When I started acupuncture school, I was 23 years old. I had only been out of college for a year, and I knew that I wanted to be a healer and not much more than that. I was very much trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted my life to look like, but I was drawn to acupuncture and I went for it.
Throughout my time in school (and life, really), my validity and authority was questioned because of my age. "Wow, you're so young!" or "Aw, you're such a baby!" were phrases that I heard almost daily (whether they were meant with malicious intent or curious observation), and after awhile I started to play them over in my head when I thought about my abilities. Who was I to be healing others when I'm still trying to figure it all out myself? How am I going to get patients to come see me who are older than me? What wisdom or experience could I possibly have to offer? And the negative thought patterns and stories began to fester. Being a natural born hard worker and social butterfly allowed me to make connections and move through my clinical hours in a fast paced, "successful" manner, but every time an older patient decided to try out this Chinese Medicine thing with me, the negative thoughts would be looming in the back of my mind. I was taught to be respectful of elders, so how audacious and self involved I must be to be giving advice and knowing how to heal this person who has lived so many more years than myself!
I will say that this was a story about myself that I discovered early and was reassured by good friends to not believe about myself. I appreciated their kind words, and it was easier said than done to get out of my own head and see my true potential. The best way I can describe it is that I conceptually understood the fact that my age should in no way inhibit what I can offer as a healer, and at the same time it was nowhere close to being embodied in my mind, my flesh, and my soul. That was where the growth work came in.
In 2019 I decided it was time to change the stories--to get out of the small minded thinking about myself and my worth (a concept I had learned in school and also not gotten around to fully embodying) and open the door to my true potential. This is not to say I was a crappy or disconnected acupuncturist until 2019--I was always incredibly present with my patients, the problem was that I was not being present with myself. I put these changes into effect to see what would shift:
-- Exercising every morning (Sundays off for rest and recovery)
-- Eating cleaner (cutting out dairy and significantly decreasing carbs, while adding in more lean meats and fresh produce)
-- Waking up a little earlier each day to give myself time for a full morning routine and going to bed a little earlier so that I could get enough rest
-- Ingesting flower essences every day (there will be a whole other blog post about this soon)
-- Taking time to listen to podcasts with speakers and messages that inspired and motivated me
-- Meditating several times a week (I won't lie and say I did it every morning because I didn't; I did make it a priority more than I had been however)
-- Investing in learning new skills and deepening my current skills as an acupuncturist
-- Repeating self love mantras each day and practicing daily mindfulness and active awareness of where my thoughts wandered off to throughout the day
These tweaks have changed my perspective ENTIRELY. Committing to myself and my body in a way that I hadn't fully before woke something up inside of me--my inner badass. OF COURSE I could counsel people. OF COURSE I could offer insight and thoughtful treatment plans and space holding. I am a strong, kick ass woman who figured out her passion before most--and that is a true blessing, not a curse or something to be embarrassed about. I finished my Masters in Acupuncture at the tender age of 26. This makes me moldable for even more knowledge, and given the opportunity to practice what I love for lifetimes. The possibility of where my life and career can go from here is endless, and that is more powerful than any fearful thought or passive aggressive comment. Once I took the time to love on myself and change my story, clarity and potential opened the door and said, "come on in, friend. We've been waiting for you."
Today, the majority of my practice is flooding with persons many years older than myself, and I show up for them with the full confidence that I can serve them. I have had a vast amount of experiences (both painful and wonderful) in my life thus far, and even more than that, I am living mindfully and taking something from every challenge and triumph. Everything we do offers a lesson if we're aware enough to let it in, and I do my best to offer this for my patients every day.
I share this story because I know that there are so many young people out there who have a passion and think they're too young or not good enough to do something. I am here to tell you that YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH. What are you waiting for? For society to give you the green light? For your parents to approve? For a certain milestone to be checked off on the life list? Life is happening NOW, and not to sound corny but we never know when our last day will be. So why futz around waiting for the "appropriate" time for your life or career or love to start?
You CAN learn to love yourself more and make your dreams come true. Just because you're younger doesn't mean you're naive or lacking in things to offer. Everyone is in a different cycle in life and learning to better themselves in some way and I firmly believe that age is JUST a number. When you're working through something it makes you uniquely qualified to help someone else with it because you're living it. You are the embodied experience of that challenge in life and can lead them through it as you're blazing the trail. And if older persons don't trust you to do this or do mock you for your age, let them go--there are plenty of other fish in the sea who are waiting to work with you and learn from you.