I am struggling to craft this blog post. It’s nearly 11pm on a Thursday night, 11/3/2016, and somehow I managed to throw together a 15 hour day just by creating blog posts and doing school work and hacking away at life (exercise, grocery shopping, roasting beets, getting in #10Kstepsaday, etc. etc.). I technically didn’t “work” in the traditional sense, and yet my hours were bloated with tasks and to-do’s.
It is now November and I have 4 classes left of my nutrition Master’s. I was scheduled to begin PA school in January, meaning I’d have to delay / defer something. Start PA school and have 2 semesters left of the nutrition Master’s from University of Western States after I finish, or don’t start PA school and finish the Master’s. If I chose the former, I’d begin in just two months, which in human speak is less than a swallow’s time (for anyone who knows the veracity and swiftness to which I eat (picture rabid animal who is also PMSing and wanting chocolate) you’ll know just how brief a swallow’s amount of time is).
I really had to sit down with myself and figure out if I was ready. The past few months have been a nightmare, honestly: continuing hospital hours for consistency in case I had another PA school interview, beginning a new job with a long commute and in a marketing space I had legitimately no experience in, trying to do classes in my spare time, and then lololol Instagraming three times a day, writing captions, and “blogging” (last word used loosely because the postings have essentially come to a grinding halt), and then trying to be a human and seeing my friends and my family.
PA school is the perfect option for me in terms of fitting into a career category. Not only do I love the analytical and problem solving aspect of medicine, it’s an esteemed and fulfilling path that I can really see myself loving and thriving under. Plus, I have always been one to value myself on academic accomplishments, and getting into school was ultimately that. In the fourth grade, I politely asked to skip a year because I was bored. And then received more work to do just for fun, but quickly became overwhelmed with the work but also kind of excited by it so just pushed through. Definitely sprinkles of too much pride somewhere in there too. I could have easily asked to forfeit the additional assignments on long division, but never did.
Ironically, this mentality has carried over into my 20s and has led to perhaps the longest division in thought process I have ever faced. My plan has been to get my nutrition master’s, go to PA school, and combine nutrition and medicine to advocate for thriving wellness and vitality rather than existence. So I got into PA school. And not just any school, the perfect school for me – the woman I interviewed with specialized and taught a class in preventative medicine, they have a class devoted entirely to nutrition, which is just completely unheard of in the scheme of western medicine didactics, they allow two elective rotations, it’s in my home state, and volunteer work is required, meaning I could continue with the volunteer work I already do.
And this is when I start to cry.
Because the thing I have worked hardest for – the ultimate goal of getting accepted into PA school – I have accomplished and I am choosing to decline.
I have been a tornado of hard work since the day I graduated college, precipitated by feeling like I had to redefine myself and figure it out on my own for the first time in my adult life. I was devastated from a gut-wrenching break up, felt utterly alone, lost and heartsick. Like a human surrounded by a blob of pudding – everything around me was sticky and viscous and navigating this period of my life just was not fun. The first years out of college were admittedly a dark time, one in which I went to my grandparents house for biweekly meltdowns. Nanny would ask if I wanted a “spritzah” in her endearing central MA accent. Not even Yellowtail merlot mixed with Sprite could soothe my sorrows.
At this time, I was taking prerequisite courses for PA school, and found comfort in just doing the work, no real creative or autonomous thinking. Academia has always been my pacifier, not because I am necessarily very smart, but I am gritty in that I know exactly what to do, and it is nice when success is uncomplicated, defined by a single letter.
But then I made a blog. And then I started posting pictures of lettuce. And then a friend redesigned the blog for me. And then I remembered my passion for nutrition. And then I connected nutrition to medicine. And then a whisper of purpose began to slither its way into my subconscious.
That whisper slowly grew to a resounding roar. The Instagram thing is funny to me because I was initially so embarrassed by it. I didn’t tell friends and when my grandmother would shout to her friends “MY GRANDDAUGHTER STARTED A BLOG. HAVE YOU SEEN IT?! LOOK!! I’LL SHOW YOU!! I’M SHOWING YOU!!” (all caps to designate voice volume) at my cousin’s elementary school play, my face would burn the blush of beets. I think maybe because I evolved to define worth and success by academia, job title, career, pay check etc. And Instagram is not that. Sometimes it feels vapid and stupid and like my entire world is dictated by the scrolling of thumbs. And that it is the cheapest form of intelligence, if a form of intelligence at all. My previous sense of self-worth (e.g. success / intelligence = good grades, good job, sturdy and stable future) had a really hard time adjusting. What’s worse is that I’m immediately swallowed into the millennial stereotype of always being on my phone. Plus, there’s so much judgement from older generations, especially from those who cannot or choose not to understand that it can be a form of valuable work. Or maybe that’s just projection from my own social constructs.
Whatever it is, these feelings of self-judgement are really just a waste of time. I was a writing minor in college with a burgeoning interest in nutrition, crafting almond flour biscotti on snow days with captions reading “I made these today because I thought they’d look bis-CUTE-ti. #BonApp(un)tit.” I adore jou de mots and twisting up language. I firmly believe in the power of plants to enhance health and mood. I am learning about the science behind the most current nutritional research and I have the ability and platform to translate it in a way that’s approachable, colorful, creative, and fun. I get to work with companies who bring incredible and life-changing health products to the market. And I’m able to weave chronic disease prevention and medicine into this platform. I am literally wading in a jacuzzi of my dreams right now. And I didn’t even realize it because I was just so damn blind and busy.
And this is when I start to cry. Again.
Life is terrifying when you feel like you don’t belong or you haven’t found purpose or identity or meaning. Or if you find those things in another person and then you no longer have that person. But then life is breathtakingly magnificent when you feel the spark of what you were put on this earth to do. I’m not entirely sure what my ultimate path is. But the one I’m on right now feels pretty fucking amazing.
Where I’m currently at: I wonder what it would be like to devote one-directional, meaningful, mindful energy to a single thing. Or to actually finish something without constantly wondering what is next on the horizon. To just be in it. So rather than continuing to wonder about it and regret it when I’m 65, I’m just gonna go for it and see what happens. I am tired of being so afraid of wondering. So for the next year, I am a blogger. And hopefully by July I am a certified nutritionist with a Master’s in Nutrition and a blogger. I can always reapply to PA school, and I won’t always have this platform to share such really cool information about nutrition. So that’s that.
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH
So anyways, back to normal human speak. If there’s any topic in nutrition you’re dying to know about or can’t find legitimate research on, PLEASE shoot me an email. I am inundated with the most cutting edge information every day through this Master’s program, and it is my sincere hope I can bring what’s relevant to a larger audience. I would love to hear from you and to bring both of our nutrition passions, passi?, to life. So don’t be (pa)ssi. Shy? End scene.
Hi Katie! This is Alisha Swanson. You may not remember me but I wrote to you a while back inquiring about your experience with UWS to which you so very sweetly responded with an enthusiastic email with nothing but kind words to say. I just wanted to reach out and say that your instagram account with its wonderfully cheesy and humorous puns was one of the first things that encouraged me to go down this path. Like you, I have always had a love for healthy living and also enjoy the problem solving, analytical component of medicine, but never knew what combining those two might look like as a fufilling career for me. Your Instagram page makes nutrition approachable and enjoyable and I just wanted to further encourage you to commit to this, because I believe it helped me to go after my passion, and that, as you mentioned, is certainly no small thing in this life. I hope you’ll be happy to know that I was just recently accepted into the human nutrition and functional medicine program and begin in the spring! I am 30 years old and for the first time in my life I am putting aside what path I “should” be doing and am heading down one that feels right (with a whopping smile on my face, might I add). So thank you! I wish you all the luck in the world in your coming adventures in this field as well. Keep making people smile and you will change the world more than you know.
Alisha – thank you SO much for this thoughtfully crafted message. I am so thrilled to hear you are also pursuing a similar path, as it has led me to such sincere happiness driven by passion. And even happier that you’ll be starting UWS this spring! And happiest that you took the time to write this all to me. Thank you so much for your support and please keep me posted how you like the program!!
Ha I didn’t even know you had a blog until I read your caption on IG. Whoops! I love posts like these. My favorite posts to write and read are the ones where you are authentic and get out everything that’s going on. It’s helped me so much in my own life and it always helps to read it from others. Life might not be going quite the way you anticipated, but regardless of the way you go I’m sure you will make it awesome 🙂
Yes, admittedly I oftentimes forget I have one too – that’s how often it goes neglected. But I’m so thrilled to get back into it with a little more time on my hands now. So much easier to devote new ideas to it when my brain isn’t inundated by decision making! Thanks so much for taking the time to read, Erin! Means so much!!
I read your your post at 3:34 in the morning as I took quite possibly my twentieth break from feverishly studying for a biology test. Despite my current circumstances of academic dismay, your post made me feel happy and reassured in a variety of ways but especially because it is so refreshing and honest. It takes a lot of courage to do what you are doing and I just want to say that you rock for following your heart (this is becoming curiously sentimental), and you shouldn’t look back. You obviously have a countless number of wonderful things going for you and don’t let the pressures of being perfect cast a shadow over that.
Anyways, keep kickin’ ass and enjoy everything! 🙂
Hi Beth! So don’t miss those hours in undergrad or the biology tests, when you just like am I even a human or just a slug (or a helminth lolol bio reference). I am so grateful for your words and that you took the time to write this in the maelstrom of chaos that was your study session last night. I wish you all the best and will remember your comment for a very long time. THANK YOU!
I have been following you on IG for awhile, but just stumbled upon your blog and read this post. I just started my blog and IG not too long ago and your story and account give me hope. Thank you for your authenticity and bravery!
I’d love to know more about your program at UWS, but I’ll poke around some more and come back if I have questions.
Thank you for all you’re doing to make the internet and IG a better and fun place!
Thanks, Kat!! Your words mean so much! Feel free to email me if you think of specific questions!
Ever since you committed to blogging and directing your energy towards it, I’ve been watching in awe at how you’re able to constantly churn out such great content! GOOD LUCK over the next year, ((less now)), I can’t wait to see what happens. I 100% relate on Instagram not feeling like a good use of your brain, but what you’re putting out takes talent, skill, and definitely brains. Keep it up Katie!
Hi Emily!! Thank you so so much for taking the time to read this! And I so appreciate the acknowledgment of the time I’ve dedicated to my blog lately. Again, thank you!! Means more than you know xo