Why I Never Gave Up on Pursuing a Career in Dietetics

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I often talk about taking steps back when all we want to do is move forward. Why? Because I learned this important lesson in a hard way. Let me explain.

When I was younger and living in India, I attained my bachelor’s in food and nutrition and master’s in dietetics, worked as a lecturer in the food and nutrition department at Maharaja Sayaji Rao University and had started my doctorate degree. Then I got married and moved to the United States, landing in “the land of opportunity” with a mountain of dreams of pursuing my dietetics career as soon as I arrived. For six months, I attended Loma Linda University so that I would have a license to work in the States. Then, life made a turn and I had to take a step back.

My younger, 24-year-old brother called from Florida to tell me he’d been diagnosed with last-stage Hodgkin lymphoma. I was shocked at the news,completely shaken. At the time, I was his only family member in the U.S. and so I flew to Florida to care for him. My husband and I ultimately moved there so we could continue to help him. We did everything we could to save my brother, but he lost his battle with cancer after five years. For months, I was disturbed and couldn’t think of anything else, in denial that my brother was no longer in this world. Parallel to this emotional challenge was a financial one, and I needed to start working. For almost 10 more years, I went about fulfilling my family and financial obligations, thinking that I’d lost my dream of being a dietitian. After so much time, I didn’t have the courage to leave everything and follow my passion.

But one morning, after 15 long years, I woke up and said to myself, “Enough is enough.” Though it didn’t seem easy, all I could see in front of my eyes was “registered dietitian.” I gathered all my courage, resigned from my job and started taking steps to attain my dream. Life started to move forward again.

Now, when I get down, I think of this quote from Steve Jobs, spoken at a Stanford commencement address in 2005: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition — they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I went through a lot of challenges for 15 long years of my life. I am sure others can relate to challenges, as everyone has their own. But if you’re struggling with your dream, I urge you to get rid of negative thoughts and accept your challenges with optimism, perseverance, courage and dedication. 

Sheetal Parikh on Linkedin
Sheetal Parikh
Sheetal Parikh, MS, attends Keiser University-Lakeland and was recently named Florida's 2017 Outstanding Student at the Florida Nutrition and Dietetics yearly symposium. Connect with her on LinkedIn.