When You Can’t Hide Behind Your Disease

This month marks my one year anniversary of having a blog! How exciting. I consider this a pretty big accomplishment, actually. I wanted to be able to post something new each month, but as you can see, this will be my first post since August. The reason behind this is that it’s my senior year in college and I’m trying to graduate people. So, I guess I’ll get things started by telling you how my last Fall semester as an undergraduate has been going.

It’s been a crazy few months. It’s hard to believe that all of my professors somehow schedule their tests/projects/case studies/papers to be due all in the same week, but somehow they made this happen. Every time. So it’s been stressful. With stress, for me, comes constant anxiety. I worry consistently. I cry a lot. However, there’s also a lot of praying involved, thankfully. If it wasn’t for my community, I probably would have had several emotional breakdowns by this point.

Anyway, something that has caused a lot of stress for me recently is my dietetic internship application. Yes, it’s finally that time. The application is due in February and I will be matched (hopefully) with an internship in April. Wow. So soon. The past few months, I’ve been taking a class that was designed to help dietetic students specifically with their internship application. It’s been really nice and super helpful. However, now that the semester is drawing to an end, it’s strange to think that it’s all up to me now. It’s scary!

So for each internship that we apply to (I’m applying to five to increase my chances of getting matched), we have to submit a personal statement. In this personal statement, we have to utilize 1-2 pages highlighting our accomplishments, skills, strengths, and anything that makes us unique as a dietetic student. As a junior, I spent all of last year thinking about what I would put in my statement as my senior friends were applying to internships. I knew I would be putting something about cystic fibrosis being one of my passions and how CF was one of the factors that led me to choosing nutrition as my major. However, I didn’t expect to be told by my professor that I was not allowed to put anything about having a disease in my personal statement. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” was the only thing that went through my mind. I was mad. You may be wondering why this isn’t allowed. According to my professor, it is unwise to tell an internship selection committee that you have a disease that could potentially cause you to not finish your internship. So even though I have done really well with having CF and I rarely ever miss a day of class/work, it is just not a good idea. But I was still upset! CF was the one thing that made me unique to the internship selection committee (or so I thought)! How could I explain to them my passion for nutrition and CF patients if I couldn’t tell them how CF has affected me?! I was worried. I had lots of feelings, actually.

I went home that day trying to think of some way that I could put CF in my personal statement, but I came up with nothing. Then I was reminded of something. CF is not my identity. It isn’t what makes me unique, and it certainly won’t make me a better dietitian. Sure, it’s provided me with a passion and an interest in nutrition, and for that I am thankful. But I cannot depend on my disease to get me an internship or to make me a successful RD. Let me tell you, when those thoughts crossed my mind, my perspective changed a little, and I was grateful that I wasn’t allowed to list my personal association with CF in my letter. I focused mainly on what my work experiences in the hospital and food service industry had taught me, and what I thought characteristics of a good dietitian were. Of course, I mentioned that I had a “family member” with cystic fibrosis, as well as a few other chronic illnesses that affect our nutrition world (shout out to my mom and dad for helping me immensely with my letter!!). I made sure to mention that my passion is with CF patients and I described how I wanted to work with them in the future.

So yes, CF is a part of me. But it’s not my mask. I can’t wear it to cover up who I really am. To the internship selection committee, I am Jordan Scott from Lubbock, TX who is desperate for an internship because I have a desire to prevent diseases and aid those who need my help as an RD. I am not Jordan with cystic fibrosis. I have to be just me, without the CF mask. Slowly but surely, the Lord is teaching me that I can’t hide behind my disease.

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