Christine Zaza

This is a story of resilience from when I was an undergraduate student studying music. I was in a performance program and my instrument was the violin.    

In my 3rd year, I experienced a playing-related injury which meant that I couldn’t play the violin anymore. In fact, I couldn’t even hold the violin in playing position, and I had significant pain with most activities in my daily life.   

The career goals I had been working toward for many years had suddenly become out of reach and my injury turned into a long battle with chronic pain which eventually led me to have major surgery. During that time in my life I felt lonely and depressed because I was grieving the loss of a life that I had my heart set on but was no longer possible.  

The turning point for me was when I realized that I needed to accept that I couldn’t go back to playing the violin. That’s when I decided that I needed to do something to help me find meaning in my situation. So, in my 4th year of undergrad, I switched from my performance program into a general music program and I decided to do a research project on musicians' playing-related injuries. That research project enabled me to use my experience to help others.   

My internal resources were my acceptance and my determination to find meaning from my adversity.

My outward resources were my close friends and others who supported me and who believed in my ability to pursue a new path. I went on to research musicians' occupational injuries in a Masters and PhD program and I also drew on my personal experience with chronic pain to study chronic pain management in a postdoctoral fellowship.    

My insight was that by focusing on acceptance and by looking for meaning, I was able to reduce my suffering.  So even though my life’s dream of being a professional musician was derailed, I realized that I could find happiness pursuing other directions in my life.  

My resilience story is not a story of bouncing back quickly – in fact, I don’t think I bounced back at all. But over time, I did move forward – it was just in a different direction than where I thought I was heading.  

- Christine Zaza, Online Learning Consultant, Centre for Extended Learning and Lecturer, Faculty of Health


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