Since my move to another city, I have been grappling with who I am. Not because I knew that answer before I moved, but because it was easier to hide behind the roles I so comfortably played in my previous life. I was a mother, a yoga teacher, a friend, a wife. Better even, I was known to the outside world in these roles. People knew who I was.
In a new city, no one knows me at all. In particular, I am basically unknown in my role as yoga teacher. Now this was a part I played well, with enthusiasm and for a very long time. I spent years perfecting my role and my reputation in the surrounding areas where I lived. I was definitely a big fish in a little pond. And I liked being a big fish. Somehow name recognition provided me with some form of external validation that gave me my worth and identity.
I once had a yoga related project with a friend of mine that attracted the attention of a literary agent and publisher. At the meeting, after looking over our work, the publisher said she loved the project. And then she said, "But who are you?" I was crestfallen. I wanted to scream "I am a human being! I am a creative thinker! I am an insightful teacher! I am as equally thoughtful as many of the currently published teachers out there who seem to have the same ideas I do and express them in much the same way I do. I am a really POPULAR yoga teacher where I live and they know who I am-they'll vouch for me. I make a difference in their lives!"
Mark Nepo says, "...demons take many forms but two recurring names are ambition and the need to be accepted...the challenge, constantly before us, is to make a difference among the living, while not being intoxicated by the hubris that we can change the world." (The Endless Practice, page 254). So, like a tree that falls in the forest when no one is there, am I making an impact if no one knows I'm here?
Today I work everyday to reconcile the fact that I may teach in relative anonymity for the rest of my career. But in my process to gracefully accept that idea, there is a deeper benefit that comes from it. It recommits me to my work for the sake of the work and for no other reason. It helps me to un-define myself through my work and relationships and re-define me in more permanent yet subtle ways. It ties me to the quality of my work as judged by me and not anyone else which is humbling and simultaneously illuminating.
I think 2019 could be the year I commit to being nobody . And from that I become anyone I choose.