My 27th birthday is coming up in a little under 2 weeks. My birthday is sort of like New Year's to me. I end up thinking a lot about where I am and what I'm doing and whether or not it's the right thing. With an outsider's eye, if I look at my life, it's pretty sweet: I have a business, a job I love (yoga teacher! Best job ever) a cute apartment, and a sweet partner that I live with. I would say this is a good list of things I would have wanted to check off by year 27. And yet, I suppose I'm still an angsty teenager inside, because I sure spend enough time doubting myself.
Things have changed so rapidly for me in the past year: at this time last September, I was heartbroken, scrambling for teaching gigs, and wondering what the heck was going to happen to my life. I feel like I became an adult within exactly a 12 month period [I have my own dentist now! And my parents didn't even find her for me! (Penny Thompson: she has a camera at her office so I saw all the gross cracks in my own teeth! She is also awesome. I digress.)]
Sometimes as things change in our lives, we have to make the choice to let some of the dead leaves fall off our metaphorical trees and decide what we want to plant for the next season. My responsibility level is so much higher than it was that there's just no room for me to be an amateur bellydancer or army base bartender or spoken word poet anymore.
So what I need to work on now is the quality of discernment--Viveka in yoga philosophy. What stays and what goes? What is real and true and what is just an illusion? Do I set aside time each week to go to a dance class instead of a yoga class? Do i start going back to the poetry slam again at the expense of the one night off my partner and I have together [he is not a fan of the slam]? Do I stay out and celebrate a friend's birthday when I teach a morning class the next day [the answer to that one is a resounding no]? Adult choices are hard! And these are relatively childish adult choices.
We change so much in such relatively short periods of time, it makes a lady wonder who she really is. Just a couple of years ago, I was serving drinks at a cheesy glow-in-the-dark bowling alley and pool bar in heels and miniskirts, and now you're lucky if you see me with anything other than yoga clothes on. [Heels are painful! What was I thinking?] Ironically enough, the savings I made from shaking my little booty while carrying 3 pitchers of beer in each hand paid for my yoga teacher training. [i think the tray carrying was also the beginning of the massive yoga triceps i have now. Trust me. Huge.]
So--Viveka. Which of these thoughts and desires are weeds, and which are the delicate flowers that need to be watered? How much can I express myself as an individual [poet, dancer] and also uphold the trust in the relationships I have with people and the world [partner, teacher, business owner]? Well I guess I sure have a lot of questions. I think for a lot of us it's a bit scary to stare down that abyss of questions, many of which simply don't have answers yet.
So as I peer down the horizon of my 27th year, the best I can do is try to remember why I am doing what I do--the core values that colour my intentions day to day. A big one for me is freedom: the freedom to think for myself, act for myself, and empower my students to make their own choices and gather the tools to make a work of art of their own lives.
But another intention is love. The freedom of the individual self reeling away from responsibility is not an individual filled with love. Love requires work, boundaries, and the support of a consistent community (and sometimes a partner who needs me, too). Love requires relinquishing the selfish illusion of freedom and finding a freedom that instead gives us enough to share with the people we love and make the world around us better in some way.
So, in conclusion, I still don't know who I am at 27, but I am getting a little clearer on how I am: in as few words as possible, eternally: working on it.