In two weeks I start graduate school. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be graduating from California State University Northridge in a few years* with an MS in Nutritional Science and all the classes I need to take the exam to become a registered dietitian. It’s exciting and a little scary, especially because I’ll be leaving my job as a personal chef to focus on school, which means a lot of belt-tightening and cable-canceling and frugal-meal-planning around here. So maybe it’s more than a little scary.
But mostly it’s exciting, because as Rob can attest, I spent many anguished years wondering what I wanted to do with my life, once I realized that a film school degree didn’t take me anywhere I wanted to go, and food writing was probably never going to pay the bills. I considered becoming a grant-writer, a post-production sound editor, an online English tutor. I thought about culinary school or an MFA in Creative Writing. Getting an internship always somehow sounded like a good idea. It never was.
And then one morning before work, browsing the job listings on Craigslist in search of a better life — totally normal and not depressing at all, you guys — I stumbled onto a listing for a job as the director of the kitchen at a women’s homeless shelter. The job combined cooking, teaching, healthy eating and helping people, which sounded like the kind of job I could describe to anyone I knew and and they would exclaim, “That’s perfect for you!” It was perfect for me. Except that I was completely unqualified. They wanted a registered dietitian or an applicant with equivalent experience.
What did it take to be a registered dietitian anyway?
Fifteen minutes of Googling later, a golden egg of an idea was hatching in my mind, and what emerged was so alive, so kicking and persistent and intense, there was no way to ignore it. I wanted to be a registered dietitian. I was going to go back to school. Starting immediately. I think I woke Rob up to tell him my revelation — I was already late for work, it didn’t matter — and he was hesitant, having witnessed other sudden, random career ideas before, but as supportive as ever. “That sounds great, honey. Just stick with it, okay?”
This from a man who has spent every day for over a decade working toward his dreams, even when it sometimes feels like he is being pushed two steps back for every step forward, even when almost anyone else in this world would have given up. Giving up is never an option. He is a man who knows about sticking with it.
And maybe some of it has rubbed off on me, because I’ve stuck with it since that cold January morning in 2010, through the harrowing process of trying to get into overfilled community college classes, the exhaustion of juggling two jobs and school, the loss of weekends or any kind of free time, the grumpiness, the bad teachers, the occasional tears. There were classes I gave up on (online chemistry? what was I thinking?), but never for a second did I think about giving up on the ultimate goal.
I stuck with it and now I’m here, still a long way from the finish, but also a long way from the start. I’m glad you’re here too. I don’t know exactly what’s in store for us, but I have a good feeling about it.
* Don’t ask me how many, please. It’s a little depressing, how many years it takes for someone with no science background to get a masters degree related to science.**
** Okay, fine. It will be at least four years if you count the year-long internship needed to become an RD. Sticking. With. It.