“Happiness depends upon ourselves” is a famous quote by Aristotle which becomes more true to me as I grow as a person and embark on my career journey. At one of the 8 sessions I attended at FNCE, the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics held in Nashville, TN in the beginning of October, the speaker, Amy Myrdal Miller, spoke about failure and success. She spoke about her experiences and journey in the field of dietetics and shared her recipe for success: focus, fortitude, fun, fitness, friends, fallacies, flexibility, fervor, friendliness, forgiveness, and faith. The path to success is never straight or easy. As a recent dietetics grad, yet to pass the CDR exam and unsure of exactly what I want to do is this field, her speech was inspiring. Many of the sessions I attended at FNCE left me overwhelmed, excited, and inspired.
As my first time at the conference, I was astonished to see so many Registered Dietitians and nutrition professionals that were here to learn, grow, and make changes to improve the health of our communities. As I listened to the speakers, I knew this was the right career for me, yet since graduation, I have felt overwhelmed from passing the exam to finding a job to pay back my student loans. My passion and determination led me to this career, but as I am nearing the end of my temporary position at the WIC program, I think to myself, what do I do now? What do I want to do? Mrs. Miller shared her mentor’s advice: “Say yes to everything, but especially the offers that scare you.” Any opportunities that I receive, I know I have to just go for it. Leaving home and starting a life for yourself is somewhat scary, yet I believe that’s how an individual grows. Mrs. Miller says, for new dietitians, they must be a volunteer leader to grow, develop, find new skills, and mentors by participating in local, state, or Academy groups. I hope to one day have the opportunity to become more involved in my profession. But I have also found this profession to be competitive, 10,000 registered dietitians, students, or nutrition professionals attended the conference which are most likely qualified for similar job positions as you. And as a soon to be new dietitian, it is not easy against dietitians with 10-20 years experience in the field. But how do you know without trying? You just have to risks and not be afraid of failure.
If I never tried long distance running, I would never have known I could run 26.2 miles. Since I began my running journey, my life long goal was to one day run a full marathon. But as I trained, putting in long runs, I didn’t know how tough I had to be. Long runs are exhausting and takes hours from your weekend. Many times during my long runs, I wondered if I could really do this and what if I failed? And to my surprise, many people during the race, walked or could not go on any longer. But I was determined, no matter how much my body ached. And as I crossed that finish line, filled with so much emotion from the physical pain my body felt and the joy of the accomplishment I only ever dreamed of, it was all worth it. And when my Mom asked me, “Would you do it again?” I never imagined my answer would be “Yes, if someone asked me to run with them.” The hardest part, was being self-motivated to run and at times was lonely. As in running and many other things in my life, I don’t wait for others, I decide to do something and I do it. But as I become older, I realize I want to share with someone these experiences. If you or someone you know is thinking about running a marathon for the first time, consider joining a running group or find a running partner. You will have support and companionship on long runs. And share healthy recipes and running tips. And most important, don’t be afraid to fail.
Job interviews are also nerve racking and you may feel like a success or failure. In my most recent job interview at a small, teaching hospital in PA, I realized even if I didn’t get the job, I wasn’t a failure. I felt confident about myself and used my strengths shine such as my passion for nutrition and my personality. The more interviews I go on, I become more confident and realize both parties are judging each other. And not getting a job you think you really want does not mean you are a failure, maybe it isn’t the right fit for you whether the employer or you realize that, or a better opportunity is coming. Each job interview I have, I learn something. As I walked out from the hospital, happy, yet discontent, an older gentleman walking out of the hospital in front me, sparked a conversation with me. He told me good luck and that I had a good personality, “you will go far one day.” In that moment, I realized, I would be successful one day and I just needed to find the right opportunity. And reminded me of the advice from Mrs. Miller’s lecture, if you have a great attitude and smile, you’ll make it.
And that leads me to the question of what does success mean to you? Currently, Strayer University is campaigning to redefine Webster’s dictionary of success: achieving wealth, respect, or fame. I never wanted to be famous, but I have always wanted to be successful. To me, being successful is accomplishing your personal goals and finding happiness which is very similar to the new definition of success. Sign the petition here: http://readdress-success.strayer.edu/