Updated: Oct 23, 2019
This is my first post of something a long time coming. For years, I've not only been told that I should blog, but I have also felt such a strong urge to write and share all that I can in terms of passion and purpose through the journey of eating disorder recovery, body image restoration, mental health, and living an authentic life. There have been 2 main reasons that have been preventing me from going 'ALL IN' on writing, educating, and sharing my story. (1) The fact that I've thought blogging has been 'overdone', and how could I ever give back to the world in a way that is any different/unique compared to all those writing/blogging before me? [essentially feelings of inadequacy, comparison, and low self-worth]; (2) that if I actually put energy into this 'passion project', will I actually be successful at it? [again, low levels of self-worth/confidence]. Well essentially this has been a recurring theme in my life across all spectrums, not just blogging, but my entire life, and definitely my career.
Okay, so little back story. For those of you who don't know, I am almost a year into passing my RD (Registered Dietitian) final examination. Once I passed, about a month later I was presented with my absolute dream job, working in private practice alongside a highly credible therapist in Keller, TX, where I'd work with individuals in eating disorder recovery, those looking to break their relationships with the dieting cycle, and helping to restore positive body image across the spectrum. What an incredible opportunity, right? This is all I had dreamed of doing for 8+ years, and all the torturous years of school where I was scrutinized to remember chemical equations, understand statistical methods, and memorized medical nutrition terminology was going to all pay off, right? Well that's definitely what I thought. And I wasn't wrong. But let's clear something up, a life of being 'handed opportunities' is not the same as entering into the workforce, and pouring everything you have into your passion. Now when I say 'handed' opportunities, I don't mean 'entitled'. These things weren't necessarily handed over to me like a piece of cake. I mean that I had established a name for myself, where I was reliable, driven, educated, passionate, and overall a hard worker. So I was presented and given opportunities, as a student and worker, because of my work ethic. Also, consider the fact that this was in a state that was less populated then the one where I was from, and would be moving back to post graduation from my Master's degree program.
So in May of 2019 I took the 600+ mile adventure and moved back to Texas to start pursuing my passion, and embracing my personal and relatively unknown world of private practice. Upon my first few weeks back there was A LOT of transition. Lots of networking, lots of traction, little sleep, and no immediate client bookings. Although this is to be expected, I still had an unrealistic expectation that I would be at a full case load, and not having that was deflating for sure. And here's the REAL TRUTH that nobody warns you about when entering into private practice. It's extremely hard work, takes a lot of determination, persistence, and it's definitely not for the faint of heart. Nobody teaches you in your formal academic education that you have to know about marketing, that you have to know about business, and that your case load is not going to be consistent (sometimes it might be full and other times it might be barren). So knowing that all now, I'm able to generate a little more grace for myself, but I can ultimately say that I am still working on learning what it means to not judge my worth and value on my perceived appearance to others (professionals and clients) or on how successful I am (client case load, etc.) That's the hardest thing about private practice, ultimately. You are your own worst critic. You feel like you need to have X amount of people and ultimately be loved and admired by every, single person you ever meet, and frankly that's just not the case. With the thousands upon thousands of personalities within our world, you aren't going to be a match for everyone, and that includes other professionals and clients. That's why there is a NEED for EVERYONE who has a passion and heart for private practice. All of that aside, I will say that the eating disorder professional community in DFW is absolutely fantastic. They are so pure-hearted, intentional, loving, compassionate, supportive, and overall a fantastic community to be involved in. I'm grateful everyday for them.
So continuing on in this long-winded story, for the last 5+ months after having began with a very determined spirit to invest in myself and my private practice, I got lost. I began to lose all faith and confidence that I could be successful at private practice. I mean I had networked a bucket-load, and I wasn't gaining any traction. So my driven-mind then thought, okay, let's go corporate. So all of a sudden I lost my focus. I took all the energy I was giving my private practice and put it into pursuing a financially stable job that would make me feel 'comfortable'. Well, ultimately that journey was a bust. I spent hours tirelessly filling out applications for jobs that were minimally attached to my actual passion, in order to attain relatively few in-person interviews, and feel worse than ever about myself, as an individual, and where I was at in my career.
Finally I gave up!! And here we come full circle to my long-winded story. I had gotten rejected, felt inadequate, unqualified, and overall extremely deflated about myself for too long. These were all just lies, and when I actually looked at the BIG picture of my life, it's as if I was running away from my dream, my passion, my opportunity. I was knocking on doors that God was never intending on opening, and I was turning away from the one He had. I had to finally come to the conclusion that I was actually running away from my passion due to the fear that if I failed at that too I wouldn't know what to do. When that veil was lifted from my eyes I decided, just like blogging, to go ALL IN. I am determined to stop running from my potential, from my faith and confidence as a non-diet dietitian, as a dietitian fully committed to eating disorder care, and ultimately from my future in private practice.
So here we are. The end of this first blog post. I have a story to share. I have an unrelenting passion. I have made an active effort to educate, empower, and utilize my own story to provided others with hope. Not everyone will be able to see it, want to see it, or need to see it, but ultimately it doesn't make it any less powerful, any less needed, or any less relevant. So wherever you are mentally friends, remember that the thoughts and creative ideas you have within you are held back by your own fears of what could be. Take a chance. Make a bet on yourself that even if the journey is hard, even if the journey 'shakes you up a little bit', that the possibilities and limitless opportunities on how you make your mark on the world can drive you to a place within yourself that you never thought you could have made it to. The only thing holding you back is YOU.
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Tess M Patterson MS RD LD