Mount agung in the sunset Life thoughts

The working culture that made me escape

I want to tell you something about the working culture in my home country. Still, to this day i am affected by this culture. I realized it one day while i was laying in my hammock. I suddenly felt guilty and started thinking i should go out and do something. People are going to start thinking i am not doing anything. I had to literally calm myself down and tell myself it does not matter. And how the reality really is: i am doing a lot.

Every single day i practice teaching yoga. Every single day i listen to educational podcasts. Every single day i study yoga philosophy. Every single day i write a lot down my own thoughts about it. Every single day i study sequencing.

Gili trawangan island yoga

And all this i do on a tropical island, laying in my hammock, or on the beach, while enjoying it. And enjoying the life i am having. And because i am enjoying it in a beautiful place, it makes me feel like i am not doing enough. I am just being lazy and having fun.

I have gotten rid of many things that have been planted into me, but this one just sticks. The constant need to feel and be effective. That’s a result of first bosses being bullies (the feeling of never being or doing enough, never getting a thanks or appreciation for what you have done) and the idea that what matters the most in your life is how much you work.

Gili trawangan island yoga

A few examples of this culture:

  • Once i heard a lady say she does not understand why the room for employees to take a break is right next to where the customers are being served. She was shocked that they would actually let people see the employees going in to take a break.
  • A place i worked at provided me food for lunch, but i was not allowed to eat there so customers would not see me. Eating. Doing something totally normal everyone does.
  • At my first job ever the room of the lady boss was right next to where i worked. She had a window to my working spot and she was by the window, all day, looking at me. When she would see me stop to stretch or adjust my position or leave for toilet, she would come to me and say “i have been keeping an eye on you and you do not do your work efficiently enough”.
  • I got fired from a job the day before my salary was supposed to be raised. I sent a letter through a lawyer to demand for the money and the papers that legally belonged to me and i got a call from the ex boss, a grown up woman. She told me i do not deserve anything in life and she is not surprised if i never get another job because she knows people like me and people like me are lazy and inactive.
  • The fact that many employers bully the young people who come to work for the first time in their lives: they don’t know their rights, they are not being treated well, and they start despising the whole idea of working – that is exactly what happened to me when i was under 20 years old. The horror and the anxiety of having to face another bully as a boss made me not want to apply for jobs, and this made me lazy and not worthy in the eyes of the society and in the eyes of other people.
  • When i told someone about this, they said “that’s how it is to be a working adult. No one of us has it easy.” It is when i started wondering for the first time, is this what life is going to be like? Is this what i am going to have to accept?
  • When i was leaving to my first backpacking trip, some people asked me “how can you leave when you don’t know how the economical situation will be when you get back? You should rather grab this job now and hold on to it.”
  • When i got back, many people were only interested in what job i am going to apply now that i am back.
  • I feel that the quality of you as a person depends on how hard you work. People burn out and they are respected as “hard workers”.
  • I feel like the general idea is that if you do enjoy your job and what you do, you are really not working hard enough. Are you really working at all?
  • Once i read from the newspaper that at some day cares the children use a time card to log themselves in and out “to get them used to the working life from early age”.
  • The fact that if you are chatting with your workmates and enjoying working, maybe even laughing, you are not apparently getting your job done properly.
  • Basically the whole idea that the job you have is the most important part of you, and the more you work the more worthy you are.
  • + I will never understand why “stress managing” is a thing – oh, she handles her stress very well. She is a good employee. Hard working. When actually instead of managing the stress, i think we should be aiming to reduce it. Even to get rid of it one and for all.

Gili trawangan island work

… and how the ability to work under pressure is so appreciated

The least favorite thing of mine when looking at advertisements for jobs: when almost every single one of them say “you need to be able to keep a smile and work well under pressure.” It makes me cringe. Big time. Because some people, including myself, just do not work like that. They do not do their best work when being pressured by the task, the people around, the customers or the bosses. They lock up. They lose their ability to act. Even the simplest tasks become hard. Like copying papers. I feel that instead of wanting the employees to work well under pressure, the most important thing an employer can do is to try to reduce it. It’s a big part of their responsibility to make the working environment kind. So that people can flow, their smiles can be real and they can work better, they can do the job and the task better.

Beach yoga in Gili Trawangan island

I know from my own experience it is possible to work like that. Without being pressured from anywhere, with a kind environment of non-judgment and understanding, with bosses that are nice for you and give thanks. Not only i did enjoy going to work, i did everything i was supposed to do, and i did it well. Change that into a bully-boss who pressures me and breathes on my neck – i lose my ability to work. And it has nothing, really, to do with how good of an employee i am. It has everything to do with self love and respect and deciding i deserve better, i deserve a surrounding that will treat me like a human. And now, at 28 years of age, i know i will never accept bad treatment from people ever again. It does not matter if they are my bosses or anyone else i cross paths with. All of us deserve to make this decision for themselves. To stand up and change for the better.

Drop the self-doubt, make it happen Life thoughts

About overcoming self-doubt

When i thought about teaching an actual yoga class someday, i was immediately filled with self-doubt. Just some of the thoughts swirling in my head:

How the hell can i do this?
What if i freeze in the middle of the class?
What if i forget what to say?
What if i mix up left and right?
What if i forget what a leg is called?
What if my instructions are not clear?
What if everyone hates my class?
What if i am not creative enough?
What if the other experienced people and teachers judge me?

Drop the self-doubt, be here now, be there later

And have you ever had this moment: You have to do a thing. Then you watch someone else do the thing. And comparison starts eating you up: maybe i should do it more like her? Maybe i should also include this and this.. Maybe i should use these words, they seem better than mine. She did it so well, mine is nothing compared to hers. What if others will compare us? They will probably not like mine as much. Maybe i should try to make mine more like hers.

I feel myself wanting to curl up to a little ball and stay there. Forever.

Self-doubt is heavy to carry. It weighs you down. It’s a real, deep feeling that eats you up in tiny little pieces until you are left as a nervous wreck. And it’s up to you to either let it happen or stop it before it really begins. And when you think about it a bit deeper, it’s only lies. It’s all what-ifs. It’s not reality, it is an illusion in your own mind. It’s nothing that has happened already, nothing that’s happening to you right now.

I explored my feelings and came to the conclusion that my self-doubt is caused by the following things:

  • fear of not being perfect (=messing up words, mixing left and right, forgetting something, not being clear enough)
  • fear of judgement (=what if they will hate it? what if they will think i am not good enough?)
  • comparison (=the teacher i had before was so good, i am not as good as they are.)

Drop the self-doubt, find your own way

My advice to myself for overcoming self-doubt

  1. Your breath is your strongest ally. So be there with your breath. Connect with it. Every time you remember, come back to your breath.
  2. Acceptance. Practice fierce, radical acceptance towards the fact that you are feeling this way. Tell yourself it’s okay. You are human being with feelings. There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong if other people see your nervousness. So accept your feeling instead of fighting it. Acknowledge it but don’t dwell on it. Create space around it. You are a human, you have a feeling, and it’s fine.
  3. Get out of yourself. No one is thinking about you as much as you are. No one is thinking about your performance as much as you are. No one is thinking about your speech and movements as much as you are. Literally no one cares about it as much as you do. No one judges yourself as much as you do. So get out of yourself and realize: it is not about you.
  4. I repeat: it is not about you. It is about the people who come there to practice with you. It is about sharing what you know with them. You are just there, in between the people and the yoga. It has nothing to do with you or how you mixed up left and right and how you forgot the name of a body part.
  5. If someone is judging you – this also has nothing to do with you. Someones judgement does not define you. It does not define your practice, your knowledge, your class. It only has to do with the person who is judging and their inner journey. It is none of your business what they think about you.
  6. No one expects perfectionism. Neither should you. You have seen your favorite teachers make mistakes. They don’t dwell on it, they don’t stop to think “oh man, i messed that up. Damn, what do i do now? I can’t believe i made a mistake”. They carry on without apologies. They are used to it. Because it happens to all of us, literally. So why should you expect perfection from yourself? As you know, expectations create fear. When the fear is there, you can’t focus on the doing. So drop it. Drop the perfectionism and know that whatever happens, it’s ok.
  7. When you compare yourself to another person and how they do a thing, you start drifting away from your authentic self. When you try to follow a script that’s not natural to you, you drift away from your authentic self. And when you drift away, you are trying to play a role: a role of yourself, a role of something else, a role of the perfect teacher you want to be. And when this happens, you start automatically being more insecure, more clumsy, more not-knowing-what-to-do-and-say. So be authentic. Be how you are, right at this moment. Do not try to be who you want to be after two years of practice. Do not try to imitate someone else. Do not lose the authenticity. “Start where you are, with what you have.”
  8. And remember: whatever happens in your first class, second class or on the 150th class, does not define you as a teacher.

Beatles ashram in Rishikesh India

With these things in mind, i will start preparing myself. By practicing compassion towards myself, practicing acceptance towards all the feelings that are rising up. And by keeping it super simple for now.

Morning beach yoga, vasisthasana Life thoughts

This is the life now.

I wake up to the sound of rustling leaves and the wind shaking the bedroom windows. It’s 5 am and for a little while i dwell on the feeling: imagining i am in Finland, it’s cold and dark outside, i have to get up and go outside to the freezing rain. This image is a way for me to remember to count all the blessings life is offering me right now. So that when i open my eyes, i tap right in to the reality. This is the image that made me the most anxious when i used to be at home. But now, I get out of bed, walk into the front door and open it to the warm tropical morning. The wind greets my face as i let the loudly meowing cat in.

Mount Agung in Bali

The reality and the blessings. I can pack my bag and my yoga mat at 6 am in the morning. I will bicycle to the beach that is less than five minutes away. See the sun rising from behind the Rinjani volcano in Lombok. Do my morning yoga practice as the sun rises. Then buy a cheap meal of rice and vegetables from a local woman. I can read and study while laying in my hammock, i can lay on the beach next to the ridiculously turquoise sea, i can breathe in the ocean air. I can call this my home now.

Dancing on the beach

For a long time i had a huge “india hangover”. It was really hard to come back to a world that was so quiet and so organized. To walk the streets where no one was honking. No crowds, no cows, no noise. And strangely, i missed it. I missed the chaos and i missed all the feelings i had while i was there. The ridiculously drugging feeling of bravery, the thrilling feeling of being on my own in such a place. And being back in familiar, peaceful Bali was a big shock. Coming to the Gili Trawangan island, that had been quieted by the earthquakes, made me feel strangely lonely. I was surrounded by new people, who were to slowly become the people i would interact with every day from now on. Suddenly i was here, settling down for a while.

abandoned temple in bali

Every morning, every day and every evening i would repeat myself the words someone said to me while in India. “Promise me you will try to find stability in your life.” And i keep repeating them, still. And slowly, little by little, i have been finding glimpses of a ridiculous joy. I danced around my house and told myself, this is my new home. Here is my new kitchen. This is my room, my bed, my hot water shower. This is my garden and i am going to give it my love. This is my new cat, these are the kittens and i can watch them grow. This is my porch and these people are my neighbors. And this is my life.

Biking towards the sunrise

A comforting feeling of stability is slowly coming for me. I have set up a routine of practicing and reading. Studying yoga texts and planning classes. Because sooner or later, on this island, i am going to teach yoga for real. And it makes me both excited and scared. Mostly excited. For the first time in my life i feel like i know what i am doing and i know what i want to do. I have goals that i know i will keep reaching for.

Gili Trawangan beach

The thought of accidentally moving to Indonesia even though i was supposed to go back home in May feels so funny. A few days ago i closed my Finnish sim card. Soon i am trying to register an Indonesian one. I gave up on the phone number i have had since i was eight years old. That’s twenty years. The life as i knew it has already changed so much in the last nine months i have spent away from Finland – i am ready to let go of it all. Even my old dear phone number.