About a year ago, my time at UConn was about to be over like poof! I was nervous for graduation, stressed over what career to pursue post-college, and distraught to leave a community of educated, driven and innovative friends, students and professors. For three years, I worked tirelessly to learn the basic physiology of how the human body worked, how macronutrients were metabolized, issues holding diverse communities back from good nutrition, and in short, how food affected the human body. For three years I loved what my mind was learning. It was tough, exams sucked, finals were the bane of my existence, there were times I thought my brain was going to explode and a bunch of tomatoes, broccoli, kale, salmon, and olive oil was going to spill out onto the ground. There were many moments I sat at my desk, staring at my computer screen wondering when I could finally take a breath to reflect, slow down, and digest everything. All in all, I was strapped, but I loved it. The challenge, the grind, the pain, the exhaustion, it built me into the person I am today and exemplified the true power of my mind. Education is one thing I will never forget or take for granted, as it has opened up SO many doors for me.
In a million years I never imagined just how much I would evolve in one full year post-graduation. My spirit has seen hell yet experienced solitude and peace from time to time. I’ve learned fitting a corporate mold could never be my style and to delve into true nutrition and wellness doesn’t necessarily mean working in a clinical setting. A year before graduation, I thought I was a failure sitting in front of my advisor who told me to hold off on applying for a ridiculously expensive dietetic internship; as I was not competitive enough. I didn’t have a 4.0, perfect science grades, and I didn’t want to work in a hospital. Looking back, I was hurt more than ever to think this goal I had worked my ass off for did not call me when I had wanted it to. I had to work harder!? My previous degree revolving around food science apparently meant nothing? My six-plus years of working in restaurants, catering, and on farms meant nothing? My nutrition, health & wellness blog that I had passionately written and built up all throughout college meant nothing? I even followed the advice of gaining a year of diet aid experience to almost promise being matched to an internship and even that meant nothing?! The well-rounded, dedicated, passionate, and hard-working person I knew to be, all seemed to mean nothing. I felt I had given everything to this one goal; becoming a registered dietitian, and still, my all was not good enough. I was not being seen.
Today, I realize tacking on the “RDN” letters to the end of my name really would not fulfill me. And maybe all along, another path was calling – my view was just a bit too smudged to awaken me to something more. For years I thought a piece of paper and a degree would affirm a great salary, vacations I could afford, benefits I couldn’t live without, self-fulfillment, inspiration, and pride. I received the monetary portion of that last statement, but the spiritual portion not so much. I was miserable, unhappy, and to say the least, lost in the shuffle of figuring my shit out.
Over time, we all find ourselves in situations that feel right or wrong; depending on timing, our mindset, life’s circumstances, etc. But to stay in a situation of indifference, dormancy, and to become stagnant in life, emotion, romance, career, energy, and spirit is something I’ve never wanted any part of. Working with the elderly population, I know for a fact I’ll have plenty of years to be glued to a wheelchair, recliner, or couch if I so choose when I’m 80 something. These young years of enlightenment, inspiration, and unstoppable energy seriously has no bounds; so, don’t suffocate yourself. Don’t stay in situations your gut tells you are wrong. You can’t tame a wild mustang without first understanding how the beast thinks, feels, and experiences life. I believe, we are all wild mustangs yet we are all horse whisperers all at the same time. It takes knowing yourself, understanding each morsel of your mind, body, and spirit to balance a healthy relationship with YOU. Sure, things get out of balance sometimes, however, the way you react and the tactics you use to regain the balance is everything. Meditation has helped me a ton. I have met more wonderful people through yoga, wellness, and alternative nutrition avenues that have greatly influenced and sparked my ever-wandering mind and spirit. And I still have SO much to learn and grow into – its remarkable.
There’ve been multiple people who have cautioned me to tone it down, stay focused on one single thing, and do what everyone else is doing because that style “works.” Well, guess what, my free-spirited, inquisitive, and experimental style works too. I know this because, in such a short time, the momentum I’ve been able to build for myself, my life, my career path, and maybe something else has overtaken my entire embodiment and rewarded me in ways I have never experienced. In the midst of losing multiple things that I once thought were “everything,” I’ve connected deeper with ME than ever before. There are many mountains left to climb but at the end of the day here I am. And there you are. We’re all here just trying to figure it all out. Finally realizing, the meaning of life, is what you make of it. The possibilities are endless, the world is huge, there is SO much to discover and rediscover. Stay the path and let your spirit guide you. If you fall, get back up and try a new way. If you hit rock bottom, know there is still a blue sky right above you; you just have to look up and move from within.