As I began getting things ready for my move to Birmingham and my start at UAB, I had to take a minute to catch my breath. I was overwhelmed by the surrealness of the moment.
Four months earlier I desperately wanted to withdraw my application. Not because I decided dietetics wasn’t for me, nor was it because I didn’t want to complete a Dietetic Internship.
I wanted to withdraw my application because I was scared to death of the possible rejection I was facing. From the time I submitted my application on February 14th to finding out I got accepted at UAB on April 2nd, I was a nervous wreck. I must have told Preston at least 1,000 times that “the national match rate is LESS THAN 50%! There’s no way I’m getting in”.
Honestly, I was absolutely horrified each and every time I said those words out loud. I wanted to believe I would get in despite my predictions, part of me still had a glimmer of hope, but the larger part of me wanted to avoid any possible disappointment and just withdraw. I asked myself almost daily if I really wanted to be a Dietitian.
I tried to think of 800 different paths I could take to avoid this whole ordeal, but something inside just wouldn’t let go. Still, I faced everyday during those 2 months with severe anxiety over what was to come in the next few months. My whole life, it seemed, was resting on whether this worked out the way I planned or not.
My professors, friends, family, and classmates all looked at me, each mentally reviewing my resume, and wondered why I was freaking out. It seemed like I was a shew in for each of them. I had good work experience, decent extracurricular, several volunteer hours, an above average GRE score, and a GPA that could rival most.
But to me, it still seemed like everyone else was so much better in comparison to what I had to offer.
Four months later, as I sat corresponding with my Internship Director, I couldn’t help but think about all of the things in the past I’ve been scared to do, but pressed on anyways.
In sixth grade, I looked at Scott’s pre-algebra textbook and almost started crying. I didn’t think there was anyway I could ever understand all of that. I had never seen letters mixed with my math problems before?! But, 2 years later, there I was understanding pre-algebra everyday.
At the end of eighth grade, I was scared I wouldn’t be smart enough to handle high school. I was convinced the work load would be so heavy I would never keep up……. Four years later I graduated Valedictorian.
Senior year of high school our teachers told us all kinds of things to “prepare” us for college. Like how professors would never put notes on the board for us to copy (false). How we would have to write everything in pen for it to be accepted (this really messed with my OCD/perfectionism and I literally cried thinking about having to scribble out things everyday) (also false). And college would be intensely harder than high school ever was and we would probably not succeed in the same ways we did in high school (mostly false). Before I ever even started college, I truly believed I was going to flunk out. Yes, a high school Valedictorian worried sick about flunking out of college.
If you can’t tell, I’ve always had a small problem with imagining my “mole hill” challenges as Mt. Everest and deciding I will never be successful at making it through.
Luckily, I’ve had family and friends throughout my life that have refused to let me quit. So, with each challenge I faced with tears in my eyes, I would continue pressing through until the challenge was conquered. And each time, the challenge was, in fact, conquered.
This blue slide is a little thing called “The Kamikaze”. Every year that we went to Gulf Shores, from the time I was a tiny tot, we would go to Waterville, home of that blue slide.
For years, I would watch people come flying down this “free fall” slide and dream about going down it. But each year, I would start up the steps and decide my knees were shaking too bad for me to do it. “I’ll do it next year I promise” became my famous line. As each year came and passed, I was still waiting on “next year.”
Finally, I worked up enough courage to climb the steps to the top and wait my turn. As I walked to the edge of the slide and looked down, tears immediately filled my eyes. I had intense regret for what I had just decided to do, but I was also too shy to get up and make a spectacle of myself chickening out. So, I went with my only other option.
I clinched my teary eyes shut, took a deep breath, and let myself fall.
At the end of that slide, my only regret was that I had waited so long to try it out. It was terrifying the whole way, but it was exhilarating and insanely fun.
As I’ve gone through this application process for the next step in my career, I’ve started to look at the different opportunities I’ve been given in life the same way I look back at “The Kamikaze”.
I don’t want to realize one day that I spent half my life putting off the adventure of a lifetime because I was scared of what could happen. So I’ve made a commitment to myself to do more of saying “yes” when opportunities are thrown my way.
With every chance I get, I want to be able to climb those stairs and take that leap of faith. I have a feeling that a full life truly begins at the edge of that slide.
So keep climbing, friends, and get ready for adventure……….even if your knees shake.