Do you ever feel like you are just going through the motions? Doing what you think you’re “supposed” to do just because life dictates you should? That’s a lot of what my 20s were about, especially when it came to my career. I thought I was supposed to take a 9-5 job with benefits and a high salary. I thought it was normal to not like your job and live for the weekend. When I walked out the office door on Fridays, I was able to breathe in the freedom — until Sunday night, when dread crept in. I would have to endure another full week of work.
I would take long lunches, go into the office late, and switch jobs every two years, thinking that if I just worked at a different office, had a different boss, and was paid more money, then I would be happy.
In the meantime, I was on the search to find a career I actually liked. I looked into social work (helping people), school teaching (summer off!), pharmaceutical sales (no office). In the midst of this search for my real passion in life, I got my group fitness certification, started teaching classes on the side, and a few years later completed my 200-hour yoga certification. Little did I know that I had already found my passion and purpose in what was a seemingly fun part-time gig.
This is where the real journey began.
I was let go from a job for the first time when I was about 25, and it turned out to be such a blessing. I spent the next seven months focusing on teaching and collecting unemployment. Finally I was working hard because I wanted to. I loved teaching and it didn’t feel like work.
However, soon fear and doubt decided to stop by and say hello. Within a few weeks, I was back at a freelance job, and three months later another full-time job. I remember thinking, “Am I really going back to an office job?” The thing is, it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was exciting to go to a new job in a different area of the city and earn a higher salary, and it was comforting to be like everyone else, and have the “security” of it all. I thought it would be different this time. Yet, like clock work, I was miserable within six months. The cycle continued with three more jobs until finally something shifted.
One day, I was sitting in my favorite yoga teacher’s class and she asked us, “How many of you do what you love?” I thought she must be talking to me. She said she just knew that a 9-5 job wasn’t for her, so she sculpted her life in a way that worked best for her. I didn’t think it was possible to be as brave as she was. Even when I was in yoga teacher training, I convinced myself that I was just there to advance my practice. Finally I was so miserable, so compromised, so unable to breathe that the thought of taking the leap of faith and trying to do something that I really loved was less scary than that of being unhappy for one second longer. It was time to jump into what I knew I loved.
From the beginning, yoga brought me deeper into who I really am and created an internal love and strength that I didn’t know existed. Being able to share that with my students and truly make a difference has brought me the ultimate happiness and purpose. Teaching keeps me focused in the moment, and has opened my mind to so many ideas and possibilities. Even right now, I came home from a long day of teaching and instead of turning on the TV right away to “escape”, I’m sitting here writing about my career.
A year ago, I had a full time office job, five yoga classes I taught on the side, a small amount of savings, and NYC rent to pay. I knew what I wanted, and could not waste another second not living my real life. Then three weeks before I was planning to quit my last advertising job and take the leap into full-time yoga/fitness, I was let go, given three weeks severance, and the universe took care of the rest!
Within weeks my classes were building, my bills were paid, and the people in my life who had doubts about my decision saw how much happier I was becoming. My relationships have deepened, and I no longer sit at my desk thinking “if only….” I love Sunday nights and even look forward to Mondays. It’s nice to have a day off, but I don’t crave it. I eat healthier, I take yoga classes whenever I want, and I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. My whole world has expanded because I finally had enough faith in myself to take a chance on living a life I love.
I believe I was supposed to spend those years in the office wondering, waiting, and searching so that eventually I could find my way to where I am now. I’ve learned that the less I do, the less I worry, and the more I trust the more opportunities the universe provides.
If you’re feeling lost, confused, and worried, remember to give yourself a break. All you need is a commitment to yourself to be happy and the rest will come into focus. It may take some time, but it’s possible to love what you do. So when it’s time, take your own leap of faith, trust yourself and then watch your real life begin.