There’s definitely an expectation in the world that after ALL that hard work and years and years of education, getting a job in your dream career is some amazing hunky dory utopia. Truth is, sometimes it really isn’t, and that’s okay.
*First thing first, disclaimer: I love my job and my profession! There’s so much more of Dietetics I want to sink my teeth into, but it’s totally okay to have bad days and some days not liking your job. We’re all human! Whilst my career is a huge part of my life, it’s not my entire life (believe it or not), so it’s good to establish boundaries and take a step back if your happiness and wider life starts to become affected. *
I’ve pretty much spent the last year pretty much dreaming of that last day of placement when I was FREE from all things student and I was able to go out into the big wide world working in my dream profession. I think any student is like that to be honest in their last few months of study… it’s so close but SO far.
Crazily, somehow July came around and I was signed off placement with flying colours and immediately went into my first ever job! I kinda just wanted to get stuck into working straight away, especially with money as I wanted to get a lot of things paid off/save money up. Quick decision for me, but I definitely did regret working so soon.
You definitely forget how draining being a student can be, especially with how much hard work you put in during placement. By the end of placement this had almost become the norm for me, so I was like aaaaay why not get working straight away. I think I pushed myself a bit too much there. I was seeing all my course mates enjoying their last summer holidays, pub gardens on a Wednesday and travelling around the globe. Me? Lugging wheelchair scales around half of Manchester in the torrential rain. Getting my car driven in to and scratched whilst it was parked up and I was seeing a patient. I know it’s all part of the job, but it just felt like a bit of an anticlimax. I was kicking myself that I didn’t give myself some time off on my last summer just to enjoy life. This year, I’ve barely seen my friends, my writing has taken a back seat and I even lost pleasure from cooking (I ate my first ever microwave meal this summer!! I’ve never had one before..). I just needed a reset really, and should have listened to my body, rather than feeling pressured to start straight away because it makes me look keen or hard working.
My advice, definitely take some time off first! Even if it’s just two weeks, you really do need time to reset after working so hard! I’m starting a new job soon and I’m allowing myself some time off this time, for the sake of my health and well-being. I’ll take a week without pay so I can get my head straight and get fresh into my new position, which I’m very excited about!
It’s no hidden fact to my readers that my physical health has been one big bummer to my time working as a Dietitian. As I’ve been told my SO many, “you can’t improve the health of others if you’re not in good health yourself”. I always put 100% in to my work, even when I’m feeling like death but there’s only SO far you can push yourself. My eczema flare up has gone out of hand and now affects my quality of life, it’s affected my self esteem and it takes SO much time out of my working week (I’ve got a whole blog post on this coming soon). I’d spend days working overtime because I was taking time out for therapy/GPS/specialists/blood tests – the lot. Whilst I’ve always commuted to work, commuting such a long way and THEN having the commute back to hospitals in your working day was tough. It wiped me right out to be honest. It’s a vicious circle. My health was making me stressed and the time needed for treatment was making me stressed and work was making me stressed but stress makes my eczema worse then BAM. I’ve never been a person to take time off sick unless I genuinely needed it (aka the time I smashed my face off a science stool and got bad concussion in 2012, what a throwback), but I’ve been off sick TWICE since starting this job. My immune system was pretty much flat out (which it still is). It’s really hard to enjoy your job when you’re feeling so rubbish to be honest. Luckily, my close team have been very understanding about my flare up and I’ve felt that I’ve been able to share how things have been, so they’re always checking in on me and if I’m in a lot of pain, they make sure things are in place (such as rescheduling visits when my skin literally splits in half). Basically, your team should be caring and I’m so lucky I had a bloody brilliant one in place. It’s a bit trickier when it gets higher up (figures and all that), but be honest with your occupational health team – they can put things in place for you to help.
And if you need to take time off. Take it! I literally felt like a new (ish) woman after being off sick – not only did I feel better but I made sure I was better before rushing back to work. Fully recuperate, fully rest, give your body the care it needs.
My old company had a service changeover earlier this month, meaning I was back working with the NHS, which is wonderful (I feel so happy to be contributing to such a needed service), however, I lost most of my team. Finding a workplace team to click with is one huge part of improving job satisfaction and for me, I NEED to be part of a team to help myself progress as a professional, but also for my own sanity!! Unfortunately, with the reshuffle, I got sent to a different base to my team. I still have contact with them, but it’s much more limited. Sounds cool having your own locality, own office, own set of keys, right? Not for me, I’m just not ready for that yet. It puts a lot of pressure (and stress) on me professionally and also lets my mind wonder… I go FaceTime my boyfriend and sometimes the dog most lunches just so I can see a friendly face!
It can be a lonely old place, healthcare. Especially when you see some tough old stuff, which we do a lot. It can be hard emotionally and just letting off steam and having a chat with your colleagues (confidentially, of course) really can help. I miss that, which was a major factor in my choice to leave my job.
I’ve found coming back to a wonderful community online really helps resonate why I started in the first place, and makes you feel a little less lonelier that you did feel. Hopefully with joining a wider team I’ll get that sense of teamwork back, which I’m really really excited for as I think it’ll really help me flourish!
In my goals for 2020, I’m wanting to be more proactive about LIFE to help with my mental health, improve my wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation. Stop saying no and saying ‘YES’ more (will be sitting down with good old mr Anxiety in the coming weeks to discuss), making more effort to see friends and family and just getting out in public again. Even if it’s just writing in a coffee shop like I used to, it’s still getting out there!
So yeah, basically, whilst having your career and all this “you’ve ever dreamed of” malarkey is great, it’s not always the happily ever after. Sometimes, yep, it’s a blip and you learn from it, you grow and you work out what makes you happy.
No job is ever worth sacrificing your happiness for. Make choices for the better of you!
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.