When I go into a yoga class to teach, I find myself saying the same thing, over and over:
Let go of what or who no longer serve you.
Plain and simple. I’ll walk over to a student laying down in Cobra or surrendering in Child’s Pose and I’ll feel their weight or their hurt or their rejection or abandonment in the back of their heart. And I’ll remember my own. And usually, these words are the first to come out of my mouth, because nothing else feels right to say in the moment. This is the truth – letting go and surrendering what or who no longer serve our highest good.
About a week ago, I quit my teaching job at Liberty Yoga. And many students and teachers and friends have asked me why, and honestly? It’s not about “why.” It’s about “why not.” I’ve been teaching at the studio for two and a half years. It’s where I taught my first class, it’s where I started getting serious about my own practice, it’s where I signed up for my YTT to become a teacher, it’s where I met my teacher who would go on to change the entire course of my life in nine months. The studio is a special place, but that’s it – it’s just a place. While I will never bad-mouth an establishment or my disagreement with how its run, I realized one day that it was my time to go. Mainly, I became aware that I had a choice to make – I could stay and complain that I was not being heard or valued as an employee, or I could leave. And just that realization alone – the fact that I had a choice – changed everything for me. In all of my disgruntled disagreements with the behind-the-scenes business of the studio, I subconsciously made a choice to stay and put up with the stuff I very much disliked – stuff that I was telling my students to let go of. Who was I becoming if I was going to steer clear of my own advice?
That day, after that realization, I wrote my resignation letter. I opened with a list of reasons why I stayed, because I wanted my happiness and gratitude to be the words that lead the way. But I ended with a longer list of reasons why I am leaving, because gratitude alone is not enough. You need sustenance. I wasn’t getting it where I was. And what happens when you don’t get what you need? You say “thank you” first and “see you later” second.
I also realized that I had stayed in my teaching role mostly because of the students I had met and continued to meet every time I taught. I essentially became eagerly attached to them and how they made me feel. Every time someone thanked me for a class or came back each week, my soul would fill! And maybe my ego a little bit, too. And I loved them! Oh, how I loved sharing what I knew and what inspired me! I get goosebumps now just thinking about it. But there came another realization, beneath all of that love. I was afraid.
I stayed at Liberty Yoga because I was afraid that I would never succeed elsewhere. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to express myself in the same way anywhere else than how I had opened up with the Liberty students. And I was afraid that I wouldn’t be liked or respected or “understood” with a new group. And so, I stayed. I hunkered down with my amazing group and I played it safe for two and a half years, taking on stress and heaviness that I tolerated because I didn’t think I had a choice…
Until I realized I did have a choice. I always have a damn choice.
Here’s the deal – if you don’t like something, say it. Most self-help books and gurus will tell you that if you don’t like something, you should change it. No shit. But change is hard, at least change just like that. I’m saying, if you don’t like something, say it. Say it out loud. I don’t like my job. I don’t like my relationship. I don’t like my body. Say it like it’s the worst confession in the world to say, and then notice how you feel. I guarantee you that you’ll feel awkwardly at ease, and I say that because the truth is not always pretty. Neither is honesty, as my beautiful friend told me last night. It doesn’t feel good to say that you don’t like a choice you’ve made or where you are in life. We’re conditioned to believe that everything is roses and rainbows and if we think positively, we’ll learn to love the “un-lovable.” No! That’s not how any of this works, and this is coming from someone who is literally making life up as she goes along, so please take this advice as needed. The truth is not always pretty. It won’t feel good, but it will serve you.
You are allowed to leave. You are allowed to say no, MANY TIMES. You are allowed to change your mind and pick your pretty ass up and walk out the door if where you are no longer builds you up. And I’m not saying that you need a fancy plan for the after; I’m not even saying that it’s bad to have a plan. All this is is just an intention, a realization, and an Aha-moment that everything you do and decide is up to you.
The other night, I had this weird epiphany – like a truth that I had somehow known all along and was now reminded of. I strongly believe that we’re not meant to lose. We’re not meant to suffer or be in life-long pain. Somewhere at the beginning of all of this existing and shit, the idea came about that we’re put here to succeed. And somewhere else along the way, we, humans, screwed that up royally by becoming and staying so damn afraid of our own success. Instead, we hunkered down with our fear, got to know it pretty damn well, and stayed put.
I know how to fail, many times. I don’t know what it’s like to succeed, and that terrifies me. Because what if I actually make it?
So ask yourself – what if I actually succeed? What if my fear is not that I’ll crash and burn, but instead that I’ll rise and become the best version of myself possible? And I assure you, that that fear is the best kind of fear there is. Because it inspires you, not just to push forward, but to leave what and who no longer serve you.
There is no lifting up with an anchor that you attached yourself. There is no rising from the depths if you, yourself are swimming deeper down. I’m afraid every single day, but at least now I know what I’m really afraid of. I sit here writing this from my apartment balcony, candles lit and the wind blowing, and I can see small specks of the infinite night sky through the clouds. And I know that my fear is just as big as my love. Two sides of the same coin, two mirrors of the same light. I think letting go kind of feels like taking a shaky step forward with your eyes closed or falling backwards into arms of loving friends. It’s taking a leap, in every sense of the word. And all we have is trust. And faith.
Faith that we’re not going to lose, but gloriously succeed.