Human nature compels us seek a place we belong, to find a community where we feel at home. In the field of psychology, this community is referred to as our tribe. The last few years of the pandemic brought many of us a sense of isolation and separateness. The celebration of National Physical Therapy Month gives me an opportunity to remember that I belong to a group of amazing people.
I studied to be a physical therapist because I thought it would equip me to help people live their fullest lives. And it has! What I didn’t realize was how much I could sense being part of something bigger than myself. I am writing this before attending the ASHT Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, in October. Just thinking about participating in the meeting makes my heart feel warm and full. I also try to attend the APTA Combined Sections Meeting each year. Both events give me a chance to reconnect with my tribe, to be among people who have the same goals and purpose, which gives me joy.
Being a physical therapist and a hand therapist affords me the opportunity to continue to learn. I don’t just mean keeping up with the new research. I learn more about myself simply because I am a member of these communities. We are beginning to open our eyes and hearts to the wonder found in our differences and how, at the same time, we share so much.
As Maya Angelou said, “In diversity, there is beauty and there is strength.” My tribe includes she/he, him/her, them/they, gay, straight, black, white, introverts, extroverts, democrats, republicans and more. Driven by our common purpose to help people, we are becoming more aware of our common ground and how to honor our differences. We are also learning how to treat each other with greater respect and compassion. This is certainly reason to celebrate!
As I become a “seasoned” therapist, I realize that more and more I look forward to October and to the celebration of Physical Therapy Month. This annual observance is an anchor for me, an event that brings much needed continuity to my life. I am grateful for the purpose, joy, and fulfillment I find as a physical therapist and as a hand therapist. I belong to awesome tribes!