Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reflections: I'm glad I got hurt.

If you follow me on Instagram you probably noticed a lot of gardening related posts yesterday...and that is because we finally started the garden!

What a shocker that that's why I was posting about gardening, right?

I will write about that later, but this morning I did something that has made me pause and reflect on a lot of...stuff.

Just to forewarn you: There's a lot of that stuff coming in this post. It's gonna be a bit of a downer, but in a reflective way. And I really feel like I need to just get it out once and for all.

Let's get on with it, shall we?

I fell asleep very early yesterday (because of said gardening) and by 4:30 this morning I couldn't sleep anymore. I laid in bed for about an hour, then got up and decided to do something.

So I painted my nails. Bright yellow!

And then I sat down at my computer to do something I've been meaning to do for a while: go through the old, unpublished posts on this blog - save them to my computer, and delete the drafts.

Wow. I'm not sure I was ready for these emotions so early in the morning (it's not even 8am here).

If you're an old, old, old reader, you're probably aware that this blog address has existed since 2010. I wrote in it fairly consistently between June 2010 and April of 2011, and then I stopped. I had what I still believe was a good reason, and I'm glad I stopped at the time.

I converted all the posts to drafts at the time, and they've been sitting here since. Today I went through them.

And I realized today just how unhappy I was. I think the best way to describe it is: Limbo. Between June 2010 and, honestly, up until late 2013, my whole life felt uncertain. Like I was very precariously balanced and at any moment I could be pushed over.

And then I was.

In September 2013 I was diagnosed with a severe glenoid labral tear that required surgery, and I had no idea what to do. I just knew something had to change.

I'm really beating around the bush, so I'll get to it. Just know I've been kind of avoiding this because, as much as I know it's for the best, I feel like people will be disappointed in me for admitting to all of it. So here goes:

In 2010 I graduated college with a degree in History and I had absolutely no idea what to do. I feel like I fell into a trap a lot of people my age fall into: I felt the only solution was more school, instead of sucking it up and getting a job that had nothing to do with my degree. Afterall, that couldn't possibly be a solution!

First I considered law school, and then detoured to massage school so I would be able to earn a high hourly wage while in law school. At the time, I had zero idea of what it's like to pay back loans, and did not realize that it was in no way a practical solution. And then during massage school I realized I 100% did not want to go to law school, so I felt it didn't matter. I finished massage school and did the only logical thing - I got a job doing massage.

What went almost completely unmentioned - until I was a month away from graduating - is that massage is not a job you can do full time. I still remember the day one of my teachers told us this. In her words, "You can probably start out doing 20 hours a week, but for the health of your body you will need to scale that back by a fair amount after about 2 years."


I didn't know (or realize) it at the time, but many of my teachers in massage school either worked ridiculous hours at multiple jobs, owned and managed property, were supported by a spouse, or simply weren't making ends meet.

Yeah. I know that now.

I also know that quite a few of them had massage related injuries, despite teaching about the world's best body mechanics and self care. Hmm. Only a little bitter about that.

And further, what absolutely no massage therapist wants to admit publicly (I think because we feel we put ourselves in the situation) is that it is very easy to be taken advantage of by your employer, and that there is almost no room for advancement in the field.

I will say I really liked where I ended up working. Mostly. I could have done without the inter office politics, but I liked my fellow LMTs and I liked my patients. I did not like that I was technically working full time hours (that made it very difficult for me to get another job) and only getting paid for the time spent in the room with my patients. I won't go into the math legality of it, but I was at work 32 hours a week - full time in my state - and only being paid for 20 hours. And honestly, that was the max that my body could handle. This hourly situation also meant I was not eligible for benefits of any kind. No health insurance, life insurance, short term disability, paid time off, yada yada yada. None of it.

On top of that, I was barely making enough money. I could just about pay my bills and tuck a tiny bit into savings, and that was it. And I didn't like it.

I honestly felt very, very unfulfilled. I liked that I was helping people, and that was it - and I know now it's because I was in such a terrible headspace. I was working so hard both physically and mentally just to get through a day, and earning so little. And moreover, I felt (still feel) ashamed that I let myself be so ill informed about what I was getting into in the first place.

I wanted an out, but didn't know how to go about getting one.

And then I got hurt.

Preface to what I'm about to say: It sucks to tear a ligament. Don't do it. I don't even know how I did it, but I'm fairly certain it at least started as an overuse injury from doing massage. And though in some ways it was mildly horrifying to have no idea what would happen, looking back I can say I'm glad I got hurt.

It seems counter-intuitive, I know. But let me explain.

It put me through the ringer emotionally and physically, but it made me look for something else. I finally did what I should have done after graduating college: I looked for a desk job.

And after months of uncertainty and getting the run around from a few companies, after getting rejected: I found a different job. Almost exactly one year ago I got an offer, and I accepted it.

My job isn't the most exciting. It isn't some world-altering thing. Like with just about any job there are days I don't want to go in, days that are monotonous, days that are frustrating, and days that I'm really happy to walk away from at the end of. But I have not once wished that I didn't have this job. Because I remember what the alternative was.

I remember talking to my old (massage) manager about jiu jitsu a few months before my labral tear. I'd gotten a bunch of bruises in a class and he was worried about me getting too hurt to work (hah) and he said to me, "Do you really want your hobby to end your career?" And that was when I knew it...I would rather have a career that allowed me to enjoy my hobbies. And massage wasn't it. For one - I didn't make enough money. The other problem: I was always tired and hurting.

I realized, in that moment, that I wanted to make money and not hurt at the end of every day so I could enjoy all the things I really liked doing.

And that's the job I have now.

If I get hurt, I have short term disability. If I need to wear a cast to work, I can. If I'm on crutches: doesn't matter, I sit down all day anyways. If I want to buy plants for a garden or yarn for socks, I can afford them. If I want a few weeks off to go on vacation, I can now afford that vacation and I get paid while I'm gone. When I have a baby I will have health insurance, that child will have health insurance, and I will have paid maternity leave. I have a 401k, life insurance, and advancement opportunities. I have stability.

My paycheck, after money is taken out for all of these things (which I didn't get from massage) and for my savings, is more than I made doing massage.

I hope I never, ever take these things for granted.

And I know what it is like to be happy. I feel truly happy and loved and supported and accomplished for the first time in years. I feel like my life has a direction and a purpose, and I feel like I have some kind of grasp on my own happiness. Though I am not always chipper, I am content with my life now. I can look at the world and know that I will move on and forward within it. That I can face what comes at me, and moreover, that I can handle it.

I never would have said that in 2013.

My perspective has shifted entirely.

I know this post is a lot. But I needed to say it after reading all the stuff this morning. I needed to put down in writing this negative thing I've felt about my past and my selfish satisfaction that everything has changed.

But do you know what else I have now? Weekends on the weekend!

And I'm going to go enjoy the rest of mine :)


1 comment:

  1. Tamara Shazam12.4.15

    Thanks for sharing. :)