my post-bacc is years behind me (I’m realizing as I write
this that I began it in 2010, which is nuts), it’s very easy to
tell an elegant story of adversity being channeled into growth, or
about the benefits of experiencing rejection. I’ve been aware for
a long time that I was probably spared a life that wouldn’t have
been right for me when I didn’t get into medical school, but the
passage of time has made it easy to forget how painful the loss of
that dream felt when it first happened.
Over the last 11 weeks, I’ve had the interesting experience of
getting a taste of the path not taken. I’m not doing medicine,
per se, but I’m doing the kind of dietetic work that’s as
clinical as it gets. Much of what I love about it—problem
solving, the detective work of exploring a patient’s history, the
intellectual challenge of establishing a problem and then finding
my way to a suitable intervention—aligns with what I think I’d
have loved about medicine.
The lifestyle, though, isn’t a fit. Maybe I’m saying this
because it’s the first weekend since the DI started in which I
feel genuinely and completely burnt out, but I don’t think
that’s the whole story. Oftentimes when I’m at work I feel
interested, or even exhilarated, by what I’m doing. Yet it always
feels as though I’m living somebody else’s life, doing someone
else’s job, and I don’t think that has anything to do with my
status as an intern. I think it’s because a part of me is
strongly lit up, but too many other parts are dormant.
I miss creative work. I miss cooking with intellectual and
artistic engagement, rather than trying to rush through my meal
prep over the weekends simply for the sake of being fed. I miss
having a little fun with food photography, which at the moment
feels more formulaic and dutiful than enjoyable. I miss reading
cookbooks and food blogs and recipes for inspiration; I miss
writing about food from my heart and soul, rather than recapping
what I’ve recently made and eaten.
I miss having a little unstructured time built into my days.
Much as it’s been good for me to have a set schedule and
structure in my life (so much that I’m already pondering how to
have more of it next year), I’m not a person who’s capable of
go-go-going. I’m too sensitive, too prone to burnout and
For a long time I accepted this while also wishing that I were
more of a doer. The more time I spend in the DI, the less I
idealize being able to work/do/accomplish nonstop. This, actually,
is a huge gift: for the first time in my life I’m craving
stillness not because I’ve tired myself out or gotten overly
anxious, but because I’d very honestly rather have less to do
Each weekend, I tell myself it’ll be easy to catch up on
blogging and writing, along with errands and my DI class and other
responsibilities. It isn’t—of course it isn’t. Blogging is my
job. Thinking about and creating food isn’t just how I love to
spend my time: it’s what I do professionally. For so many years
I’ve had a hard time owning food/nutrition writing as my career;
I’m constantly disclaiming that I’m also in grad school, also
making my way into healthcare, also a former editor. The fact that
it’s been so difficult for me to embrace a creative life has
everything to do with my own insecurities and fears about charting
an unmapped course for myself, rather than hewing to a clearly
As I noted a few weeks ago, the DI is teaching me a lot about
trust in my own judgment. It’s also helping me to clarify
some of my priorities as a person and a professional. I’m
settling into the clinical work more ably than I expected to, which
has been affirming. How surprised I’ve been, though, to realize
that excelling in the ways I always hoped I could doesn’t
entirely feed me.
Life never stops taking me by surprise, nor does it ever stop
encouraging me to explore my hungers and the things that satisfy
them. I’m writing this post from my sofa, draped in a blanket and
feeling let down by all of the stuff I though I’d have energy to
do this weekend and didn’t. But I’m clearer than I have been in
a long time about what makes me tick. This is a gift, even if I
won’t be able to act on it until after the DI is behind me.
Wishing you a week that makes you tick, even in the smallest of
ways. Happy Sunday, and here are some recipes and reads.
Thanksgiving may be over, but that’s not gonna stop me from
making Cadry’s adorable vegan
Ditto for Tamsin’s creamy
…and I’ll top it all with some of Marly’s vegan gravy!
Switching away from Thanksgiving fare, I’m loving Jess’
recipe for vegan stuffed
Finally, it’s been a while since I made homemade falafel, and
Steven’s baked jalapeno
falafel would be a perfect recipe to try.
1. I’m late to the party on this post, but so glad I found it,
via Cup of Jo: 10 wise comments on breakups.
2. These tips on
navigating Thanksgiving while in recovery could easily apply to
the entire holiday season.
3. Kathryn Schulz’s terrifying, nuanced reporting on an
earthquake that is supposed to hit the Northwest—though
we’re not sure when.
4. Speaking of stillness/free time—and because the article
title along is worth sharing—the
profound pleasure of puttering.
This article, via the New York Times, echoes a lot of my own
feelings about probiotics: helpful in particular instances (such as
a bad bout of traveler’s diarrhea), but until we know more about
how they work, there’s not a strong case for routine
OK, friends. This sleepy DI student is off to take care of what
needs doing before week 12 begins. Sending love.
Source: FS – All – Food and Nutrition Blogs
Weekend Reading, 11.25.18