Student Spotlight on Nicole Kassien: Fear Today, Gone Tomorrow

Can you measure fear? She has a fear of heights, but he’s only afraid of snakes. So which is a ‘bigger’ fear? I have a fear of spiders; I would call it a small fear. I don’t like them, and if there is someone around to take care of the issue, perfect. If not, I can handle it. Fear gone. But not all my fears are small.

Photo of student Nicole Kassien holding a bearded dragon, standing next to Nora, the campus librarian

Massage therapy student Nicole Kassien faces her fears and holds Norbert, the bearded dragon.

I am a spring graduate of Globe University-Wausau in the massage therapy program, former student ambassador, and I am afraid of lizards. Ever since I was little and the small anoles and geckos ran under my feet in Florida, I have hated them! You can imagine my surprise when I decided to go back to school, and there were lizards in the library. The place where students go to study and relax was crawling with two bearded dragons named Norbert and Charlie, and two leopard geckos Buffy and Spike! Ugh! Oh sure, I could study somewhere else, but have you met our librarian, Nora Craven? She makes the library a stress-free zone. It is the place to be—the place I wanted to be.

It was time to get over this fear. So I set a goal. By the last week of school, I would hold the lizards. Truth be told, I once held Spike for three seconds. I think I blacked out during the experience, but I did it. He had crawled to the back of Nora’s shirt, and I grabbed him; Nora turned and took him out of my hands. I had nightmares for weeks. My goal this time would be to really hold them, for a picture—smile included!

Sometimes you just have to take the step, jump in and have faith in what you know is going to be ok. I didn’t go to a psychologist, or counseling. I didn’t take any medication or have a drink beforehand. I just walked into the library determined to hold the lizards, and I did it. I didn’t do it for my family, friends, for Nora or this blog. I simply did it for myself.

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Much like the reason I went back to school; I went back for me. After I already had a degree, a career and a family, going back to school was a huge step. Why reinvent the wheel? Life changes, goals change and society changes, so we have to be like another lizard: the chameleon. We need to be able to adapt to change to do what is best for ourselves. It has helped better me, because by making myself a better person, I make everything around me better.

Photo of student Nicole Kassien holding a gecko while standing alongside Nora, the campus librarian

Nicole Kassien bravely holding one of the campus geckos

I called Globe on December 19, 2012, had a meeting on December 27, and started my first class on January 7, 2013. I am very proud to say that on June 19, 2014, I graduated with an associate degree in massage therapy.

I have never been more proud of myself. Do I still have fears? Tons. But through this experience, I can tell you, fears can be overcome—you just have to jump in with both feet and do what’s best for you!

Written by Nicole Kassien, massage therapy program graduate