You think you learned everything you needed in massage school? Forget that. Here’s what six years of working with two-year-olds taught me about being a great massage therapist.
1. Taking turns matters.
You will get your chance to relax, to deal with your personal problems, to break down, to chat about your interests, to cry. But while you’re giving a massage, it’s not your turn. Learn to be patient.
2. It’s mean when you won’t share your toys.
There’s no room for trade secrets in this business. You’ve got two hands, some oil, and a human body in front of you. The rest is just gravy. Playing hard-to-get with your colleagues because you see them as the competition, slapping a trademark on your particular take on deep tissue massage, refusing to mentor students and new therapists for fear they’ll steal your ideas … it’s petty. You’re a special snowflake, okay? Anybody else trying to be you is going to spend a lot of energy and end up with mediocre results.
3. Poop happens.
Also drool, snot, sweat, and period blood. Latex gloves and bleach, my friends. Latex gloves and bleach.
4. Everything can be interesting.
If you’re bored, it’s not the world’s fault, it’s yours. There are ants on the sidewalk, clouds in the sky, and glue sticks have an unusually satisfying flavor. Searching for the causes of a headache is like reading a good mystery novel. Find the wonder. Just because you don’t see it yet doesn’t mean it’s not there.
5. Eventually, somebody’s going to throw a tantrum.
A tantrum is an outsized reaction to a real or imagined problem. If the problem is real, it’s important to fix it. But know that the fixing won’t necessarily stop the tantrum right away. The nice thing about tantrums is that they’re exhausting. They can be scary while they last, but nobody can keep it up for long.
6. Everybody changes.
You will change. You will grow. You will pick up new values and new vocabulary, and learn to do new things on your own. Your body will do things you never anticipated it would do. The same is true of your clients. Expect it.
7. Everybody likes to have their back rubbed before a nap.
Seriously, everybody. Some quiet music, a soft blanket, and a back rub. There’s nothing quite like it. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Any toddler understands the value of regular massage. Maybe it’s time we learned that for ourselves.
Kat Mayerovitch is a licensed massage therapist and recent Midwest transplant to Dallas, Texas. She also works as a copywriter, volunteers like mad in local community development, and plays the ukulele. If you like her writing here, Kat writes more good stuff at LMT or Bust.