putting a positive spin on being rejected

Rejection sucks, plain and simple. Nobody wants to feel it, but it’s inevitable at some point. Luckily on the other end of things, when one door closes another one tends to open in some shape or form. Run with it and don’t look back.

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This was a candid pic of me finding out our surf lessons in San Diego last month were going to be cancelled due to a strong rip current that day. Genuine look of disappointment was the perfect representation for this post. Ha. 

For this post to make sense, I need to back up and explain how a person becomes a Registered Dietitian (RD) or what the credential changed to more recently, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN.) An undergraduate degree with a verified Didactic Program in Dietetics is your first step. Typically during the spring semester of your senior year of undergrad you apply to an internship. This is the tricky part of becoming an RDN – a Dietetic Internship (DI) is not what you think of when you hear the word internship. It’s actually more schooling and you have to pay for it. The extra tricky part is that the standard programs accept you through a “match.” You apply online and rank your programs, they rank their applicants and if you are matched, you get accepted. You have 5 years from graduation to complete an internship before your undergrad coursework is no longer acceptable to apply.

To my knowledge everyone in my graduating dietetics class who applied got accepted except one girl who didn’t and ended up doing something else completely epic. I, on the other hand, decided to take a year off. I had proven to myself that working an average of 30 hours a week to support myself through school did not give me enough time and energy to focus on my grades. That’s how paying for an internship would be for me and it’s not recommended to work during one.

My plan was to get a job in a related field and just take one year off. As I have talked about in previous posts, I found a job at WIC where they happen to offer a PAID internship to 8 people working for WIC in the states of Maryland and Virginia. Our district has had an excellent history of our nutritionists getting accepted into the program so I was highly advised to forget about the match program and apply for this internship where I would be given my full salary and educational leave to complete the internship and be eligible to sit for the exam. No scenario could have been better for me with my circumstances. I had a gut feeling (or maybe it was just self doubt) the entire time that it wasn’t going to happen but I went with it anyway, supported and encouraged by my family, friends and coworkers the whole time. Unfortunately I did not get accepted – womp. Even though I had been carrying that negative feeling with me the entire time, it was still a pretty devastating blow. The majority of my peers have already completed their internships, sat for the exam and are working as Registered Dietitians. And I’m over here working as a nutritionist, no offense to any nutritionists out there. I love the field I’m in just desperately want to hold the credentials that allow me to be respected in my field and make a comfortable living for myself.

It’s difficult not to compare yourself to other people you graduated with and feel inferior for not having accomplished as much in the same time frame. Getting that letter of rejection crushed me and made me feel like I’m not good enough (because if I was I would have been accepted) and that I may have picked the wrong field. I always struggled with my grades in the science classes during undergrad and I wondered if maybe I’m just not smart enough. I was embarrassed to have to tell everyone who knew what I was working towards that I didn’t get accepted and that I’m still trying to figure out where to go from here. It was hard enough taking a year off and not immediately furthering my career because I want this for myself more than anything. I’ve been wondering why in the world I had all these roadblocks to moving to Charleston and then to staying in Ocean City. I moved back home which was difficult for my pride and the distance it put me from all of my friends but it helped my bank account immensely. I was hoping and praying with all I had that the direction I was being guided was going to be to this WIC internship but for now that’s not the case. I was forced to swallow that very bitter pill along with my pride.

I couldn’t just accept no as an answer so I asked the director what I could do to better my application in the future. I got a lot of very positive and encouraging feedback. Apparently the internship this year got an overwhelming number of applicants and I didn’t hold enough work or leadership experience compared to the ones who got accepted. I did, however, have very strong references and grades (a 3.1 isn’t strong to me but I’m certainly not going to argue with her on that!) Essentially I was half-way there. That helped a little and with the loving support and kind words I got from friends, family and my boyfriend, I’ve managed to live.

So here I am with another year ahead of me before I can start an internship if I’m accepted next year and that sucks. But we’ve covered the rejection and now I get to tell you about my other door that has opened!

Through one of my mom’s friends I got connected with a lady who owns a local Anytime Fitness. She wants me to teach classes to gym members and the community as well as offer one-on-one counseling to members. I’m going to get paid because people are coming to me for nutrition counseling. RDN or not, this is a dream come true for me and the perfect next step in building my skills, resume and networking within my community.

It’s possible that I’m feeling more positive because something so awesome has come through for me but either way this past month has been chock full of lessons and after house sitting for some family friends on vacation and playing farm girl all last week, (if you’re envisioning me with a terrified look as I try to feed, give water and collect eggs from chickens that make sounds similar to velociraptors – you’re spot on) I’ve got chickens on the brain. So don’t put all your eggs in one basket and don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Don’t let getting turned down make you feel like you aren’t good enough, period – it’s just that this (whatever you were dying to have) wasn’t right for you and the person or company or whatever it was. Work on what you need to do to better yourself and increase your chances of not be turned down next time – don’t ever give up!