I did not grow up thinking I was going to become a yoga instructor, nor an avid yoga practitioner.
When I finally, formally, transitioned away from what I thought was my "career" less than 2 years ago, I cringed whenever anyone asked me what I did for a living. Given the professional/social network I cultivated over the years, this question came up a lot, especially in Los Angeles, where I live. In the beginning, post transition, I stuttered every time I was asked the "What do you do for a living?" question and could hardly even get the words "I'm a yoga instructor" out of my mouth.
Somehow, I felt ashamed. The shame part of it stemmed from having overly identified myself too much with a high-salaried career, which included hard-earned accolades with Fortune 500 companies, and having built a successful business from the ground up by the time I was only 25 years old. My sense of self was attached firmly to what I was raised to believe: That a person's worth is defined by her job title, success in chosen industry, and how much cushion is in the bank account.
Growing up in a consumerist, first world society where big and bigger, bling and more bling are prized over more simple gratitudes, this value system may feel familiar. Certainly, the cultural side wedged this belief system in pretty deep too. Before I was even walking, it was decided on my behalf that I was going to be either a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer.
I mean really, that's the reason why I graduated from a prestigiously ranked private liberal arts college, paid $150,000 in tuition, just to make sure that after I graduated, I was able to hit the workforce and become any of the 3 choices listed above, and make something of myself, right?
I was raised to believe that these "career" options provide stability, great salaries, a wage that a little yoga instructor would never make. And if I did not want to become any one of those options predetermined for me, I'd better choose a profession, or create a business that brought home a beefy paycheck. It didn't matter whether or not I enjoyed, or even loved what I was doing. Money was going to bring me joy. They were sure of it and I was sold on it.
Key word, "was."
As I was slowly moving away from my full time job and teaching what was almost a full time yoga schedule in between (and this process took nearly 3 years), thoughts were grating at me. What in the world was I thinking? How am I going to support myself? Who will I be, if I'm not making any money?
This vicious mind-numbing, fear-instilling, thought process was eating me alive. I realized that my mind was a complete train wreck. I needed to lasso the darn thing in and make a perspective shift in order for this all to have any meaning. Was it really all about the pursuit of "success" as defined by my upbringing, or is it truly about something more, something bigger, like a life's purpose driven by the seemingly ethereal idea of making the world a better place and giving back for the greater good?
...And if I was going to jump, I'd rather nose dive in rather than to poke around in the water with my toes. At the very worst, I'll face plant, but hey, I had a backup plan. If all else failed, I can always go back and climb the corporate ladder.
The moment I leaped, the Universe delivered. The moment I let go of what plans I had for myself, plans others had for me, and followed my bliss, the net appeared. It takes a courageous moment, a courageous mindset, and in the sentiments of Joseph Campbell, you can't "follow your bliss" mindlessly. You still have to have a courageous plan.
Everything else will fall into place.
I say this with pure conviction now, that having walked away from the work I was doing, the career I had, was the best decision I have ever made. It is interesting to watch myself as I type this. That's exactly it. It was "work". These days, I don't feel as if I work a single day in my life. My days are filled with opportunities to serve others, to bring health, balance and a sense of overall ease and well-being to my yogis. The wise say that once you find your passion, you'll never have to work a day in your life again. It is absolutely true. My only want? I would like to touch more lives in the most authentic, compassionate, healing way possible.
Love what you do.
If you don't, change it.
Get clear about what you want,
and surround yourself with supportive people.
The results may just surprise you.