I get asked all the time “why did you become a massage therapist?” and “what drew you to this career choice?” As with most things in life, there is a simple answer and a more in-depth answer to these questions. Simply put, because I love massages! Also, I love helping people and I have always been a tactile person. Put those three things together and you get a massage therapist.
In order for me to truly answer the above questions, I would have to talk about my life growing up; my upbringing, my experiences, where I have been and where I want to go, but that would be a whole autobiography! So, without going into my full life history in detail, I will just give you the summarized version of why and what lead me to become a massage therapist.
First, I grew up in a tactile family. We are all huggers, love a good back scratch, and enjoy shoulder rubs. They feel good and there is something to be said by these nonverbal actions that convey love, caring, strength, understanding, comfort, and wellness. I learned from an early age that the power of touch has strong healing capabilities. It can soothe the body and soul. It can calm the mind. As I got older and dancing became my sport of choice, I realized that massages can also help reduce sore muscles and increase recovery time. I found myself frequently massaging my own feet and calves between practices and competitions.
I then went down to Eugene and attended University of Oregon to get my four year bachelor’s degree. During that time, I found myself asking for massage gift certificates for every Christmas and birthday. I found massages to be a great way to relieve stress and tension, especially after finishing taking all those finals. I soon noticed that my friends would often have me give them shoulder and back massages, as well as neck and scalp massages. I am not sure how that happened, but I enjoyed giving them! That’s when I first started to think about becoming a massage therapist, in college.
Needless to say, I stuck to my course and completed my four years and got my college degree. Then, as with most twenty-something year olds, I worked various jobs after college, from retail, to non-profits, to working for a major health insurance company. I loved the structured, organized daily tasks to complete and the steady pay checks. I didn’t, however, like being cooped up inside and working in cubical-land all day. I have no problem with authority, but I hated feeling like I was in the movie “Office Space” where I would have five different people tell me that I made one little mistake. That’s when I came back to my thoughts about massage therapy. I was about to turn thirty and did some soul searching about what I really wanted to do and who I wanted to be in life. What was my passion? I wanted to find a way that I could help people. I loved the non-profit work, but it was all behind the scenes work, not really knowing if what I was doing was truly benefiting people’s lives in a positive way. I wanted to be more tactile, more hands on. Then it all became clear; massage. I love to receive massages, I enjoy giving massages, and massage is a tactile, hands-on approach to helping others feel better and promotes health and healing. The decision was made. I did my research and made the decision to enroll in East West College of the Healing Arts and became a massage therapist. It was the best decision I have ever made. This September I will have been a LMT for 5 years, self-employed, and loving every minute of it. I found my passion in massage and made it my career. (As some of my clients know, I still work part-time for a non-profit. I haven’t been able to completely give that up yet, but I know I will soon retire from that job and just focus solely on my passions and career.)
So that's it in a nutshell! I am fortunate to have found my passion and to be able to make a career of it. When you love what you do, it isn't a job. It's fun. It's enjoyable. It's my zen place.
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.