I have been feeling shame.
No, I have been knowing shame.
Knowing what it is to look at another teacher’s Instagram account and think, “I’ll never be like her.”
To hear a friend talk about her many academic projects and accomplishments and think, “I could never handle all of that work. I’m just not smart enough.”
To see people in my community be friends, and socialize, and think, “they will never want to be friends with me. I am too awkward.”
To be asked what I do for a living and blush, because I am not a celebrity teacher, or a novelist, or a widely published academic. I will never run for office, and I will never complete a marathon, and I will never, ever work in a corporate office tower, making a lot of money (again).
I’ll never wake up every single morning at five am to go to the gym, or to roll out my mat.
I just won’t.
But I am the one that will wake up to watch the meteor shower at two am, cold and bright on the deck, wrapped in a blanket, feeling small and vast and completely at peace with the stars.
I will never be the one that celebrates her perfectly sculpted body, and inspires women everywhere that yes, they can look like me, too.
But I can be the one that says, bodies are imperfect, darling. More so, they are impermanent. Your body will change, and it will fade. The important thing, is that she is precious—treat her as your most treasured friend, your sweetest ally.
Someday, we will look back on her, and we may regret how we punished her for being all too human.
I will never win a yoga challenge, and I may never stick handstand.
I will tell you that yoga saved my life. Not the yoga of the hashtag or the yoga of the ascetic or the yoga of the mat, even—yoga at the root, where we are told, where we come to know, that we are all a part of the universal source. Spokes on the same wagon wheel. Knowing that, how can we practice anything but compassion and kindness with each other?
I will tell you that yoga is the yoga to practice every day. That kind of yoga can be done as you wash dishes, without $100 pants on, without Instagramming the moment. #yogaeverywhere
I will never be the one that answers, “how are you?” with “great! Everything is great. Awesome, in fact!” (unless it is true).
I will tell you that in practicing radical self-acceptance, I work toward owning my shame, and practicing vulnerability. And I seek to connect with you on a level that honors our shared human experience. “Great, everything is great,” is to dishonor our connection. And that may come across as having less than social grace.
I want to know how you are, really. How is your soul, your heart? And may I tell you, of mine?
I will never pretend that I do not still have shame, that in my yoga practice and my healing practice and my decades of therapy that I have “healed” and all I have to do is “sit in it” and that everything is fine, just fine. Great, in fact!
I will tell you that I know shame well. I own her. I work with her daily, and together we try to find where she was born, and why. My practice, my healing- they are tools.
They are not cures.
I will tell you that you do not need to be cured—you are not a ham.
You need to be loved—radically loved.
I will never be the cautious one. The one that saves, or waits, or idles.
I will tell you that many have waited “until,” and that “until” never arrived. “Until” is a false promise, and it may never be realized. I will tell you to be brave, and to listen to your wise heart.
And to go for it. Your life is an adventure that only you can live. And the time has arrived.
No, I will never win awards for how many things I have achieved, for I do not seek achievement, any longer.
I can tell you that I seek fulfillment, and contentment, and peace—and the award for those things is sweeter than any acclaim.
Shame. I know her. I work with her. But I am not going to keep her.
I’ll never be her.
And that’s okay.
I will be me. And I will tell you—someday—that is enough.
Author: Kristin Diversi
Editor: Renée Picard