Someone Like Me, Something Like That
When you teach a 5:45 a.m. sculpt yoga class, best practice is to skip formalities and dive right in; push ups, squats, and burpees are all fair game to start breaking a sweat. I’m going to assume the same is true for writing a blog post. So I’ll dive right in.
I’ve always been a bit different. Sure, everyone is. It seems to me that despite all being different, the majority of people are still dancing to the same beat. Humans by nature tend to follow the strongest beat, locked together in a robotic step towards predetermined notions of success and happiness all the while missing the spaces in between the beats. To me, these spaces are where expression happens. These spaces are where we take the dance we know as life, and make it something that is entirely our own.
As of this writing I’m 28 years old. I spent roughly 24 of those 28 years in the purgatory known as “shy.” I exclude my past year from that due to a journey that is at the very least strongly correlated to the time I moved to a new city and soon after that decided to check out a yoga class on the rooftop of a bar. I also exclude the first 3 years of my life from that purgatory as I was at that point too cute for such a cruel sentence to be handed down to me. So there you have it, 24 years. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first thing I remember from life is being strapped into a seat on the back of my mother’s bike as she struggled up a hill. Each pump of her legs carrying both of us a few feet towards our destination. When it gets hard, and we want to stop we’re powered by our heart and love for those around us to keep going. If there was ever anything I learned from my mother, this is it.
The next thing I remember was an occurrence that became more of a theme than a singular event.
“Why doesn’t he talk?”
“Oh, he’s just shy.”
Nobody thought to consider that the world in my head was more interesting than the market price for a bushel of corn. At the time I didn’t know there was a word for this, I just knew it wasn’t capable of holding my attention. Now I know it’s called "smalltalk," and it still isn’t capable of holding my attention. I dread the inevitable moment when someone approaches to tell me that it sure is hot outside! Like they had when it sure was hot outside last week. And when it sure was nice outside the week before that. All the way back to when it was cold outside. And, well, you get the point.
Children tend to not be self aware, so at what age I discovered “shy” and claimed it as my own, I can’t be totally sure. But for better or worse, it became a primary part how I was identified by others as well as by myself. I accepted it as my fate. Fate, because soon after that I learned that it’s not the way you’re supposed to be. At some other indeterminable place in time, I graduated out of being shy and into its nobler, adultier form.
I’m trying to imagine how such a graduation ceremony would look. Ideally, I picture a dimly lit coffee shop as each slightly misunderstood individual sulks across a spotlight to receive a congratulatory handshake from Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard. Realistically, it takes place in a bar surrounded by friends. I have the facial expression that has come to be described as “resting bitch face” and though I love the people around me more than I can express I just don’t have anything left to give them in that moment and I don’t know why.
Then, in a life of indeterminable moments something happened at a very determinable place in time. “I think I need to be dating someone…less introverted.”
Introvert. The way the word was used, laced with implications that don’t represent the way I see myself. These words: “shy,” “introvert,” both different names for the same state of mind. One I had locked myself into for most of my life while giving little thought to what it actually meant. My state of mind was the issue. Introvert is not.
I mentioned that I teach sculpt yoga. I originally set off to write about how someone like me goes about doing something like teaching sculpt yoga. If you take a standard yoga class, add weights, mix it with elements of a boot camp class, and a touch of Beyoncé you have yourself a sculpt yoga class. It’s hard, it’s loud, it’s not somewhere you would imagine the person who wrote everything before this would be. Especially not in front of 15 students, belting words of encouragement, doing everything in his power to will one, two, three more reps out of their shaking legs. Remembering that when it gets hard, and we want to stop we’re powered by our heart and love for those around us to keep going.
“He doesn’t seem like a sculpt teacher.”
Trust me, I know. I always liked TAKING class. I found a home on my mat; along with joy, confidence, and a community. When our studio manager asked me to consider teacher training part of me was interested, but most of me was laughing at myself. People like ME don’t do things like this. And then someone like me did it. I set out to prove to myself that this was something I could do. I never counted on loving it. The things that I thought were holding me back would ultimately set a foundation for how I approach class.
A line from “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” stands out to me. “He’s a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.” In a world where loudness is celebrated, associated with success and confidence. I was satisfied to simply take the world in. While the world was talking, I was listening. It’s easy enough to get by going to the strongest beat, but the spaces in between the beats are where the magic happens. People won’t always tell you how they feel, but they will always show you. So I watch, I listen, I understand.
A close friend recently told me that I was put on this earth to create experiences for others. It’s not something I ever consciously realized, but perhaps it’s always intuitively been with me. It is as part of me as my introversion and brown eyes. I’ve spent hours trying to conjure the right words to explain that I just “get it.” But, in the end, that’s what it is. I see things. I understand. I’ve spent my life observing the world, learning to tune in to find substance in the white noise. Though it may have taken longer than anything else, the ability to tune in to find substance in myself has allowed me to come to a place where I can share the space in my head with the rest of the world; one down dog, one crunch, and yes, one set of burpees at a time.