Time and time again, I have found myself becoming crystal clear, confident and grounded in my teaching capabilities and what I can offer and to whom.
Time and time again I have faltered and questioned what it is I can possibly offer in a world so rich in worthy talent and gifted teachers.
I have just caught myself teetering on the edge, succumbing to old patterns of self-doubt and insecurities, but rather than letting it take me down and feeling the savageness of these episodes, I am choosing to take another path…. I am going to journal it out and let it move its way through me, in the hope I catch myself and am reminded of just how far I have come.
Everyone likes to assume that by the age of 48 (nearly 49) and having been a yoga teacher for near on 15 years that I would have it totally sussed. And in general, I know myself well. I know where my gifts lie and where I need support but that has taken A-LOT of self-reflection and uncomfortable work in the shadows.
In the past I struggled hugely to believe that I was good enough. From primary school onward, these seeds of not being enough were sown into my young mind. I can’t recall one single event but rather an innocuous drip by drip effect of self-doubt seeping into my young impressionable and malleable bones formed from multiple off-the-cuff comments and seemingly minor playground events.
I came from a home that was saturated in love and was constantly buoyed up trying to make me believe I was more than good enough, but for whatever reason it wasn't quite enough to temper those doubts creeping in.
Secondary school came. I was the one who was good at making people laugh, who offered a good ear to friends but I was never quite the one at the helm of the friendship group. Not fully in with the ‘in’ group, rather skirting on the edges.
Secondary school passed. Average GCSE’s obtained. Sixth form and A-levels beckoned.
I scraped by with just ‘good enough’ grades to do Speech and Language Therapy at university. Again, only just good enough, never fully confident. Never fully secure in my own capabilities.
Anxiety and imposter syndrome seeping its way further into my psyche.
My first job as a speech therapist was at a specialist school working with children and young adults with profound and multiple learning difficulties. An accident surely?
I had completed one of my placements there and utterly loved the students but as a first job, I felt WAY out of my depths. How did I secure a position here?
Perhaps they hadn’t received any other applicants? I was young, green and felt I didn't belong.
Attending educational review meetings, helping decide the future of severely disabled young adults and children. I cannot tell you the inner panic, anxiety and fear of ‘being found out’ that I experienced. But when I was actually working with these amazing young people, when I was helping them communicate and developing communication systems for them, oh my goodness, what an utter privilege that was. Those beautiful students taught me SO much.
Forward another 2 years to becoming a mother. Perhaps for the first time, I discovered more of a stride, more of an inner peace. Certain aspects coming so naturally, it was like I had been mothering for years.
But as my first two babies where born just over a year apart my husband was simultaneously and silently drowning into his own mental health abyss. ,
It was brutal on so many fronts and for a good few years it was a melting pot of emotions. I went into survival mode. I recognise this now as running on pure adrenaline for more years than I dare think.
Doing, fixing, pleasing, fawning, running, tending, mothering, surviving.
I did not stand still. EVER.
And then I qualified as a yoga teacher. What had been my salvation and a tool in self preservation when I needed it the most, was going to be something I was able to offer to others.
Again, the old stories returned. I floundered. I felt I didn't belong. That I was too young to know how to teach. What could I possibly offer anyone?
It mattered not that I had people telling me how much they enjoyed my class. That they were able to let go of their day and rest and find moments of calm. It mattered not that I was asked to teach on a yoga teacher training course.
The threat of ‘being found out’ ravaged my already exhausted nervous system.
Still I kept on running, kept busy, refusing to really acknowledge what I was feeling. Putting it down to simple nerves and wanting to do the best I could. It was normal to be nervous before you taught a class right?
It was normal to become so nervous (read ~ anxious) before a teacher training weekend that I would read and re-read the dozens and dozens of notes that I made on whatever subject I was supposed to be teaching but once in front of everyone, literally not be able to read a single word as I couldn't see the page for panic. These weekends would leave me utterly exhausted as I had used every ounce of energy. I had been operating from my sympathetic nervous system all that time.
Of course, this was all going on under the surface.
Nobody would have had a clue. I had lovely feedback from students, I was being asked to teach on more training courses and rather than satisfying and settling my insecurities, acknowledging that perhaps I was ok, it simply gave me more fuel to feed this insatiable belief that I simply was not good enough.
I was the epitome of the graceful swan on the surface, but whose little feet were treading water so fast, the fact I never succumbed to the pull of the whirlpool I was creating still amazes me.
At heart, I was a little girl who doubted herself, who was always looking up to others, feeling intimidated and insignificant rather than settling into her own skin and recognising her own worth and gifts.
I had achieved so much and whilst perhaps I wasn’t the most clever of students, the best Speech and Language Therapist, yoga teacher, tutor, wife… I definitely was good enough. And I had achieved all of this whilst looking after three small girls and a sick husband. I gave everything my all.
So where am I today?
I am a messy complicated being with insecurities and oh so many flaws.
But.... I am also a being who is real, relatable and learning to recognise my worth, my richness, my uniqueness.
I have been through a lot. I continue to go through lot but I am also learning to live fully and importantly to HEAL.
I recognise like so many others, that I am on a healing journey.
There are multiple factors that shape our beliefs and thought processes. There are multiple life events that mould and re-mould us. We are malleable and just as we can be pressed into a shape to believe one thing as our truth, so to we can be re-shaped to fit a different set of belief systems.
I am ever evolving, ever growing, ever recognising that what I can offer is unique and authentic TO ME. I am willing to show up as vulnerable and have chosen to peel back the many layers that have built up over the years, to reveal the tender parts to heal and be fortified. I can give myself credit for stepping up and doing the work and admitting that
From time to time, my anxiety continues to make its self at home in my nervous system but now I am awake to its subtle ways. I don't ignore her or berate her but I do see her and more often than not call her out before she truly gets hold.
I see when anxiety is seeping in. I see the way my body and breath speed up. The way my jaw clamps down, my chest becomes tight, my breath shallow. I see when I am tempted to say YES to something from a place of scarcity/fear of missing out. But I also see and FEEL when it is a TRUE heart felt YES.
I now say a gracious NO thank you to those things that i don't feel an immediate YES to.
Pre-covid, there had been too many yes’s which should have been a no but I was too polite, too overwhelmed and just grateful that someone would ask ME to teach/talk/ present for them.
I am learning to recognise when I lose my way. When I begin to reacquaint old stomping grounds of 'comparisonitis' and imposter syndrome.
For me, these are acts of crippling self-sabotage in its purest most savage form.
I am not there yet, perhaps I will never be truly free of these shadows but I am working on it and being compassionate with myself in the process.
It is an honour to be surrounded by so many amazing teachers. There is so much I can learn from them and I am choosing to be inspired by them rather intimidated and feeling 'less than'.
On the days I may falter, I tenderly and without judgement, remind myself that there is so much beauty in a field of blooming flowers. One flower does not take the beauty of another flower away. They can be different and beautiful and unique and ALL have a place to stand and bloom in the sun.
I am tender and have been broken open many times. Each time I put myself back together with care, compassion and less judgment than the time before.
I am learning to use my cracks as a way into the gold buried beneath.
I continue to be on a healing journey.
I am so much more than just enough.
I am strong I am resilient and I stand radiant in the sun surrounded and supported by others.
May we hold one another up always.