I think I might start training for a half marathon.
No, but seriously.
I went on a run today, my second in a week (if you recall, I’d all but given up running by early 2013 following a very hot and very uncomfortable marathon training during summer 2012). I started running today because I felt like I needed to exercise, but after I started running, I realized I was running to get something done.
We’re in the middle of about a million home improvement projects, and if you’ve ever been a homeowner, you know that these are caked full of disaster and long term chaos. For example, we started painting our house in April. Yes – April. We are still painting it now. Granted, much of the delay is due to the unseasonable amount of rain we’ve had this year, but still – over a quarter of the year later, we are still not finished.
And nearly all things in my life are in this chaotic upheaval. The biggest one being my career.
For years, I’ve dreamed of being a yoga teacher. A legit yoga teacher, and not just one in gyms to supplement my fitness career, which I had been doing previously. One in studios who makes workshops and does, you know, yoga shit. All last year was characterized by me inching closer and closer to my dream, as I was in training for my 200 RYT.
And then – bam – there it was. I had it. All of my dreams could be realized.
And at the end of February of 2015, they were.
My gracious, amazing, unbelievably supportive husband cheered me on as I left the corporate world to get a chunk of my dream as a full time yoga teacher.
Here’s what they don’t tell you, though: graduating yoga teacher training and quitting your job is akin to graduating from college. You wind up finishing, wide-eyed and bushy tailed, thinking the world is your oyster and ready to snag a piece of the American dream.
What happens, as all college graduates are familiar, is you wind up more with a bigger taste of desire, of a feeling like, Is this all there is? and a desire to revert back into your days in the program.
Maybe this doesn’t happen to all people, but it sure did to me – with each graduation.
I should have expected it, or seen it coming, as I have now graduated college twice – and high school – and now I’ve graduated YTT as well.
Each time you wind up thinking that this is revolutionary, that this will be the thing that changes everything, that now you can finally start to live your life…
…and what you find is that you just end up finding yourself, over and over, no matter how hard you try to run away from it.
And let me tell you, I’m pretty good at running away from it.
See, the thing they don’t teach you growing up, is to abide by your own internal standards, and not external ones. My whole life has been some sort of quest to get the approval of everyone around me. Get good grades. Be a great softball pitcher. Excel at your extra curriculars. Always feed the cat. Be home by 9:00. Don’t disappoint your friends. Become prom queen. Be thin and quiet and modest. Always hide your true feelings. Don’t be a baby.
Okay, granted, I deviated from this list several times in the defiance of my teenage years, but beyond that – I was always seeking to “fit in,” instead of finding where I belonged.
If you ask the middle school students in the focus groups of Brene Brown’s research, “fitting in” is the idea that you must change who you are to be a part of a group. “Belonging” is being accepted as who you are; being a part of the group regardless of whatever imperfections or deviations in thought you have from the group.
And well…. Fuck. Maybe this is why it was so hard for me to actually accept that, in my true heart of hearts, what I want to be is a writer. That doesn’t “fit in” anywhere. My superiors tell me it’s not practical. My friends think it’s silly – because they’re fitting in, too, and not belonging. My brain tells me I’m not good enough.
See that’s the thing – they tell you all the time that you can be anything you want to be, but when you pick the one thing that’s not practical, they suggest you go for something else instead.
Or, you don’t even say it, because you know that’s what they’ll say.
And that’s what they always say, too, you know – kids will toughen up. They’ll learn the ways of the world and they’ll figure out how to adapt.
What if the “ways of the world,” though, are the ways you shouldn’t be living your life? What if it’s better to be sensitive, to cry at small things, to stop “toughening up” so they can actually feel pain, feel joy, feel sorrow, feel happiness? Otherwise, isn’t it all just numbing?
So anyway, back to my desire to run. I have no concrete anything. Everything I do – house projects, teaching yoga, creating workshops, writing blogs, starting up health coaching – has no discernible end. How do I know if I’m successful if I’m going by my own internal compass? I’ve been taught to nix my internal compass because it’s not practical – because it’s not tough. When I create a painting, how do I know it’s over? When I write a blog, how do I know when to end it? When I teach a yoga class, how do I know if I’m successful? I get no feedback, I get no reviews, there are no goal posts or promotions or “next levels” to aspire to except whatever the fuck I decide to do.
Which is incredible exhilarating, and also horribly the fuck frightening.
What if I don’t know who I am outside of these outside markers?
I’m figuring it out, you know. It sucks ass, but I’m getting there. I’m crying more instead of less, and I think it’s a good sign. My husband says I’m a nicer person. And fuck – yes, I curse more.
And I don’t even fucking know why.
All of it is pointing in the right direction. Like I’m going where I need to be going, figuring out exactly what I need to figure out, and I’m starting to own up to it – I mean, if I can admit not only to myself, but to others that what I really want to be is a writer… Well, that’s a good start, yes?
But in the meantime, the running will give me something to focus on. An end point. One that has no arbitrary ends, where I don’t have to make a decision. I either finish the race or I don’t. I either run it in under 10 minute miles or I don’t. There’s no room for debate, it just is what it is.
And sometimes, it’s nice to have something so concrete and real.