Be Who You Are. Not What You Do.

Recently, one of the places where I teach announced that they were closing the doors on December 1st of this year.  They will be overhauling the building for fourteen months before reopening as a more medically-based fitness facility complete with specialized doctor’s offices to be located on the newly added third floor.  The news came as a shock to employees and members alike.  The club not only provides a beautiful place to workout, practice yoga, swim, and receive massages and acupuncture, but has also created a social network for its members.  They’ve received support at each stage of their lives–whether it was the birth of a new baby, the death of a loved one, or any point in between–from other members as well as instructors and employees.

While this change is going to force members to find (what we hope is) a temporary solution to their health club needs, it’s also leaving the employees to sort out where they will work in the interim.  Some folks have “real jobs” and simply teach as a supplement to their income or for the sheer joy they get from instructing and sharing their passion.  Others teach and/or work at the club full-time, and are very unsettled about what comes next.  Aside from the obvious reasons–Where will they go?  Can other local clubs absorb this many employees/instructors?–there are also more subtle reasons that many of them may not see, and it isn’t something that is relegated only to those in the fitness/wellness industry.   It can happen to anyone who has chosen to allow their careers to define them, no matter if they are a doctor, attorney, mother/father, business owner, teacher, etc.  What happens when that role is suddenly taken away or altered?  Whether you are relocated, fired, choosing to start a new job, opening a new business, sending the kids off to college or to be married, etc., being faced with your own self-perception can be staggering.

Many of the people who I work with at this particular club have been there for years.  They’re the proverbial big fish in a small pond.  They know their jobs well, have established relationships with members and each other, and often feed off the adulation that is bestowed upon them as so-and-so’s “favorite instructor.”  Aside from needing a new source of income, there is also the insecurity of moving from rockstar status to the new kid on the block.  For some, the ego will probably take a bigger hit than the bank account.

I know that some people revel in being known by their profession, but I’ve never liked the question, “what do you do?”  It feels claustrophobic to me, like there is no room for anything else because I’m a ____________.  I’m not trying to take away any professional achievements or say that folks shouldn’t be proud of what they’ve accomplished in their careers.  But consider this:  If you work a job that requires 40 hours a week, and you sleep 7 hours a night, technically, you spend more time sleeping than you do working.  Would you answer the question, “what do you do?” with “I sleep?”  Of course not!  But I digress…

So, what’s my point?  😛  I suppose it’s that life is dynamic.  People are dynamic.  Nothing will always remain the same, no matter how hard we wish it would.  So, if you find yourself in a situation like I’ve described, don’t mourn the passing of the routine or familiar.  Be thankful for the opportunities and lessons that it has provided you and move on with your head held high.  You are not that job, that role, or that title.  You are YOU.  And it’s my bet that you’re a pretty awesome you, too…



About yogajolie

I'm a work in progress. Give me a sunny day at the beach followed by a late afternoon thunderstorm. My flip flops and running shoes somehow find rank and file among the melee of Manolos and high boots in my closet. I think finding bliss on a yoga mat is sheer happiness, but also enjoy lacing up and suffering...just a little bit...on a long run. Maybe this comes from my start in life. It began in Chicago, but we spent weekends and summers in a small beach town in Southwest Michigan. City mouse meets country mouse. Yin and yang. Juxtaposition. Balance. I'm fiercely independent, but after thirty-some-odd years on this planet realized that I'm also a little old-fashioned. *go figure* I'm mildly addicted to Kombucha. And eye cream. (I'm all about the moisturizer.) I appreciate good manners. Chivalry. Please and thank you. That's not to say that there isn't a little urban girl, punk rock heart still beating in my chest. There is. I've lived a lot of life so far...and miles to go before I sleep. So, that's me. I'm an East Coast girl with punk rock heart and a yoga soul. Practicing, playing, teaching and sharing as much as I can. I currently teach at two studios--it will be three as of September 1st, as I was recently named the Advanced Yoga class/workshop instructor for the newest location. Outside of my home studios, I offer workshops and private yoga lessons as well. Contact me if you want more information!
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