Life. Yoga. Joy.
Inspiring a life with smiles...™
I've been sharing my journey on social media as I embark on a new adventure...preparing for yoga teacher training. And overwhelmingly, I've had so much positive feedback and love from friends, strangers, fellow yogis, and adventure-seekers. My heart is full, I'm feeling so much gratitude.
But occasionally, the odd snarky comment creeps in...usually it is made verbally to me (I think because then there is no "proof" of having been negative). However even those comments aren't as bothersome...because they have no power over me or my life...and they certainly aren't as difficult to deal with as the ones in my head...
Yes, that's right my peeps...even I, your optimistic wanderer, have my own doubts and fears, moments of depression, and negative thoughts. So instead of hiding those things, I'd like to share the actual conversations I have with myself when fear creeps in, in the hopes that my experiences will encourage you on your own brave new journey...
Fear 1: I'm too old to make a change
This is my birthday month. I tend to get really reflective around this time. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my birthday! I totally adore getting a special day to celebrate...ME and the fact that I EXIST! (Forgive my narcissistic tendencies...) But we live in a society that values youth, and the older I get, the more my inner voice says, "Why don't you just act your age? Can't you be a grownup? Why do you have to keep changing?"
First of all, I have no idea how acting my age should look or act. When I was a kid, being a teenager seemed like such a MATURE age. Then when I hit my teens, my twenties sounded majorly cool and grownup. My thirties sounded ...well...old! And now that I am about to enter the last year of my thirties, I can't figure out how I am supposed to feel.
For goodness sakes, I giggle when people tell goofy jokes, I laugh aloud in yoga class when I fall out of poses, I enjoy coloring, dancing around my apartment, and singing at the top of my lungs in the car! I don't enjoy cleaning the house any more than I ever enjoyed cleaning my room when I was a kid. And paying bills and monitoring my money, while I do it because it allows for a roof over my head, the chore is just as annoying as homework was on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I adore my nose ring, and know that at some point my hair will be streaked pink again...or blue...or both...and don't get me started on my love for all things sparkly...
I haven't quite figured out this grownup thing yet...And as for changing and growth...I recently listened to a Kripalu podcast with Tao Porchon-Lynch on Aging Gracefully. Tao is 97 years young. She was an actress, writer of screenplays and documentaries, and still is a yoga teacher. In her 80s she took up ballroom dancing for the sheer joy of it. After listening to her talking and laughing about her wonderful experiences I realized "Who says you ever after to grow up?"
Fear 2: I am not good enough to be a teacher
I remember vividly my first day of teaching English Literature. I had been hired by the school the Friday before school started. I literally was handed the curriculum the day before the students arrived. Some of the stories I had never even read before, despite my extensive love of the so-called classics. I remember standing in front of my classes, looking out at the sea of staring eyeballs thinking "What the hell am I doing here? Do I really think I can be a teacher?"
Then I took a breath, and the sea of eyeballs became faces, some smiling, some scared looking, some hostile, some bored...but real people with their own life experiences. I realized my job as their teacher wasn't to try and impress them with my knowledge, but to help them realize their potential. And suddenly I knew that I had made the right choice. Even back then my life was governed by the principle of ahimsa - a beautiful word describing the idea of doing no harm, and treating others (and yourself) with compassion. Over the four years that I was teaching high schoolers, I know that I made lots of mistakes with my students and my methods. But each day I walked into my classroom secure in the knowledge that my goal was to be of service to my students, and despite my errors, I know I was able to do some good in my small way...
So although once I get my certification I will be a "new teacher" all over again, I know that I can be of service to my yoga students. My desire is to bring the joy of yoga to the classroom, and help my students bring their yoga off the mat and into the very essence of their lives. And since there are so many wonderful teachers out there that I can learn from, I know that I will be able to pass along such lessons to my students as well.
There is a magical part of teaching that is not often discussed...how much the teacher learns from their students. So often in my literature classroom, I was in awe of the various perspectives my students brought to the text using their unique experiences. As I much as I ever taught them, they taught me 10 times more about literature, life, and our capacity to love each other as human beings sharing this world together. Each one of them will always be in heart as one of "my kids", and I feel such gratitude for the fact that I am still in touch with so many of them.
Fear 3: I won't be a success
We live in a culture that defines success by money, title, status, likes on social media, and achievement. As a future yoga teacher I was recently asked, how will I know if I succeed as a teacher? "Fair question" I thought...Hmmm...Will it be by how many students come to my classes? Is it based on the number of people who follow my feeds? By whether or not I can stay in advanced poses for a long time? Touch my feet to the back of head in a handstand?
Eventually I realized such questions are not only crazy-making, but they are irrelevant. Sure I have goals for my future as a yoga teacher: I would love to do festivals because I adore traveling and meeting new people. I have ideas for different types of classes filled with sequences of joyful playtime, and fun music. I daydream about having a studio which is warm and welcoming (complete with a book nook and vegan cafe...dream big!) But the older I get, the more I realize that "success" is not truly defined by the achievement of goals. Because once we reach those set points, as human beings our natural tendency is to want to go for the next bigger and better goal.
Setting goals in and of itself is not a bad thing. It can be exciting to watch our own progress as we near a checkpoint in our careers, lives, or education. The problem comes in when we define our self-worth by the achievement of a goal. We are not the sum of checklists, and our value is not defined by a tally of successes. If we only look at the end result, we forget the journey. If we only look at the listing of our accomplishments, we forget our humanity.
Nowadays I define my life more with the following questions:
No one is exempt from fear or doubt. And sometimes they serve a purpose. For example, it is my fear of getting burned which reminds me not to be careful around a hot stove when cooking! But if we give in to our fears, or allow others to instill doubt in us, we create a world that is small and defined only by our limitations. Daily I remind myself that life is a gift, and my sole job is to live my life the best way I can. So take the leap, create a life you love, and in doing so we can only add beauty to this world that we share...
I would love to hear how you overcome your fears or doubts. May your next journey be one you can embrace...with smiles..
Samantha Eve, a