In high school, I had a friend who would always say, "I was supposed to do that," or "I was supposed to go to that party." This really meant someone had asked her to do something or go somewhere, but she had never actually committed. It made her sound very busy and important.
As adults, out of high school, we still say, “supposed to.” ‘I am supposed to mow my lawn.’ ‘I am supposed to have better-paying job.’ Says who?
I despise running (as a form of exercise, not as a way of escaping from a hungry bear, for example). Working with a bad-ass personal trainer last fall, I told her that I was frustrated with myself because I couldn’t run for very long without stopping. “So?” she said. “Don’t be so hard on yourself!” Oh. To hear such a strong female put it that way, it made me consider what I hadn’t before -- that I was being hard on myself.
When I first started teaching yoga, I had to write out every pose in the order I was going to teach it and bring that piece of paper to class. Eventually, I graduated to making a few notes in a notebook. But after seven or eight months of teaching, I began to be frustrated with myself for still needing my notes.
Searching for help with how to move on, I went out on a yogic limb and e-mailed a few celebrity yoga teachers who I admire. The gracious Kathryn Budig messaged me right back. She said, “This will pass. AND, you don't need to make anything perfect, because (yes, you know it's coming) it already is if you do your best.” Bam. There it was again. An extremely strong woman I look up to telling me it was O.K. to be where I was. Since then, I’ve come to the realization that, as a fiery, naturally forgetful yogini, I may always need a few notes to keep me on task.
What Kathryn told me is exactly what I would say now -- and do say -- to my yoga students. Who says you are “supposed to” be able to press up into headstand? You may believe that you ‘should’ be able to because you have strong abdominals and have been practicing yoga for X number of years, etc. Those things mean you have the physical capacity to press up into headstand, not that you are falling short if you can’t quite get there.
Who says you are ‘supposed to’ meditate as soon as you roll out of bed? Probably lots of very wise people. But are you ‘supposed to?’ Are you falling short if you don’t? No. Life happens. You don’t need to be perfect. You already are if you’re doing your best.