The other day I met with a student who surprised me.
I was talking to this student about his major and his life plans, and in that way, our discussion seemed pretty normal.
But then things got more serious.
Even though he is a creative writing major and loves to write, the student confessed he has always dreamed of becoming a chef. I want as many creative writing majors in our program as possible, but I also want our students to be happy, so I encouraged him to do follow his dreams.
Once he had let out that secret, I knew others would come out as well.
And so I wasn't surprised when he kept talking, admitting then that he had planned to go to cooking school all along but had chickened out at the last minute because he was afraid of failing.
At that moment, my heart leapt out to him—because I know as well as anyone what's it like to let fear hold us back.
But then things got even more intense. The student revealed he also had a desire to become a nutritionist, that he wanted to help people learn how to eat well.
And that's when he said something I did not see coming.
He said that he was afraid no one would take him seriously if he became a nutritionist. He paused then, as if working up the courage to continue, and finally said, "Because of my body size."
I guess I should add that this student is a pretty big guy. He kind of reminds me of a pre-diet Peter Jackson: a big and scruffy teddy bear of a guy.
I should also add that he has a huge heart, and he almost always puts it all out there, sharing himself without fear of judgment. That's probably what led him to reveal all of this to me.
And that's why I was determined to tell him what he needed to hear: that he should do whatever he wanted and do it well and not worry for an iota of a second about people judging him or not taking him seriously. And that if he was good at what he did, no one would think twice about his girth.
I told him exactly what I believe: I told him he had to go for it.