemplating a career change … it’s just fun to visualize sometimes when work is beating me up. Someday maybe I’ll take a plunge and try and become a math teacher though.

        • lolabees says:

          Sounds like you have a backup plan just in case you burn out. I definitely don’t wish it on you though– while the results of change are fun, the process can be a rough ride at times.

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