I am sitting in a classroom with eight other students wearing the royal blue shirt of a massage therapy student which will be my uniform for the next eight months.
I am a fifty year old female and a chiropractor, and I am returning to school in pursuit of a massage therapy certificate.
My classmates are displaced factory workers, day laborers and stay-at-home moms seeking to alter their lives, and in this way we are the same. However, educationally we are light years apart. Sitting in our first class – anatomy and physiology – the fear is palpable among my classmates. For me, sitting in this class is different. I have performed cadaver dissection, I have taken doctorate level courses in anatomy and physiology, and I have taught A&P off and on for the past seven years in two different massage programs. My concern resides in when to reveal this bit about myself to my peers as well as my instructors.
Having taught in massage programs, one of the important and natural developments among the students is that of camaraderie, and I foresee this being the challenge for me in this program. Too often once people find out that I am a chiropractor I become the information resource for all health matters. Parties aren’t as much fun for me as they used to be before I was a chiropractor because of this. I’ve spent entire social events explaining to people why their left (or right) butt cheeks hurt, and that’s not a lot of fun for me. Also, there is the intimidation that can accompany being highly knowledgeable, and my fear is that no one will want to work with me for fear of being judged.
At the age of fifty I wonder if I can still perform well in an academic setting. It has been many years since I sat through an extended class or for an exam. I wonder if that old test anxiety will rear its head and challenge me as it once did or if my aged neurons will fire with the necessary rapidity. I also know that massage is a different skill than chiropractic, and I wonder how well I will make this shift within my physical skill set. Actually, this is my greatest concern, and this is where my anxiety resides. Do I still have what it takes to learn something new and perform it well?
With any experience, but perhaps more so with educational endeavors, changing yourself in a meaningful way is the desired result. Chiropractic college changed me in ways I never expected, and those changes have served me well. I am a curious what changes I will see in myself as I move through this program, and I find this the most exciting potential. I know very well who Dr. Oliver is. What will Rebecca the massage therapist be like?
So on this first day of class, I open my book, take notes while the instructor lectures, and wonder how this process will alter and change me.Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net