Having finished my first Yoga Teacher Training three months ago, I find myself going back and forth between recognizing what life has brought me ever since my graduation, and feeling like it’s about time for things to get ‘real’, to step up my game. Actually, there are already quite some windows and opportunities in my present life, some of which I even created myself. On the other hand, there’s this voice in the back of my head that pops up every now and then, telling me to better hurry or I’ll miss the boat. That others might jump in and take my window to becoming a successful yoga teacher.
Now, these are thoughts I’d rather deny. Sometimes I go ahead and tell myself I don’t feel like this. Because to be honest, I don’t want this voice in my head taking over now and then. I know it’s silly and there’s a place for everyone. When I feel centered and I’m committed to my home practice of self-care, there is mostly this trust and calmness. Just a sense of knowing that my path will unfold itself and all I have to do is let this process be.
But of course, there are also numerous days where I fall back into the trap of losing myself in an outward focus. Focusing on socializing, working too much, Netflixing or Instagramming while I want to meditate but just can’t get myself to doing so, etcetera. Now me calling this ‘falling back into a trap’ is where I – without realizing it – have been punishing myself. Why is it a trap? What’s wrong with enjoying the social parts of my life, or the occasional laugh or wonder when watching Netflix? Now that I am a yoga teacher, I don’t have to spend all my time meditating or doing asanas. That doesn’t ‘prove’ a yogi approach to life. And why do I need to prove anything to anyone?
Well, to convince myself, I realized. Again, something I’d rather just sweep under the carpet. Because underneath it lies an insecurity. And my clever mind tries to find a quick fix for it by just ignoring it, to avoid all the discomfort insecurities bring along.
So, what is this insecurity, then? It’s the unknown of stepping into the world believing this new role – a yoga teacher – is what I’m meant to do. Trusting that people will see and accept me for it and are actually willing to receive what I have to share. The question that arises all the time is: who am I to be a yoga teacher? I only realized this when I read a blog by Maris Degener, titled exactly like this. When I saw the title, it hit me; this is what’s been going on ever since I got home and started teaching. Every time a person older than me steps into my class and my head immediately goes ‘oh, you see that, he thinks you’re just a rookie’. Or finding myself stuttering when people ask me what kind of yoga business it is that I’m starting up. I shy away from saying what I envision, because it takes courage to be bold in a humble and honest way. It’s easier to step back into all the self-fulfilling beliefs that feed this insecurity because at least you know how that’s gonna go. Do I dare to put it – my vision, my dream, myself – out there, risking that I will fail my own expectations that I deny I have?
I’ve come to find that speaking your truth, and speaking all of it, isn’t as simple as I thought it to be. It’s a 180-degree different approach to life to open yourself up in order to shine your sparkle, rather than staying small and making sure you don’t stand out in any way because you’re just not used to people watching. Even though I have this deep sense of belonging and I oftentimes feel like I have a lot to share, and I even want to actually do so, it is not a matter of ‘just doing it’ to me. Because what I’m sharing is me: my heart and my truth, my beliefs, my vulnerabilities. And now that takes a sh*t load of courage. It brings along the risk to be (or feel) misunderstood by others and the risk of ‘pinpointing myself down’ and not allowing myself to change my beliefs or my truth. Because sometimes that just happens.
Now there’s no shortcut to skip any of this. All I can do is commit myself to stay honest and courageous, over and over again. To have the guts to acknowledge all the ‘ugly’ self-expectations or thoughts that I judge myself for having. To have the guts to face them rather than covering them up. Commit myself to sticking to my deeply rooted (although sometimes hidden) faith in my purpose finding its way. Because it is here, at the most uncomfortable or unknown parts of life, where true growth and eventually bright shining can happen. And as a yoga teacher, that is what I wish for others to unfold. Now there’s this saying, telling you to practice what you preach… Guess that’s the valuable lesson I have to learn in this new phase of my life as I’m getting started: the ‘ugly’ stuff is a part of it, so let it be a part of it.