Journeys and Dream Jobs

As a small, small child I remember being asked being asked what I want to be when I grow up and answering, “An opera singer and a farmer’s wife.” Of course, over time, my dreams changed. By age seven, I wanted to be a baker at my own bakery–it was going to be a really swanky little place, too. I wanted it to be the place where everyone would go on dates.

A few years later, though, my class did a science survey, and that is definitely what put me on the path I am on today. At age ten I was fascinated with the cell. I suddenly knew that I wanted to be a microbiologist and I wanted to study at UC Davis (all I knew was that it was a good school for science, and from that tender age, my heart was set on it). I wanted to cure cancer and make medicine. I wanted to help people.

Of course, I had my doubts. Even as a child, I was cynical about working for the government (corrupt) and private industry  (would any of my breakthroughs see the light of day if some company owned my research?). And I had it in my head that scientists were always on the clock because you never know when the newest development will take place. I wanted a steady schedule and weekends. If scientists didn’t get weekends, maybe science wasn’t for me. But still, I persevered because who knew–I certainly didn’t know everything about being a microbiologist (not by a long shot) and cells were cool stuff.

It wasn’t until I had finished my freshman year of high school that my dream changed again. See, somewhere in there, the career dream took the backseat and “I want to be skinny, thin, beautiful” started driving. By the end of the year, I had read every diet book in the library, been on a scary diet, and was working on the mental switch to pursue healthy rather than skinny. Not only that, but everyone else seemed to know exactly what they were going to do with their lives and I had this vague idea guided by  “microbiologist.”

At the end of the year, we were assigned this big research project–we needed to do lots of research from different sources, interview people, write an article, and write a 6 to 10 page paper, all practice for doing more research throughout high school and college. My project was called “What’s For Dinner? A look at what makes a really heathy diet,” spurred on having read French Women Don’t Get Fat and Real Food. As I wrote earlier this week, I interviewed a couple dietitians and one of them recommended What to Eat, and my was that interesting. I read a bunch of books, some influential (like In Defense of Food) to me and some no so much. It was all very interesting to the younger me, though.

After having read something on the order of thirty different diet books that all cherry pick biological information to illustrate how their diets work with the body, I had a pretty good handle on metabolism and how it worked. And this stuff was cool. I had so much research on how food could fix you–certainly not for everything, but for a number of diseases and illnesses, a change in diet could salvage your health and save your life.

I suddenly knew, again, what I wanted to be. A dietitian. Like the one who recommended books to me, except not at a hospital. A clinic maybe, or my own practice eventually. I eventually decided that I wanted to work with girls struggling with eating right, eating disorders, and disordered eating. I would still go to Davis since it had the best nutrition program in the state (at least to my mind) and study Clinical Nutrition instead of Microbiology. I would test to get my R.D. designation and help as many people as I could.

Now, a freshman in college, where am I on that goal?

I am not at Davis, but working towards transfer in Clinical Nutrition. I don’t have a single class in nutrition until I get to my higher division courses at Davis, but it’s alright since I am taking some very interesting prerequisites. Well, that and I am doing some research into nutrition on the side–I am working on this blog after all. I am trying to practice writing and researching for when I am a real dietitian.

I realized that I don’t have the nerves of steel to deal with the truly psychological problem of eating disorders through a semester in Intro to Psychology and by reading this book.  Instead, I am looking into maternal nutrition, child nutrition, and working as a general dietitian. I am even looking into nutrition research after a particularly interesting semester in Molecular Biology.

I am working toward my dream (even as it changes–just like I do) in the most tangible way possible–going to school on the one hand and writing about things I learn on the other–and I couldn’t be happier.

This post is a response to today’s Daily Prompt.

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