Life has felt like a whirlwind these past few months. In September, I started a graduate program at the University of Washington (MS in Human Centered Design and Engineering, if you’re curious). In addition to learning a lot, this experience has made me reflect on how much our thoughts shape our reality.
Over the years, I’ve done a ton of personal development work to shift negative thinking, practice mindfulness, and become more aware of my thoughts in general. However, these past few months have shown me how the practice of self-improvement really is a journey and not a destination.
As my stress levels have increased and my schedule has become more demanding than ever, I’ve found myself drawn back into my regular yoga practice. I’ve talked about my connection with yoga here on the blog before in one of the most vulnerable posts I’ve ever shared, but recently it’s become clear to me just how sacred yoga is for my health and wellbeing. For me, yoga is a time to slow down and notice my thoughts, shift my perceptions, and restore balance to both my body and mind.
I have also found that yoga is playground for me to explore what is challenging me in the rest of my life when I’m off my yoga mat. With my current yoga pass, I have unlimited classes at my studio, but only for the classes during off-peak hours. On a particularly stressful Sunday, I decided to go to yoga and only had the option of taking the Intermediate class. As someone who for the past five years has taken the Beginner/All Levels classes, I found this a bit intimidating, but I still decided to go.
Since I was already showing up, I set my intention to use the time to try something new. I pushed myself to bend a little deeper into warrior II pose, hold upward-facing dog for just a bit longer, and even attempt sideways crow pose. The highlight of the class for me, however, was the transition between downward-facing dog and forward fold.
I’ve probably done this sequence hundreds of times, and every single time previously, I’ve always stepped from downward-facing dog into forward fold. In the Intermediate class, the instructor encouraged us to try jumping the transition. In that moment, I actually stopped and questioned myself: Why have I never tried jumping before? Why have I never even considered it?
The truth was I had never tried it before because I didn’t think I could do it.
In the spirit of practicing my intention of trying, I jumped from downward-facing dog into forward fold. And you know what? I completely nailed it on my first try. Granted, I stumbled a bit on second, third, and fourth try, but I did it. I’ve also continued to practice it in every yoga class since.
The point wasn’t whether I could actually do it. The point was not limiting myself and thinking that I couldn’t.
I know that in reading this, my epiphany might sound obvious or silly, but I cannot tell you how much the simple act of just showing up and trying has shifted other areas of my life, particularly in this career transition.
See, I never thought I was smart enough to be in an engineering program, let alone a graduate level engineering program. Even though I’ve always been an amazing student, have a previous graduate degree, and have several professional certificates, I never thought I could excel in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) career.
But, you know what? Every day I’ve shown up. I worked so hard to get into this program, and for the past six months, I’ve been working insane hours to excel at my graduate work, perfect my portfolio, and prepare for job interviews. Just a few weeks ago I accepted a position at a company that I’m really, really excited about and it feels amazing to finally see this hard work starting to pay off. I knew this journey wasn’t going to be easy, but I also now know that I can do it.
If nothing else, I hope that sharing this story with you encourages you to show up and try. We probably can’t get rid of all of our negative or limiting beliefs, but we can notice them and put them aside.
In closing, I want to leave you with this challenge: What is something that you want to do, but have been nervous or scared to try? How can you take one step forward this week?
Sending good vibes your way,