You are free to have the life you dream of.
Without breaking the yoga teacher training code of ethics (ie, what happens in Bali stays in Bali), I can say that I received this from a fellow teacher in training as part of a group exercise we did one night of our week-long stint in Bali.
I read it, cried (predictably) and felt the sentence finally resonate with me (cliché, stay with me here) as I felt the stress of what had been a truly tumultuous couple of years prior finally start to fade away, and the possibility of things being *much less terrible* finally shift into focus.
We’ve done a lot to get where we are and we’re starting to see it pay off. So why, when we get that glimpse of a life we love, are we so sh*t scared of embracing it?
From my observations, very few people go into yoga teacher training without some serious shit going down in their lives first. It’s nearly always a conscious decision and one that comes out of, if not massive upheaval/heartbreak/job loss/grief (or all of the above, just saying…), at least some big change.
Months later, I find the scrap of paper safely tucked away in a journal I’d taken with me on that trip to Indonesia. Again feeling the pull of those words, the possibility they held if only I could let the philosophy sink in and permeate my skin and bones, I snapped a picture of the words and uploaded it as my Facebook cover picture. By this stage, I am living in Tuscany with my boyfriend and yes, every stereotype in the book was coming true: pasta every day, dates in the mountains, very loud and initially highly confusing family gatherings and a lot of gelato. I am riding a scooter around, much to the amusement of the kids who live next door and watching me learning to ride it, ran away yelling ‘help, help’ (this is not made up).
Fast forward to this week and I am walking, fast, literally pounding the pavement of Perth’s inner northern suburbs with a bestie. We are both doing well in our own ways. She’s killing it in her career, at the same time hitting health, and fitness goals that make her life more balanced that it has ever been before (us A-types stick together, no?) Since arriving back in Western Australia I have slipped straight back into consulting as well as teaching yoga, pilates and barre. I love what I do, I’ve got time to spend with family and friends; I’m taking surfing lessons, writing, and planning the next stage of life, which starts in a couple of months. The sun is shining, we’re working in our workout gear, we’re healthy, we’re making the lives of other people better through our work (important to both of us), but still, I turn to her when we’re nearly done with the walk.
Why are we so anxious? Why are we so afraid of actually achieving what we want?
To vocalise it immediately takes away some of its power. As does knowing another person feels exactly like this too. I start to wonder: do we get addicted to the drama and the struggle? Is it somehow easier to be fighting against something, to have an excuse for not achieving or doing or living what and how we want?
This is the pointy end, for now. I’m not crazy enough to think that despite the mud we’ve dragged ourselves through to get to this point, the emotional work we’ve done, tears we’ve cried, boxing pads we’ve punched and friends and relationships and jobs we’ve said goodbye to in our lives mean it will be plain sailing from here, no.
And I’m talking collectively here.
We’ve done a lot to get where we are and we’re starting to see it pay off.
So why, when we get that glimpse of a life we love, are we so sh*t scared of embracing it?
Is it because we don’t know what comes after that?
Is it because then we’d have to give up the struggle and the pretence and embrace the fact that we have in fact created a life we love, however imperfect?
Is it that we feel guilty that there are so, so, so many people both in our own backyards who aren’t happy with their lives, or don’t even have a shot at making their lives happy or fulfilled?
Or is it simply that we don’t know how to turn our brains off?
I’d wager it’s a bit of all of the above.
So, what next?
Not even tongue-in-cheek, I think about what some of the world’s most objectively successful women might say (I’m thinking here Oprah, Beyonce, Ellen…the big leagues). I reckon they wouldn’t apologise for crafting their lives into something they enjoy and are proud of, and would encourage us to follow their lead.
Then I consider what my mum would say, or what my grandmother might have said. ‘Just stop being so dramatic and get on with it’ would, I suspect, be the advice.
I hate to pull the Millennial card, but we have been raised with slightly elevated expectations for our lives. There seems to be a weird tension between believing that we deserve the life we want, and feeling guilty about you know, actually getting there. I’d be the first to say that’s not just a first-world problem but also pretty indulgent, and one that only the very privileged have the luxury to consider.
Here’s what I think: nothing stays the same, so use the experiences you’ve had as a source of strength and wisdom. As you learn and grow don’t be ashamed to let go of the struggle, surrender, and learn to go with the flow of life that you’ve created. Hard times won’t stop coming but you are better equipped to deal them. As long as the happiness and joy and space you’re making in your life is aligned with your values, your passions, and your ever-developing skill set, you’ll be right as reign.
And if in doubt consider: what would Oprah do? She might say:
You are free to have the life you dream of.