As I had mentioned earlier, I recently was fortunate enough to be invited for a teaching interview a few weeks back. This morning (Saturday) I was welcomed again for a second teaching interview. It did not go very well to say the least, however the owner was very gracious and sat down with me and to give me some pointers to get better. She also invited me back to teach Monday morning. One thing she had mentioned was becoming more rooted within myself in order to connect deeper with the students and people around me. I found this to be an interesting take, as I spend a vast majority of my days alone in my own head rooting down and out many parts of myself. Still l as I rolled her carefully chosen words over in my head, I began to ask myself, is it possibly my issues as a introvert?
When you open yourself up to be a yoga teacher there is a sense of community and openness that is expected of you to maintain. You are expected to connect on a personal level with every student, even in group settings. To introduce yourself to every student, look them in the eye, and become a community leader in their eyes. Sure if you are teaching at a studio you are already a part of, this is easy. However when you are trying to start at a new studio, it can be a bit more challenging, particularly to those of us whom prefer the quite nights in to going out.
When you are an outgoing introvert, you need a certain level of comfort with a social group, in a particular position, or at a certain place to be able to function in a way most people would expect. Its not that we wont break into new situations outside of our own comfort zones, it just takes a little more for us to be able to be the outgoing loving people we are known to be by our close friends. Some situations can take longer than others, and some may never take at all. So when interviewing in any situation, particularly one where you are the “center of attention” it can cause you to withdraw even further inside, when you are supposed to be outgoing.
Nonetheless, the advice that was given to me not only made me question my social awkwardness as an introvert; but also got me to asking what causes these feelings of withdrawal from the world? In asking this question about myself I dug deep, and realized that it was a combination of issues. Two points particularly stuck out in my mind, the ‘fear of rejection’ and my own childhood.
There is a lot to be said about the fear of rejection, particularly as a Yoga Teacher. For some this very phrase brings up multiple talks about not worrying about what others thing, to a variety of conversations regarding dating and the relationship between the genders. However when it comes to an introvert it is a bit deeper than people just not wanting to date us or looking to impress someone. Rejection is something that is deep seeded in ourselves that started when we were rejected as youths for mostly our thoughts and ideas by those closest to us. In the darker sense it breeds the idea that no one can understand us like our own selves, and this causes a huge suck into the inner world of our own hearts. It is not particularly that we care about what others think, or we are worried about someone not wanting a continuing relationship with us; but rather the idea that everything that we are will be rejected. Both as an introvert and as a yoga instructor we are putting ourselves out there in a massive way, we are putting our very hearts out to be vulnerable; leaving many unable to stop the pull in.
Not to put too much into the idea of a therapy blog, however our childhoods have a massive effects on us as adults. I am not harping on people’s parents or excusing behavior on ‘that’s how I/you were raised’; rather looking objectively at the development of an introvert. For me personally there were two contributing factors to becoming an outgoing introvert. One was that I was an only child that went to a very small school and lived in an isolated environment (this seems pretty self explanatory). Two was that I ended up feeling like I always had to explain myself to everyone. When I say everyone, I do mean everyone. There were plenty of thoughts, feelings, expression, etc. that I had as a child that I felt like I had to justify; and not just surface things but deep philosophical things. Like why I never cried when people died, or why I was not all that upset at getting cancer. Though it may seem surreal or dictated, in actual fact I had some deep faith based reasons for why I felt the way I did. However they were not ‘normal’, thus verses feeling shut down every time I had an inkling of Self Expression, I just stopped showing the big stuff all together.
In putting this all together, you can see why a studio owner would sit down with me and tell me she felt I was disconnected from the class; because in truth I was. The introverted self was so fearful, self made walls had been put up. Sure at the studio I already teach at I am fine. I have deep connections that I have cultivated over the past year or so with my students, and love walking in and getting ready. However this was a new environment, with new students, new set of rules and criteria. So I panicked. I practiced instead of taught, spoke softly, and was for the most part withdrawn from the class because a deep subconscious part of myself was scared, and consciously I was unaware. I was ungrounded and not rooted in who I was in order to over come this situation. Thankfully I can not hind all of myself, and the studio owner saw that. She saw that there was potential in me as a teacher and is willing to continue to talk to me.
Being an introvert is difficult, but when you are trying to create a career based on something that involves so much interaction with people you do not know, it can be challenging. We have to undo years of conditioning we did to ourselves in order to get back to that space of easy connection. We have to work that much harder at communicating, at staying present, and mostly at being okay with being vulnerable.
Much love my introverted yogis, Practice in Peace and Love ❤