The past few years have been amazing, full of discovery and joy. As I was saying goodbye to my work community, transitioning to a new adventure, I started reflecting on how much my relationships have changed, and how grateful I am for the work I have done on and off the mat.
To set the scene (and my point) I will have to go back a bit: As a child, I was never great at having a lot of friends. I only had one or two best friends. I always interacted with a lot of people and cared about everyone I met, but I was very guarded with my own feelings. I was so worried about being perfect that it was difficult to let anyone ‘in’.
Once my friendships took a difficult turn or when I exposed too much of my own flaws, I would instinctively pull away and that deep friendship would end. I would then become so worried that I would lose friendships that I would never voice my own opinion, worried to upset, and then years later a built up explosion would lead to the next ruined friendship.
This trend continued past my college years. Not just with friendships, but relationships as well.
It was after a particularly dreadful and embarrassing relationship breakup that I began to observe the patterns happening over and over. I realized my people pleasing nature wasn’t helping anyone, including the people I wanted to please in the first place. I needed to figure out who in the heck I was, and why I felt so unworthy of a voice.
It took years of self-exploration, using running and yoga as my primary tool. I started to observe that although I was involved in many different communities, I guarded myself. It was this need to be perfect that prevented me from really experiencing the opportunity to connect with individuals all around me.
I started to slowly speak my mind; I surrounded myself with people that respected my opinion and encouraged me to speak up. I found mentors in work and other areas of my life that exuded the qualities I wanted to cultivate.
The key thing I realized – I needed to become Vulnerable.
For someone that always wants to be perfect to everyone in every situation, this is a REALLY difficult thing to do! The funny thing about life, you are always placed in situations that will help you grow the most.
Through personal and work situations, I slowly started opening up, showing my imperfections and every day getting closer to my own authentic voice. My mat practice was about connecting with my inner self, and my runs taught me I was strong enough to conquer any situation.
I found courage to stand up and say something wasn’t right, even if it wasn’t the ‘easy’ thing to do. When I made a mistake or handled a situation incorrectly, I found the voice to say that I was the person that made the mistake.
It was easier for me to connect with my team, and my personal relationships had a solid foundation of respect and understanding. Most of all, that community that I had craved all of those years, began to form around me.
It wasn’t that my actions had changed too much, but my ability to open my heart, expose myself flaws and all, with the courage to not run away, that made all the difference.
As I reflect on my life now, I realize how much richer my relationships are. I have beautiful people I care deeply about in my professional, personal, and yoga community. They all know my flaws: I am a micromanager, I can get very anxious, I go from goofy to serious in two seconds flat, and I think way too much, but they love me anyway.
I am still a perfectionist. But I am getting better about cutting down my emotional walls and I am incredibly excited to continue this journey with an amazing community by my side.
If this struggle of perfection and wanting to connect with your community resonates with you, then I encourage you to read a beautiful book one of my beloved yoga teachers, Jes, recommended to me: ‘The Gifts of Imperfection” written by Brene Brown.
I wish you a wonderful exploration on your mat, and on the road, finding a bit more vulnerability, courage, and self-love. Cheers to imperfection and the people that love us even more when we are our true, authentic self.