How it feels in a nutshell: nervous, exciting, scared, self-doubting, unsure, anticipating, thrilled, courageous and hopeful.
Now allow me to elaborate.
I recently made the decision to enter into an additional 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training. In typical me-fashion, it took months of internal debate, and sometimes external debate using my friends and loved ones as sounding boards for my struggle (thanks for listening by the way!). The idea loomed over me, larger than life but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that it was time to take the plunge. To have a little faith and take a chance on ME.
This decision has been quite a practice in overcoming self-doubt. Whenever chances like this come along and I grab their coattails, my inner critic throws a big comedy roast for the little person inside me who’s trying to break free and find something bigger than myself. It likes to drag up a lot of things I try to forget, and use them as logical reasons to persuade me from following my passions.
Sometimes I can still hear the voices of people from the past, haunting me, taunting me, instilling in me an incredible fear that I could never amount to anything. Whenever it comes to taking a huge leap of faith like this and betting an enormous amount on myself, I can hear the old, cruel words trying to cripple me again and I sink back into that scared little girl, that terrified me of just a few years ago. The one that shook so bad in fear that I could never do the right thing in my abuser’s eyes, that I could never be good enough. Shaking so bad my hands dropped pans as I tried to cook dinner over his endless criticisms, eventually freezing up because the fear was so strong that I was literally trapped inside my own body. Unable to move, hardly breathing, the periphery of my vision blurred in fear. Constantly on the defense, ready to run and hide if temper or his drug habits called for it.
I can’t do this, I thought. What if I give up? What if I fail? What if I can’t really take on such a big commitment? What if I can’t commit at all? What if I’m too stupid, not strong enough, and can never do anything right? What if they try to make me practice inversions in the middle of the room and I make a fool of myself? Inversions (aka handstand) still scare me sometimes, but that’s a separate story mostly focused on the fear of losing control and not being capable enough. Hmm…maybe it’s more related than I thought.
And just like that, my decision froze in its tracks. In fact, it turned around and ran in the opposite direction. You can’t catch me! It yelled as it streaked away with my lunch money.
I’m not going to do it, I convinced myself, for a whole host of “valid” reasons. The financial commitment, the time commitment, this, that and the other thing over there. But at one point, I realized I was just making noise (something I’ve been guilty of in the past – just ask my dad and you’ll understand why I was no longer allowed to wear tap shoes in the house as a kid). I was just trying to clank pans and distract myself from what my inner, little, teensy, gut instinct voice was whispering to me. I tried to drown it out with the trumpets of a thousand cruel things some idiot once said to me. But god, that tiny voice is often the most important one to listen to. As some great person or another once said, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow.”
My training starts this week. So how do I feel after this brief exploration of the self? Still scared, still uncertain, still doubting a little bit, but screw it, I’m gonna listen to that quiet inner voice. Because my inner critic has run the show for far too long.