My life seems to run in themes.
I think it's the universe trying to send me a message. As certain things pop up over and over again in my life, I'm forced to suddenly pay attention. Last year, during the beginning of my teacher training, my whole school curriculum seemed to suddenly align with yoga. We were meditating in class, taking stretch breaks between chapters, talking about new life changes and overcoming anxieties. It was like the world was trying to tell me, "Hey, listen up. You're doing the right thing."
Recently, the thing that has been popping up for me is the idea of core values.
Last week, a teacher asked us to write about priorities: what we define them to be, what ours are, what other people's are. I was surprised at the answers that sprung to mind, a world away from the answers I would have given even just a year ago. The first item on my list was simply happiness. Happiness. Last year, I would have thought that answer was cheesy, and remarkably flippant. Priorities are supposed to be things that are important- things like grades and tests and college. An arbitrary idea like happiness never would have made it on my grand list of goals and priorities.
But on this day, it came to mind without hesitation. I want to be happy, and the day I started making decisions based on that was the day I started to feel like myself.
I almost didn't decide to do teacher training. I was scared- scared that I wasn't old enough, or hadn't been doing yoga long enough, or wasn't "good" enough. But above all else I was scared that I would be pulling too much attention away from what was "really important". The idea that I would be eating away my homework time at the studio caused me a great amount of anxiety. I feared that my grades would start to slip, and if I lost my grades, I would lose my identity as The Smart Girl.
But then I realized: teacher training would make me really happy.
There really, at the time, appeared to be no other reason to do it. I knew that above all else, especially at that time in my life, yoga brought me pure joy, and exploring it seemed like a dream. The thought of teaching, something that had slipped into my mind as just a passing thought and a "maybe someday" wish from my very first class, seemed just within my grasp. So I did it.
And once I started teaching, I realized that it was the greatest decision I had ever made.
I get to do a lot of amazing things. I get to hike with my mom on Sunday mornings and write about my life and speak with interesting people. But nothing on this planet compares to the feeling I get when I teach a class at Just Be. It's like nothing else. The only thing I could compare it to is a feeling of belonging, a click in your mind where everything snaps into place and you feel like you've found the thing you've been searching for your entire life. And I get to do that every week.
We had a get together at Just Be this weekend where we discussed core values. We were given a list with dozens of words like "adventure", "playfulness", and "justice", and were asked to circle the ones that jumped out at us. Then, we narrowed down the list to the ones that really spoke to our inner truth, the ones that we use to guide our lives. Mine were narrowed to five: Gratitude, Healing, Openness, Knowledge, and Confidence.
If you read this blog, I hope you can see where each of these elements are represented. Gratitude is such an integral part of my life- I try to be grateful not only for the blessings (like the community I've found at Just Be and the freedom I feel while teaching), but also the more challenging things that have led to where I am today, like my disorder and struggles with anxiety. Healing, both mentally and physically, from that disorder has been a long road, and one that I think I'll be on forever, just like most others. And I want to help other people heal as well. Being a healing force for those who are dealing with any form of struggle, mental or otherwise, is something I can only hope to someday be.
My writings themselves are representations of my openness. I believe that many of the doors that have been opened to me are a direct result of the authenticity I've strived to evoke in my life. To me, being open and sharing is a two way street- by being honest about who and where I am, I'm giving others permission to do the same, and there is a great power in a world that values bearing who we truly are for all to see. I also hope to provide knowledge with my writings, as learning through science and other avenues of information has changed the way I approach my life in many aspects, and can help soothe the pain of not understanding why we act or feel a certain way. Knowledge is empowering- and it leads to my final value: confidence.
I've always wanted to be confident. I wanted to be that person who just exuded capability and groundedness. I wanted to be the kind of person people are drawn to because they like who they are, so why shouldn't you?
And for a long time, I waited and waited for the new, confident me to appear.
I thought maybe one day, far in the future, I'd wake up one morning liking everything about myself. I'd be smarter and prettier and kinder by then, in this fantasy future world. And then the confidence would come naturally, because it's easy to be confident when you're such a likable person.
I heard a quote once, I have no clue who said it or if I made it up in my head, but it was something along the lines of, "To be the person you want to be someday, you have to be that person today."
To be that confident person, you have to decide one day to live it. The beauty, the brains, the ability...the perception of it all is changed once you begin to act like you've got it all going on. There will never be a day where you suddenly wake up a flawless version of yourself worthy of confidence. But if you begin to present yourself in a way that makes what you have shine, things begin to fall into place.
I'm a firm believer that "faking it till you make it" is the only way that exists.
This Sunday, I themed my class around core values. I asked my class to dedicate their practice to that person they want to be someday, and to becoming that person today. I told them that that word, the one that pops into their mind, the one that they use to describe the people they admire, the one that they hope to someday be- it already exists inside of them, and all it takes is one, instantaneous decision to begin centering your actions around that word.
If you want to be kinder, you have to do kind things. If you want to be confident, you have to act that way. If you want to be heard, you have to speak.
That class, I could feel everyone in the room breathing. I could see people moving not up in their heads but down in their bodies, a complete, cohesive being perhaps for the first time ever. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
Reconnecting with the values that make you the person you want to be someday helps you to become that person today. What are your core values?