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what do you do

by practicewithdanielle

I’m reading a book that is (apparently) a requirement in the yoga/movement/bodywork world. I’m going to get kicked out if I don’t finish it soon.

It’s good so I’m recommending it to you here: “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk. 

As a yoga teacher it feels good to read things that, intuitively, I know to be true. I believe our bodies hold our stories that we may not be ready to uncover ourselves or say out loud to another person. It’s why some people have cried in a yoga class (just admit it already). Or why a teacher will say “release the emotions stored in your hips” which isn’t technically true but the words are coming from a good place. 
I read a passage the other day and it’s stuck with me so I’m sharing it with you here.

“Gerry smiled and asked if by chance I had become a mental health professional in order to solve some of my own personal issues. I confirmed that most people who knew me thought that might be the case. Then he asked if I found it meaningful when people told me their trauma stories. Again, I had to agree with him. Then he said: “You know, Bessel, maybe you need to learn to put your voyeuristic tendencies on hold. If it’s important for you to hear trauma stories, why don’t you go to a bar, put a couple of dollars on the table, and say to your neighbor, ‘I’ll buy you a drink if you tell me your trauma story.’ But you really need to know the difference between your desire to hear stories and your patient’s internal process of healing.”

If you’ve been following these emails, you know I’m deep into career exploration this summer. I’ve even started seeing a career coach because hard things get easier when you ask for help.

Which means I’m asking myself the uncomfortable questions that come with changing careers. Questions like:

How much do I need/want to make?
Does title matter to me and if so why?
Is non-profit work important to me?
Am I a bad person if I want to work for a corporation?
How do I move past failure?
Am I still productive outside the 9-5?
Does prestige matter?
Can a job just be about the money and nothing else?
Do I have to be passionate about my job or can my passions lie elsewhere?

I notice that people often enter careers for altruistic reasons. You’re a doctor because you love to help people. You’re a chef because you’re passionate about bringing healthy food to the masses. Or you’re in marketing because you want to spread important ideas (hi! me!).

But along the way you might find yourself in it for other reasons like money, title, prestige – things that sound good when people ask “what do you do”.

The jobs I’m considering now do not have great titles. They are not save-the-world jobs. They don’t come with a paycheck I’m proud of. And they don’t have a glittery response to “so what do you do?”

Yet, they feel like the thing I need to get where I’m going.

And since we’re friends I’ll be honest with you – it’s going to be a tough pill for me to swallow. 

The passage I copied from The Body Keeps the Score reminds me that when I hold my intention – the reason I’m doing something – close, I can better ignore the things that distract me from my mission.

Those “things” can live in the form of other people’s judgments, our own judgments, our egos, and society’s expectations. To name a few.

This is not easy and I’m living proof. My hunch is that if we’re willing to grit our teeth through the uncomfortable parts on our way to larger goals, we’ll come out stronger on the other side.


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