Growing up, we faced lots of challenges. How to walk. How to talk. How to make friends. How to fit in at new schools. How to be OK being different than others. Once we make it through the awkwardness of adolescence, many of us go to college either willingly or not, taking lots of risks, learning to become the person we want to be in life. Once we hit our twenties/thirties and we are “on our own” we move into life of young adulthood and hopefully find a job we love, maybe settle down into a relationship we love, have our “go to” restaurants, weekend plans, and essentially have a routine that we hold onto to make sure there is comfort and security in our lives.
That’s when the only chances to take risks in life are the opportunities we make ourselves. Yet many of us do not want to take any more risks for fear of losing the comfort we have built in our lives. I believe that the more we step outside of our habitual ways of being, the more we grow, and the more we appreciate what we have.
I just came back from a 9-day intense yoga training, completely outside my comfort zone. The yoga was different. The surroundings, while beautiful, were different. Instead of the comfort of my warm and spacious studio apartment, I was sharing a room with 4 other ladies on a futon on the floor. Not an early riser myself, I was up before 7 every day and in bed by 8pm. The learning was enriching yet new and different.
Coming at yoga from a more spiritual way, I was learning a new practical way. It felt like everyone knew more about yoga than me. I was lost, I was confused, I even questioned my place as a yoga teacher at one point. While normally a very confident teacher, I found myself questioning how much I knew. I wanted to leave many times. My insecurities were surrounding me everywhere I went. Instead of embracing my insecurities as part of who I was (like I often try to do in my every day life), I was running from them and beating myself up for having them. I had an overwhelming feeling of groundlessness.
Sounds like fun right?! Yet as time went by, as I was able to step away from the fears and insecurities and embrace the unease and change, I realized that was exactly where I was supposed to be. And now being back into my “regular life,” I realize it took strength and courage to take myself out of my comfort zone.
Sure, I could live my life in the safe and secure, only learning what feels comfortable to me, but I don’t think that would make me a very interesting teacher or student. We can’t always be in control of our lives. And to choose to take ourselves away from the control and into the chaos is a place to face our fears and grow stronger. Now being back for 24 hours, I realize that the experience has strengthened me. I know more about anatomy, yoga, and the world outside my personal yoga bubble. Yet I also know I can take myself into uncharted territories and come out on top. I know that my fears, while absolutely coming from somewhere valid, are not the total sum of who I am. I know that I need to have compassion for myself and embrace my insecurities. And I also know that most of the time the fears and insecurities in my head are not real.
When we allow ourselves to be swallowed by our insecurities, the framework of our lives can seem pretty bleak. It’s easy to feel secure when surrounded by people we know and love, when we are praised for who we are and follow our routines that give us a sense of stability and knowing. And then to take that all away, and strip ourselves of this, we are left with many questions. Who am I? Is that person better than me? Do I really know anything?! I go on and on to my students about trusting that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, yet that can be so easily forgotten in the sea of confusion and vulnerability.
I’ve realized to be vulnerable is actually our greatest strength. To take ourselves out of the comfort and into the uncomfortable is a place to explore and learn and take risks. If we are not challenging ourselves in life, then life can get a little stale. The way to make something uncomfortable your new normal is to keep going.
I am a stronger person today for the challenges and risks I take. And the more I face my insecurities the more I can (as they reminded me in the training) “let that shit go!” We all have insecurities. We all get nervous and scared; that’s why as much as we are all different, we are all the same. The more I discovered that teachers who were 20 years more experienced than I am were facing these similar challenges, the more I realized I was not alone; because we are never alone. One of my teachers in the training said “ you have to feel safe and secure in order to take risks.” That struck me enough to write it down because it reminded me that it was because I have created a safe and enriching life for myself in the midst of challenges, I was able to jump in a land of the unknown and I love that about myself. So if you ever feel like you are “not enough” or “just can’t do it,”
remind yourself that you are not alone. Trust your intuition and take the risks that feel right for you.
You may fall. You may get scared. But that’s life and eventually you can let all that go, and just be wonderful amazing brave and courageous you.