by Rebekka Kuzichev

Rebekka Kuzichev
Rebekka Kuzichev

This year started on the heels of an amazing and rejuvenating retreat in Costa Rica. I was a little burnt out from a heavy quarter and felt renewed with love and confidence and was excited to share what I had learned at the HERstory seminar in October.

And then COVID happened and I think we can all agree that those were not an easy six months. It dredged up a lot of past trauma that hadn’t fully healed. Even though I had done so much growth during my time in Costa Rica it felt like I went two steps forward and then 30 steps back. It felt as if I wasn’t worthy of being a speaker anymore because I was in I was back in place that I had been before. But I had come to the realization that this is exactly how we empower each other. By making sure we create a space that it’s OK to be imperfect in, or to still be healing from something. We help each other by being real with where we’re at. That’s how we grow together. I don’t think we see enough stories that are in the in the middle part, in the midst of a struggle. A lot of speakers talk about the endings and how they started at a rock bottom in the beginning, struggled in the middle and are now where they want to be. And their message usually consists of “you can be here too!” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think we see enough stories that are in the middle of the struggle, and honestly that’s where I’m at. So, I wanted to share a little bit more about the middle of my story it has a lot to do with discovering who I was as a person. And I know it sounds very cliché, I get it, I hate clichés but probably my biggest lesson in school was having to know who I was in order to know what kind of chiropractor I would be.

If someone were to ask: “who are you?” How would you describe yourself? I think a lot of people are sleep walking through life and I don’t really know who they are. When it comes to answering this question, people answer in a way that is in relation to another thing. Maybe the first thing you thought of was: “I’m a chiropractor.” Are you nothing without chiropractic? That’s a dangerous way to think.

My identity does not solely lie in Chiropractic. Before I am a chiropractor I am Bekka. But when I first started chiropractic school, I didn’t really know who I was. And when you don’t know who you are people will tell you who you are, and who you need to be in order to make them comfortable. And I’m not just talking about the surface stuff like, “oh I am from such and such place I grew up here I went to school here.” I’m talking about what are my fears and dreams? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What is my motivation? Why do I do the things I do? What coping mechanisms do I still use that aren’t serving me anymore? I know that a lot of these sound like very simple questions but once you dig to a deeper level there’s a lot of layers that we have to sift through because a lot of things that covered up by trying to avoid pain. My question to you is: are you paying attention? My biggest struggle when I started school was not the classes or the adjusting, it was getting out of my own way, so I can grow into who I was created to be.

Right off the bat in my first and second quarters, people started to tell me exactly who I needed to be in order to be a successful chiropractor. Most of them meant well, but no one ever told me it was ok to be my authentic self and then to grow that. They told me what I lacked and not how to expand on my strengths and nurture my weaknesses.

People would tell me: “you have to join this club, you have do this amount of screenings, you have to gain mass, you have to stop focusing on academics, you have to be more outgoing, you have to be extroverted, you have to be more friendly.”

I didn’t really fit into the “mold” of the stereotypical life west student (and yes there is a stereotype). What we don’t know about ourselves can hurt us. And I spent the first 2 years of school trying to be someone I wasn’t, just because everyone told me that who I was wasn’t good enough. Without self-awareness, of how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we become prisoners of our history. The main message I received from of some of the people around me was that I wouldn’t be a successful chiropractor if I continued to focus on my classes. There was an attitude at school that celebrated people who did the best adjustments, had the fastest learning curve and got the loudest cavitations. I tried to become like those people and viewed my thirst for knowledge as a weakness, and something that stood in the way of becoming that “great chiropractor” everyone would talk about.

Here’s the thing, if any of you know about the enneagram, I am a type 5 and a thirst for gaining knowledge and wisdom is a part of who I am. I was told to be different in order to be accepted, and I tried to get rid of that part of me. I love to learn, and I love to share what I learn so it took a big part of the joy out of school. I felt like I didn’t belong in the chiropractic profession, even though I loved everything about it. I thought about quitting third quarter, and then 5th quarter, and even this quarter. I wasn’t aware of my strengths and became hyperaware of my weaknesses that were thrust upon me without my consent.

Let me say that again: people will put limitations on you without your consent. Most of the time we will believe something if we are afraid it is true. Even though I got the repeated message to get my nose out of the books and focus on something “more important,” I dove into finding out more about my unhealthy coping mechanisms, my actual weaknesses, my motivation, and my strengths. And I learned that my main motivation at the time stemmed from fear. I had had a few interpersonal traumas in the few years before starting school and I was afraid to connect with people again.

Any of my classmates from the beginning of school (if they noticed that is), would know me as a completely different person. My first few quarters I experienced so much anxiety and depression that I hardly spoke to anyone beyond what was necessary. I was in a perpetual state of my mind being disconnected from my body and if you know about the polyvagal theory, it completely inhibited the neurology that we use to socialize with one another.

I was determined to grow and heal without needing people and without having to be vulnerable and develop deeper connections with people, even though that is ultimately what I wanted. Out of all the research I did for several months and about 19 books later, I had my answer. People. Every single book I read on the subject of healing, self-discovery, or growth had the same message: you have to have a safe and supportive community in order to grow. Great. I even read the book that literally had the title How to win friends and influence people. The problem was, I didn’t feel like I had a safe community to support me, to accept my failures, struggles, and weaknesses and to help me discover more of who I was so I could grow.

Which brings me to the Costa Rica retreat. I signed up reluctantly because I had been burned mostly by women in my past so going on an all-female sounded like a nightmare. I remember being in the final leg of my flight and worrying more about meeting people at the airport than being in a foreign country. That week changed my life. On their promotion posts Dr. Mo and Dr. Mac had said, “give us a week and we’ll change your life.” And they did not disappoint. They were the first and only chiropractors who celebrated me for who I was, but also desired to help me grow, and that changed everything for me. It was a huge turning point in my own self-awareness of what I needed to grow and to accept the parts of me that seemed like everyone was trying to get rid of. As we all know, growth and healing is rarely linear so fast forward to today and I am in the midst of a struggle still, and that’s ok.

But the main concepts I want you guys to take away from this is: don’t be afraid to discover yourself more. In fact, I want you to set apart one hour to dive into who you really are: strengths, weaknesses, and that includes separating out things people have told you that may not be true, and what your greatest gifts are. Most of all, learn how to ask questions. Curiosity propelled me on my journey of self-discovery. Whenever I had a certain reaction to a situation that really didn’t serve me or those around me, I’d ask myself why? Not to judge, just to understand. I think Wwhen we understand ourselves better, we understand others better and expand on our capacity to love and serve them. It’s time to start paying attention.


“Don’t be afraid to discover yourself more”

When we understand ourselves better, we understand others better and expand our capacity to love and serve them.