“2020, this is going to be my year!” We all heard it said, maybe even said it ourselves. There were many high hopes for 2020. My plan: graduate university, get a job and start making money after 5 years of studying. But like many of us, my plans went out the window pretty quickly once COVID hit. All of a sudden, I was graduated 5 weeks early (my internship placements were discontinued because of COVID), unemployed, and thrown into the job hunt. Turns out trying to start your career in the middle of a worldwide pandemic isn’t as easy as you’d wish.
Like any new grad, I started applying wherever I could. Coming out of university I feel like you’re told how to proceed after you graduate. Where to apply, how to apply, where you should work. Be prepared to take jobs that aren’t your ideal, are out of your comfort zone, are “just a stepping stone” to where you want to be. It’s not that I disagree with this at all, I fully recognize the value in different work experiences and getting yourself out there. But to be honest, I never quite felt like the typical dietitian role was my dream.
I LOVE parts of it, like learning about how our bodies are the most incredible machine and what they need, working with people, talking about relationship with food and all things surrounding food. But I never felt like I was made to fit the mould. As the months went on with little job opportunities, it was a rollercoaster of disappointment, doubt, confusion, hope, insecurity, and more disappointment.
I started to feel directionless, to feel a bit like a failure for not finding a job, like I knew many of my fellow nutrition graduates had. Was I just not good enough? What was I doing wrong? With a little more time on my hands, I started to experiment more in the kitchen. Yes, I got on the sourdough train and tried to perfect the art of sourdough bread baking (anyone else bake a brick accidentally?). Along with that, I took on homemade yogurt, granola and planting my own garden for the first time. As summer neared, we started to plan more camping, hiking and biking trips to the mountains. In previous years, we would always buy pre-made dehydrated food from camping stores to fuel our mountain adventures.
These were fun for a little while but after eating them a few weekends in a row, you realize the effects it has on your body due to the high amounts of sodium and preservatives. As we started to plan some backcountry hiking trips, I thought it might be fun to try and make my own camping food. I started dehydrating fruit leathers, apple slices, and my husband’s favorite, moose jerky. I then took on some more complex recipes, like burrito mix, chicken curry, and stir fry. Some worked out and some did not, but that’s all part of the learning process. Allowing yourself to fail, taking notes for improvement, and trying again.
The longer the job hunt went on with little to no response, the more space I gave myself to dream of the type of job I would want to work. I gave myself permission to let go of the expectations I had for myself, or that I felt I should have for myself regarding how to get a job in nutrition. I slowly started to let go of the feeling of failure for not landing a typical position as a dietitian and started to think about what brought me to this profession in the first place. I started to ask myself “why”.
Why was I doing this, why did I go through 5 years of schooling to feel like I was applying for jobs that I didn’t even want? What was my motivation behind all this? And once I started to answer these, I started to let myself dream of what that could actually look like. Now this is a scary place to be, especially when what you are dreaming of is something that is outside of the box. There is no blueprint for that. There is no plan or stepwise process that is given to you to follow. That can be very intimidating and easy to doubt yourself.
So, what does this journey of discovering myself have to do with dehydrated food? Well I believe this is my authentic steppingstone to pursuing my passion in nutrition. I love how food brings people together, I love that it brings joy and nourishment to our bodies, I love the process of growing, harvesting, and cooking food that is good for your body and the environment, I love to inspire and I love people who inspire, and I love all things outdoors! What does that look like as a job?
I’m not completely sure, honestly. I by no means have this figured out. I am still unemployed, still needing a source of financial stability, but this is me taking a step towards what I am passionate about and forging my own path. I truly believe we are all unique and have something unique to offer. I once heard someone say that the richest place on earth is a graveyard, because that’s where all unrealized potential and discarded dreams lay. I don’t want my dreams to die with me. I may fail with some of them, but I would rather go for it and fall than always wonder what if.