Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dream big.

Then go out and get it.

Even though I already had a degree, in 2006 I decided I wanted another one. Even though I was good at my job and loved being a teacher, it just wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to help diabetics. I wanted to teach them the things I wasn't taught - or the things I was taught but didn't really pay attention too.

Like Kim says, I wanted to tell all the diabetics of the world "You can do this."

So I did. It wasn't easy. While I always liked Chemistry and Biology in high school - partly because I had fantastic and enthusiastic teachers - they were never my strong point. I quit taking science classes after 3 years in high school. I quit math after two years. Dietetics is a Bachelor of Science degree. I struggled. A lot. I went to study classes and tutoring sessions. I wanted to quit. Holy crap, did I ever want to quit. I worked 3 jobs and went to school full time. I was making money and still putting myself deeper in to debt. As I struggled through my first science courses in 6 years, I was ready to leave it all behind me.

But I couldn't let it win. I was doing all this because I had diabetes, and I wanted to help people. If I quit, diabetes was going to win. And I just couldn't do that.

All through high school and my first 4 years of college, I maintained nearly a 4.0 GPA. After 3 years and two summers of non-stop courses, I graduated in 2009 with a degree in dietetics with my lowest GPA in educational history. No, it wasn't a bad GPA at all, but it wasn't something I was used to.

I applied to 5 dietetic internships absolutely positive I was getting in to my top choice (University of Iowa). I took the GRE and rocked it so I would be eligible to earn Master's credits during my internship. Match day came. And went. I stayed up until 2am to see which internship had accepted me. The website was smashed with everyone doing the same thing I was and crashed a couple times. No one accepted me.

I cried. And cried. Then I cried some more. How could I work so hard for 3 years, give up my summers, and work 3 jobs only to be left with nothing at the end of it all? I did everything right. Everything I was supposed to. Yet I ended up with a worthless degree. In dietetics, you can't practice - you can't even take the exam - without first completing the internship. I had nothing.

To gain dietetic experience while waiting for the next application period, I was hired full-time as a dietitian assistant at my (then) current job. Then I job shadowed at an endocrinology clinic on my days off. Once again, I was working 6 days a week and busting my ass because I had a dream. The next application period came, and I only applied to one internship. I put my heart and soul into the application letters and essay. I highlighted all my experiences, school work, dedication to the field, etc. Match day came and went again. Once again I wasn't accepted.

This time I didn't cry. I had no tears left. I had a dream, but it was slowly slipping away. How many more times would I pay outrageous application fees to have my dreams pushed back another few months in hopes I might be accepted. Almost a week after my second application denial, I got a phone call.

Someone declined their internship position, and they were offering it to me. What more could I say other than hell yes? I felt my dream light up again. I was a step closer. Almost there.

The next 6 months were the most intense and difficult I have ever been through. I am a well organized person and an excellent student. This internship tested every skill I had. I developed insomnia and stopped sleeping. My lack of sleep slipped in to wild mood swings, but I finished that internship with almost 100% on every assignment and test I submitted. I had top marks from my hospital preceptors. I had done it.

The following 3 months post-internship were spent panicking about the registration exam. I spent anywhere from 2-8 hours a day studying binders and memorizing flash cards. I had nightmares about test day. Once again, I stopped sleeping and slipped into panic-induced depression.

But, damnit, I passed that registration exam. I rocked the shit out of it. I don't ever remember having such an amazing feeling after taking an exam. Know what I did after I hugged that little piece of paper with a passing score? I went home and slept.

The next 4 months were full of disappointing job interviews. Nearly every position I applied for I got a call-back and an interview. None of the interviews seemed to go anywhere. Then, one horribly cold and snowy day in January, I was offered two part-time jobs in the same day. I took them both and started one right after the other. I had spent 13 months without pay and was finally ready to dig myself out of debt.

After all, I had a dream. I was another step closer. Just like any job, working your way into a specialty area takes time. I had my hopes set on my working my way in to a diabetes educator position in 5 years, that way I could start working towards my CDE (certification in diabetes education).

10 months after I started my first 2 positions as a dietitian, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime. I was offered the job I had been waiting for. I was offered a position as a diabetes educator at the Diabetes Center.

I dreamed big. And I did it. I got what I had worked my ass off for. This was the most glorious victory I had ever tasted. My final step in all the goals I set for myself has finally begun. I'm centimeters away from closing the book on all the candles I blew out, stars I wished on, and prayers I said to help me accomplish this. Centimeters. The last month I've been working as a diabetes educator and loving every minute of it. Teaching my patients how to do their best with their management of diabetes and hear them say to me, "I can do this," is the biggest satisfaction I've felt in a long time. By the end of their education, they know they're not alone. They know they can do this.

What am I talking about? I dreamed big. Then I went out and got it. What am I trying to tell you? You can do this. I'm telling you this because I know you can do this.

"I don't dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living." ~Steven Spielberg

5 comments:

  1. You are the mayor of Awesometown. I hope you know that. I am so proud of all you have done, and where you are going!

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  2. What a great inspirational post! You'll reach the stars :)

    I was wondering if you would you be interested in sharing your articles with other like- minded individuals to educate, inform and converse with those living with Diabetes.

    We are building an online community containing links to informative articles about the issues around Diabetes.

    If you are interested and want to learn more about this, please send an email to info@atomicreach.com

    Thanks,
    Anne

    ReplyDelete
  3. Forget mayor, you're like the QUEEN of Awesometown. I'm so inspired!!!

    ReplyDelete