Tuesday, June 15, 2010

End of a journey

I promise to finish writing about Greece next week but first I need to write about the most significant event in my life this year, probably in five years: today I passed the RD exam-- I am at last a Registered Dietitian. This is HUGE for me-- let me explain.

In 2002 I was going into my Senior year of college, waiting to hear if I had been accepted into the theater major at UCLA. What I really loved was not so much the acting, but musical theater. I went to see that year's musical and realized that even if I was accepted into the major, I would never be as strong of a singer as the students in the play-- they had studied intensively since they were freshmen, and while I have a perfectly nice voice I do not have that big capacity to "belt" necessary for musical theater. I was unhappy in LA, homesick for Seattle and not excited about the additional year it would take me to finish my already 5 years of undergrad to do the theater major-- I didn't want to audition for a living and the pressure of being judged on my looks was already pushing me toward disordered eating. I was getting pretty interested in nutrition and natural health at that time and I remember one of my acting teachers saying to the class-- if there is ANYTHING you can see yourself happy doing besides acting you should do it because this business is too hard. Before the results were posted for major admissions, I walked into the theater department office and told them I wanted to withdraw from consideration-- it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I finished undergrad as a Philosophy major, a major I had chosen merely because it was not impacted so I could increase the likelihood of transfer admission to UCLA. I spent a miserable year taking confusing and sometimes crazy upper division Philosophy classes and then the day after my last final we packed up and moved to Seattle.

I had to wait a year to reestablish residency to start taking prerequisites-- the only year of my life I have not been in school since I started kindergarten. I started taking prerequisite science courses, one at a time at night while working full time. It took me nearly three years to finish all of them and start graduate school full time. I can not tell you how many times I had meltdowns from the stress of studying chemistry in every spare second-- at least once a quarter I completely lost it.

The first two quarters at Bastyr nearly killed me-- not coming from a science background the intensity of having a full-time load of almost all science courses was a lot to deal with. The last quarter at Bastyr and the internship application process wounded my spirit (as I wrote about extensively) so deeply it took months to heal. The internship had it's own challenges, including having to move away from my husband for several months.

I had only one last hurdle, the RD exam. This is the national exam that proves to the American Dietetic Association dietitians are ready to practice-- without this exam no prospective employers would even talk to me.

After I passed the test I cried all the way home-- it is such an unbelievable relief, I almost can't comprehend it-- I don't ever have to take any exams ever again. I am DONE with formal school for the rest of my LIFE (if I want it to be anyway).

I am overwhelmed, and grateful and happy.

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