When I was younger, I had great self-esteem. My 12-year old chubby self with frizzy, poufy hair, a crooked tooth, and thick red glasses that resembled Sally Jesse Raphael’s entered the Miss Maryland Pre-Teen beauty pageant because she had no doubts in her head that she would win. Of course I didn’t capture the crown, but that’s not the point of this story.
The point is that I used to have this energy, this zest for life that made me successful at pretty much everything I tried. I had good grades, I had great friends, I was talented, and I truly found life joyful and fun and easy. I knew I could accomplish anything I wanted. The world was mine for the taking.
Then I entered college. My first year was great – I joined every club I could, had a lead spot in chorus, ended with a 3.7 GPA, was one of 12 people selected to be inducted into Phi Theta Kappa; I was truly happy. Then I went through a bad break-up with a person whom I deeply loved and everything changed. I became this shell of a person who struggled with everything. I didn’t have any true friendships, I couldn’t attract “nice” boys, my grades suffered terribly, I considered dropping out of school, and I quickly slid into a dark depression that to this day hasn’t quite dissipated. (I am leaving out years of details here, but you get the picture.)
What the heck happened to that fun-loving girl who had a glow that would light up a room? How did I morph into this completely unrecognizable person?
I think the problem was I had started to be guided by my head and not my heart. I hated business. Truly hated it. And yet I stayed in this major because I believed all the voices telling me that it was a practical field to enter.
When my senior year came around, I was interviewing with companies like T. Rowe Price and Legg Mason. I was actually offered a pretty lucrative position with an executive head-hunting agency - and it scared me to death. I didn’t want to live that life. It didn’t feel like me. So I ran away to California for a year to do community service with AmeriCorps.
Sadly, though I had high hopes for a fresh start, nothing really healed there. When I came home, everything was exactly the same as I had left it. I continued to walk down the familiar path and make decisions based on practicality and not the yearnings of my soul.
So here’s my current truth: I have a life that looks good, but feels terrible. I understand why people have trouble believing that. I see how I can appear to be just overly dramatic. After all, I have a loving husband, a beautiful daughter, a nice house, a career as a budding research administrator – what else do I need?
The answer is simple: I need to feel more like me. The person I used to be. The person I was born to be.
In retrospect, I should have ignored the people who told me that music wasn’t a practical major. I should have followed my heart. I know it would have led me to expand into other areas I was equally passionate about – religion, psychology, wellness. But I can’t go back and change the path I grudgingly took.
What I CAN do is move forward from here. THAT is why massage therapy is so important to me. I may not make it my ultimate career, but I need to go there. I need to explore this desire that has been burning inside of me for over ten years. And if it leads me to new waters, so be it. This is where my heart is longing to start, and this is the direction in which I need to start walking.