The last three years have been a whirlwind of ups and downs – life in its most dramatic format. I’ve been teaching yoga for three years now and on Sunday 28th April I will host my day retreat at Strathaven Hotel, this will also be the third anniversary of when I taught my first yoga class as a fully qualified yoga teacher. It’s amazing to think how far I’ve came from the scared person who sat outside the studio three years ago, wondering if anyone would turn up. To mark the three-year anniversary with so many lovely people will be incredibly emotional and will underline how far I’ve come both as a yoga teacher and as a person. However, there will always be a however …
Regrets? I’ve had a few…
Over the last three years I’ve worked hard to build my yoga business, starting with one class and often one person and building up to where I am today. Many days I went along to teach my class not knowing if anyone would show up, and always being amazed when someone came along to share their practice with me. I viewed it all as a step along the road, to wherever this journey is taking me, and I went with it. It has always been about sharing yoga with people who might benefit from a bit of stress relief, and my intention is to keep my yoga classes focused on the lovely people who show up each week.
The hard work I’ve put in has paid of in people coming along to share their yoga with me each week, joining me in raising money for charity and mostly having a laugh. I’m ok with the hard work and effort I’ve put, I might even be a tiny bit proud of myself too. But the pictures I post on social media don’t reflect these realities. We only choose to share the best of ourselves with the world and this can present a biased and unrealistic view.
We may lose or we may win…
Under normal circumstances I try hard not to compare myself with others. I view social media with a wary eye, trying to maintain perspective and balance, while enjoying the inspiration of seeing the world through this lens. But sometimes, normally when things are going ok, I look up the business pages of my yoga colleagues and compare my bad days to their best days. There I said it out loud and I am owning my truth. I’m a comparer, and I use these comparisons as a basis to make myself feel bad.
The problem with me is that no matter what I do I just don’t feel like I’m being enough, doing enough or even that I am good enough. And of course, all the people I visit online are living life perfectly, delivering sold out yoga retreats across the globe and have great hair. On the other hand I am debating whether I should quit my job to become a full time yoga teacher, how I would pay the bills if I did that and the words I’d use to grovel to get my job back when it all ultimately falls apart.
Everyone else seems to be living their best life, and I’m being left behind in a not good enough panic room. Without being consciously aware, some part of my brain is always collating information to back up the assertion that I am not enough. This applies to my daily job of teaching, to my yoga business and of course to my role of being a mama to Jackson.
The truth hurts, but it is out there
In moments of honest lucidity, I know that I am doing my best, but some part of me knows that this is not completely true. I should be taking Jackson for more walks instead of heading to the gym for myself. I could be sitting planning interesting lessons for school, reading those professional papers and polishing my CV ready to make the move into management; but I don’t feel motivated to take on more responsibility and hassle. I would love to apply to work part-time at school and take on more yoga classes, undertaking more study and trying to help others more; but I have bills to pay and I don’t know anyone who is making a successful living as a yoga teacher without having a partner who is supporting them in some way. So, I’m not doing any of these things, I’m procrastinating, comparing my dream life with others actual existences and making a massive list of ways I’m just not adding up.
The truth is that I have impostor syndrome, I’m convinced that someone, somewhere is going to show up and realise that a mistake has been made. They’ll find out that I didn’t get those scores in my exams and that all my qualifications are an error. This is a common theme in other peoples lives with 70% of people experiencing this at some point in their lives.
Talk it over
According to Dr Valerie Young (a leading expert on Impostor Syndrome) we can begin to address the issues of not feeling good enough by talking about it. In a recent TED talk, Elizabeth Cox said that most people feel that they don’t quite deserve their achievements, but no one ever talks about it. Like mental health issues, sharing how you feel can help you to get support and to begin to break down the barriers which are holding so many back from realising their full potential.
I’m talking about my impostor syndrome and I’m working on overcoming my own insecurities and self-imposed fears. Maybe I’ll get feedback from this blog post to support my assertion that I’m not good enough, and that’s ok too, because I’m working on myself and my skills. It’s a journey not a destination and along the way I’m going to make mistakes, piss people off (unintentionally) and get things wrong. But I’m also going to learn from these things and move forwards with my head held high.
How do I get out of this?
This downward spiral has been consuming my life for the last few weeks, and instead of actually doing anything about it I’ve been watching Homes under the Hammer while I look at Instagram photos of yogis doing handstands on a beach.
I’ve learned over the years that I need to swim my way through these moments and acknowledge however I’m feeling then let it pass on by. Taking a walk outside, in nature, with Jackson obviously, is the best antidote because none of the people I am comparing myself to have him. I was chosen by the little ball of fluff and I trust he made a good decision, he thought I’d be good enough; after some training of course!
I also need to get real, and the best way for me to do this is to write a list, that way I can get clear about all the things I’m unhappy with, pinpoint what I can realistically do to help and move forwards and then get started in making the change. This might mean some challenging conversations are on the cards, but if I don’t have these chats then I will never have the opportunity to achieve my goals and dreams.
The future is … still to be decided
At the moment I’m not planning on opening my own yoga studio I’m happy serving my community at the YMCA, but I do want to study more and to learn from as many people as possible. Not to allow me to have a list of superstar mentors, but to enhance my own personal experience and expand my life. I’m still going to feel like an impostor from time to time and I’m ok with that too, because I know that I need to constantly work to overcome that voice in my head telling me that I’m not good enough. I realise that it’s ok to be a work in progress, as long as I’m heading towards living my best life. I think I might just be ok with that.