Working a job that seems to have the opposite type of “personality” than us can be an opportunity for growth.
Your “un-job” might be something that—when mentioned to friends—is so unlikely it makes other people snort at the seeming impossibleness that you would enjoy it.
There is nothing about the me that interacts out in the world that comes across as a Zen, soft-spoken healer type. I’ve got truck driver mouth and I’m anal organizer down to a T. Many who spend more than a couple of minutes in my presence end up with serious concerns over whether I have a pair of Chinese throwing stars in my back pocket.
This is why no one, least of all me, would have bet 15 cents on my capacity or ability to be a massage therapist.
I had some great marketing skills cultivated in the restaurant business—not exactly a touchy-feely industry (unless you included the rampant short-term hook ups but that wouldn’t be a good model for a massage therapist).
After taking a hiatus to start a family, I was at the crossroads of no money and toddler town. I needed something that combined my love for making my own rules (I have authoritarian issues) and enabled a mom schedule—in other words, I figured that I’d soon be stuffing envelopes for online organizations or selling my famous chocolate cake outside the grocery store.
Instead, I was hit by a bolt of lightening waiting at a stop light in front of a spa, with my husband.
“Let’s get a massage.”
Neither of us having ever experienced a treatment, one of his eyebrows shoots up to the hairline. His response is further evidence.
“You’ll have to get in and out in less than two hours.”
Knowing the man as well as any woman knows another species, I suspect he may be thinking he can ride out the plan on the bar stool next door.
So I cut him off at the pass.
“Both of us, because no way in hell am I doing this alone.”
His face holds the stunned but curious look of a man whose mate has suddenly developed a new and possibly wondrous personality trait. I toss him one last stipulation as we enter the serene waiting room.
“If there is a guy and a girl therapist I get the girl.”
His face falls, any delusions of my being new and improved fading completely. Sighing in unison we timidly approach the receptionist. After coordinating my preferences, the twenty something girl who has no idea she’ll ever be as old as me, leads us to our rooms.
Quickly stripping down to big girl panties, I clamber up on the massage table so as to be covered neck to toe before anyone enters. This I complete at hyper speed since my bra needs to be wrapped up and out of site, yet not looking like an attempt to hide something. This skill has been mastered during doctor visits. The body worker enters when the musical cascade of flutes crescendos.
“Is this your first massage?”
My mumbled response slips out from beneath a crisp sheet clutched under my nose.
“Uh huh, how can you tell?”
She turns her back to answer while lighting a candle across the room.
“I don’t know, just a guess.”
It must be the panicky breathing. She continues quietly talking, settling the blanket around me.
“I love working with people new to massage. It’s up to me whether someone gets another treatment. I’m going to make sure this is something you want to do again.”
After her declaration she stops speaking. Within minutes my anal sphincter relaxes, the world outside floats away. Another unprecedented thought occurs. What a great job. No yelling or phones, just peaceful music.
I revelled in the new experience.
Shortly after that session, a college catalog arrived offering a certification for massage therapy. Other than my husband, every person who hears about my new plan to try it out laughs—and I’m not talking about a chuckle, I mean a flat out guffaw lasting several minutes, ending with one gasped out word:
Seeing the implausibility of what I’m undertaking, I busily endeavor to have reasons for learning how to rub oil on a stranger’s skin. I can work for myself. No one can tell me what to do. I’ll be the boss of everything.
Running a household with two young children has left me with very few social skills, though in a pinch I can imitate Tigger for some laughs. This should have been utilized when at the first practice session the youthful class drops their pants revealing thong underwear, leaving me to shuffle under the sheets in pup tent size granny panties.
When it’s my turn, I play massage therapist as though I’m going for an endurance test. It is shocking, squeamishly uncomfortable, bringing up an anxiety sweat that runs in rivulets down my face, cascading between my breasts, before pooling into my a** crease.
The running joke becomes that I’m providing hydro therapy when dew droplets splash on my partner’s back.
The first few months there are days the only thing dragging me to class is that by quitting I’ll make the chucklers right. After 18 months I manage to graduate (minus a few of quarts of body fluids).
I open a practice specializing in chronic pain, over time gaining new skills in CranioSacral Therapy and Visceral Manipulation. In the quiet space of each session, more of me wakes up from my normally rule-dominated existence. My grip on life softens as the taskmaster begins to wear away like a river stone washed by a centuries of ancient water.
The spontaneous redirection tossed me on a path going through unfamiliar territory. I see myself and the world with a changed perspective.
I’m a better wife, mother, friend.
I’m a better human being for having tried.
An unlikely occupation will change your everything. It will open windows in a tightly structured life, bringing light and possibility—even to a non-spa girl.
Author: Deb Lecos
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Wiki Commons