{Why I chose Massage Therapy as a career}

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{Why I chose Massage Therapy as a career}

Why did I choose Massage Therapy as a career? I wish my answer involved some deep calling to the profession. Some grand reason that I felt deep in my core for starting this journey. Perhaps even some life altering experience that pushed me to help people and share a gift I wanted to cultivate. But all those would be lies.

My journey is anything but simplistic in nature. I took an aptitude test in high school and massage therapy was simply an option. Never having received a massage I chose this profession because of two ideals I was striving toward in my youth:

  1. I did not want to go back to school for a useless 4 year degree.
  2. I could travel the world and work almost anywhere.

Ironically, neither of these ideals ever came true. It actually took me three years to finish a one year program and I never got to travel and work in massage. Life is funny that way. However, it wasn’t until the last three years that I now have a better understanding of why I never got to accomplish either of those goals. My journey has taken me down a path I did not know was an option until I started walking it. What I have learned about massage itself and myself along this path is why I am still in a career that has spanned almost two decades. Perhaps that is also why I now have a better understanding of this profession and my role in it.

Our paths will always cross over but are our eyes really open?

When I started my career I had great intentions of making it big. I was and still am, a big picture thinker. I think big and I literally believe that you can have your cake and it eat it too. Unless you don’t eat cake like me. So I guess it’s have your steak and eat it too. Either way, details are not my forte. The day to day musings that most people partake in are not my best quality. I prefer to think in terms of the bigger and grander vision. The rest, I just blindly assume will figure itself out. Hence why I am perhaps still working the same career. Because I guess I forgot to add in the small details of how to grow a successful business and focused only on the big dream. Which neither have come to pass. Not yet at least.

During the last 17 years I have attempted many side hustles. These range from cake decorator to sonographer to soap maker and back to massage over a handful of times. It is a profession that I keep coming back to over and over again. No matter how many times I try and leave it behind I always end up back in the thick of it. For 15 years I never knew what this meant or why I was always drawn back into the same space. It’s not like I had a deep rooted desire to help people. Massage was just a means to an end. Until I finally realized it wasn’t.

When I first started analyzing all the options that have always presented themselves to me I discovered a pattern. A pattern that I had to look at much closer and exhume day by day. This was a painful process if I’m being honest. My desire to always learn about myself and my own purpose in life was the spark that lit the fire. Again, not by coincidence but by sheer will of the universe I am exactly where I need to be. And it is in this space that I can safely and comfortably begin to unravel the mystery that is my career as a massage therapist and why I chose it as a profession. Without actually knowing why I chose it in the first place. Hence why I believe it chose me.

The mystery that is my purpose

As I mentioned in the beginning I did not choose massage because of a deep desire to help others. In fact, for the first 15 years of my career I tried a variety of different venues to leave it. The reasons for my distaste in the profession created emotions for myself that I could never understand. I never understood why some days I felt alive with the notion that I was helping people. That I was actually helping them feel better. Whereas other days I could care less about doing the actual work and would intentionally make myself sick so I could avoid my clients. This I am not happy to admit to but here it is. The truth that I in fact would cancel appointments because I could not deal with people and their problems. That I was unable to have compassion for those in pain and only focused on the fact that I simply could not deal with them as they were. It was sometimes the idea of the type of conversation that would ensue once on my table. Sometimes it wasn’t even the conversation but the smell. Again I’m just being honest. And there are people who could use a good scrub before showing up for a session. All in all I never knew how to navigate these types of clients because I had no control of who ended up on my table. This was a lesson I would later learn in life and it wasn’t merely a lesson in just my profession but also one that would help in my personal life as well.

For years I struggled with how to approach clients with an open heart. To actually learn to disassociate the person from their pain. I became so fixated on the idea of the person and who they were that I could not see the pain they had. I could only see the obnoxious or foul mouthed and opinionated pompous ass on my table. And don’t roll your eyes at me. I know you’ve had these clients too. These were the clients that would take almost all your energy just to get through a session. Let alone a session once a month. It became a dread that I placed on myself because I created a story about them in my head and refused to see them in any other way. My ego would not allow anything else. Once that story was created it was all I could focus on. And as the saying goes, where your attention goes, energy flows.

Since I became so fixated on the person themselves I grew a distaste for my profession. It become quite evident throughout the years that I was perpetuating this distaste because now I became the victim in the story. Why me? Why did they choose me as their therapist? Why would they not just get the hint and not come back? Oh poor, poor me. I had to deal with them. I had to help them. I had to do this and do that and woah is me. Poor, poor me. Gross. I was creating and habitually nurturing my own suffering. Because it was easy. It was easy to think in terms of me as the victim. It was easy and I knew the pattern and was comfortable with it. Because I knew the story and how it went and how it ended. Until one day, I decided to change the narrative and the ending and my life completely changed.

Patterns are teachers too

It was through this pattern that I realized that it wasn’t the profession I disliked but my own self limiting beliefs around it. Back in 2018 I wrote a blog post tilted “Reasons to NOT be a Massage Therapist”. Since the writing of that post I have had a few other therapists reach out to me (I had no idea anyone actually read anything I wrote *blush*) and had thanked me for writing the truth about the profession. It was in fact the truth at the time. I had truthfully thought that massage therapy was a dead end career. And parts of me still hold that belief although I am uncovering more and more about why I could be wrong about that too. But at the time of that writing I could not see the forest for the trees. My eyes were blind because I only focused on the negative aspects and that cycle kept repeating itself.

Back in March of 2020 I lost my job. It was not until this pivotal moment in history that things started to unravel for me in ways I never thought possible. My awakening to the mind numbing matrix that has enslaved us for centuries woke in me a sleeping giant. A giant that I am slowly taking control over and learning to go with the flow and perceive my reality in a new light. Along with this comes the idea that my career is in fact a destiny that I am here to unfold. My time in this career has taught me many life lessons that not only impact my professional life but also my personal life. And conversely the lessons in my personal life impact my professional life. The balance here is marked by more than just coincidences. It is in this space that I have come to see that the patterns of my thinking around the profession that has kept me stuck. They have kept me in a loop that I was unwilling to break out of. But like all things, time will reveal more than just the truth. No matter how hard you try to swim upstream it’s easier to just let things go. And once I let things go, I came to understand that letting things go will make them easier to grasp.

Reasons to become a Massage Therapist

In my last blog post I listed reasons to not become a massage therapist. This time I want to list reasons to be a massage therapist. Although this list I’m sure will also change in the future but for now here are the reasons:

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit – if you’re like me you have a hard time listening to authority so this is a no brainer not to mention you are fully in control of your own schedule
  • Freedom to move – again my gypsy heart yearns for this and massage actually allows for the space to make this possible if you have a desire for it
  • Hands on experience far exceeds standard based learning – based on what I have come to learn about education I’m not one for spending years upon years or just learning and then the rest of your career paying off this debt from the years you spent learning, life is too short and is meant to be enjoyed not lived in perpetual cycle of paying it off to just live
  • Selfless and fulfilling – you never know how much of an impact you actually make until you learn to listen not just with your ears but with your hands
  • You can climb a ladder, it just doesn’t fit the normal societal ladder – there is a plethora of different modalities you can incorporate into this field and with that comes the freedom to move into different areas that can include teaching, consulting and opening up your own space should you want to venture into business ownership

For me personally the experiences I have gained in the last 18 years of this hands on therapy has shown up in more ways than I can count. I am always fascinated to see people in my practice that have never gotten relief before coming to see me. Once I stopped looking at myself as the victim and took on the role of mentor and leader my views changed with this profession. I also learned to take a back seat to my clients journeys and only show up as an observer. No longer forcing myself to heal anyone has left space for me to just be. With my ego taking a back seat I approach each client with more compassion and understanding. This has left me feeling more fulfilled with what I bring to the table. Once I stopped forcing outcomes on my clients thats when healing truly begins. Letting things flow makes them easier to grasp.

So what’s next?

I’m glad you asked! I am currently working on creating a course for others to learn from my years of making mistakes in this profession. Everything that was meant to destroy me only taught me to rise above it. All the years spent trying to escape a path only kept me coming back to what was always meant for me. In the course I am creating I hope to teach you how you too can gain a deeper understanding of your role in this profession. But also go deeper into creating a sustainable career that will leave you fulfilled and at peace with yourself. This is no easy task but I finally see the forest for the trees.

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Aneta Dang

Aneta Dang

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