By Jennifer Shaw, Guest Blogger and Austin Massage Therapist
One of the questions I get most about massage school is about how I got through it – like it was a terrible life crisis. My first response is to laugh and say off-the-cuff, “It wasn’t hard.” And it wasn’t. After all, we are talking about massage therapy for hours each day for months on end.
Massage school itself was easy – it was work, but it was good work. It was life that was hard.
Hope for Change
When I decided to go to massage school, I had reached a chapter in my life story that just begged for a major but nurturing change. I had a new baby, a three year-old and a chronically stressed-out, depressed husband. I also had a mortgage and car payment and was frustrated with how unsatisfied I was by my professional life.
I felt like I had to do something, but that it had to be the right something this time – not just something. “Something” before got me a bachelor’s degree I wasn’t using.
An esthetician friend just completed her internship and recommended I look into either esthetics or massage school. I had never had a professional massage, but having been a dancer, the idea of moving around a table to music while helping someone relax appealed to me. Who doesn’t want to make people feel good?
In the end it wasn’t the school or the curriculum or the low tuition that sold me on massage school – it was the hope for positive life change.
You Have to Want It
If you’ve been a smoker or a chronic overeater or a workaholic who has made a positive life change, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say you have to want it. You can’t be told to change and an external force can’t make you – not really. You have to want to quit, stop eating and go home to your family.
To get through massage school, you have to want to go to massage school.
When I was in massage school, every single person in my eleven-person class lost a family member. We grieved together. And when it got really hard, each of us remembered – sometimes as a group – why we left our “real jobs,” why we took out the school loan and why we weren’t going to quit. Because before was worse than now – and no one was massaging us every day then.
Change isn’t easy. Paying tuition isn’t easy. Learning the anatomical and physiological systems of the human body isn’t easy. Getting a massage is easy but giving one isn’t always a cakewalk. It’s work. And when life happens – a family member dies, you break up with your girlfriend, you make a major job change or get the flu – on top of massage school, it is straight up hard.
The “wanting it” factor is what gets you through.
I’ve come full circle in my massage school story. After I graduated, I built a part-time practice and eventually supplemented that income with a job in marketing for a massage school.
Eventually, the “real world” found me again, and my practice fell off. Now after several less-than-nurturing desk jobs, massage seems to be the answer again. The hope for change and the wanting it are flaring up in me again, and I’m turning back to massage.
Massage school isn’t for everyone – it’s for certain someones. It is for the someone who wants to change, who sees fulfillment and hope in making people feel good and who wants it enough to persevere in life while they are in school.
Is that someone you? If it is, I assure your massage school story will be one you remember. Good luck, someone.