First off, let’s address the obvious – it’s been a minute since I published an article. I wish I could tell you that it was because I was meditating in some remote ashram in the foothills of the Himalayans or frolicking in the waves of Costa Rica on some fabulous yoga retreat; I wish my absence could be socially excused by a family emergency or a bout of the flu; I wish I had some tangible, understandable excuse to give you so you would instantly take me back, welcoming me home from a blissful trip with open arms…
but the truth is that I just haven’t been feelin’ it in a while.
Yes, this yogi, this self-proclaimed self-care guru, this Reiki Master and yoga instructor and meditation guide…got burnt out.
To be perfectly honest, I low-key hate the word “burnout.” It implies that our energy source, that spark that tells us to get up in the morning and do something remotely productive with our lives can somehow extinguish itself at a moment’s notice. Tend the flame, breathe sweet, nourishing oxygen into it’s embers, or watch as the whole thing dies like a cheap Yankee candle your aunt got you on your birthday…how depressing.
So instead, I’m going to call the last 4 months a hiatus. A hiatus that was taken voluntarily (and, okay on a physical level, involuntarily) from life as the picturesque, inspiring, Instagram yogi. A break from the inspiring quotes and sunset photos and perfectly edited shots in Dancer’s Pose. A complete departure from the alter ego that once seemed so natural, and now seems somehow forced and insincere.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
Ever since I was diagnosed with OCD and started undergoing treatment, I’ve felt a bit like a fraud. Because really, how could I stand proud and tall on my yoga blocks proclaiming the health benefits of this practice while I’m popping Ativan like a movie snack? How could I sincerely tell you that meditating and mindfulness and Reiki are the answer, when none of those things were enough to stop my nightly panic attacks at 2 in the morning? How can I claim to be some sort of trendy, put-together guru when there have been multiple days in the last few months that I haven’t left my apartment?
I’ll tell you how, by faking it on social media.
Look, I’m not here to bash Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat or whatever new platform the kids are using these days. That’s a convo for another time, girlfriend. But I am here to admit, once and for all, that my interactions online over the past few months have been complete and total Bullshit with a Capital B.
Yes, there have been dozens of gorgeous sunsets outside my window. And yes, I have stopped crying or panicking long enough on occasion to watch them. Yes, I have a super cute puppy. Yes, I’ve plopped onto my mat a time or two. But these little moments represent less than 10% of my life over the last 3-4 months.
Here are the parts of my life you aren’t seeing in the scarce-yet-perfectly curated content I’ve shared recently:
- I’ve switched and tweaked my medications twice now and cried for a whole week each time.
- I’ve curled up in a ball on my couch repeating “bad” over and over again in intervals of 8 over a stupid mistake.
- My dog pissed all over our couch, carpet, and kitchen floor because of a UTI.
- There were weeks (not days) when I wore absolutely no makeup and forgot to brush my hair for so long that baby dreds started forming in the back of my head.
- I wore the same yoga pants for 3 days in a row without ever stepping foot onto a yoga mat.
- I intentionally ignored calls, texts, and messages from friends.
- I almost broke up with my fiancé and spent 2 nights at my parents’ Park Avenue apartment.
- I lied about meeting my word count each day for the book I’ve barely written.
- I cleaned my entire apartment to avoid doing any actual work.
- I auditioned for a permanent teaching spot at my studio and didn’t get the gig.
- I maxed out a credit card.
- I spent a night in the ER and 4 hours at Planned Parenthood.
- I ordered a bunch of useless shit on Amazon Prime.
- My face and back started breaking out.
- I threw up from the stress almost every morning and was convinced I was pregnant. I wasn’t.
- I got into fights with my family.
- My yoga mat started collecting literal dust.
- I made up excuses to miss meetings and appointments so I could stay home.
- I stopped having sex.
- I got drunk.
- I ate a bunch of junk food.
- Etc. etc.
Is any of that glamorous? Fuck no. That’s why it’s not plastered all over my tinted grid for the whole world to see. But really, at what cost?
When I look back on the last few months, I wonder what it all would have been like if I’d opened up about my mental health. Would my “brand” (yuck, gag me) suffer? Would my “fanbase” (again, so gross) leave?
Did I really care?
Obviously I did at the time, otherwise you would be well aware of this by now. But when did becoming “The Yogi Lawyer” prohibit me from sharing all parts of me? When did I let the pressure of the “wellness industry” get in the way of my most vulnerable, authentic self?
After all, I started this blog two years ago by sharing my most vulnerable truth at the time; that after incurring over $60,000 in student debt, enduring 3 years of law school, and passing 2 bar exams…I didn’t want to be a lawyer. Why was that truth so much easier to swallow than the idea that meditating and asanas had fallen on the back-burner?
Why was it easier to ditch my lawyer persona than life as The Yogi Lawyer?
Anyone working in the health industry – especially in the wellness space – has probably felt this at one time or another. Why? Because we all have one big ol’ fat savior complex.
That’s not to say that our intentions are flawed or that we honestly think we can save you from your shitty life. I’ve personally never come across a blonde Instagram influencer in wheel pose that claims to be the Next Messiah. But we do claim to have a better mousetrap, an alternative way to live life that leads to inner peace, healthier choices, fewer wrinkles, better sex, and less stress. We believe, with the most open of hearts, that if you listen to us – if you try that meditation or subscribe to that podcast – that your life will be better off.
We don’t necessarily believe that we have the answer, but we definitely have an answer.
So what’s a yogi in 2019 to do when the shit hits the fan and everything falls apart? Tell an entire room of students that the rent was late? Record a podcast about the struggle to find your orgasm on an anti-depressant? God, talk about a buzz kill.
But maybe that’s just what we need; maybe we all need to stop shielding our true lives – the parts that are messy and complicated and sad and imperfect – with the a filter. Perhaps if we stopped living out our days in Valencia or Rise or Hudson, if we stopped sharing all those inspirational quotes in flowy fonts, if we stopped following and unfollowing accounts to increase our reach…maybe we’d find a bit of honest community.
Imagine what your social media feeds would look like if we all just stopped trying so damn hard to be perfect. Imagine scrolling through Instagram and seeing your best friend from high school knee-deep in her baby’s poop instead of those cutesy drop cloths that tell you she’s 6 months old, has 4 teeth and loves Peppa Pig. Imagine watching someone’s Facebook Live and learning that they’re going through a bout of depression or anxiety instead of their takeaway’s from the latest self help book to hit The New York Times’ bestseller list. Imagine what life would be like if Kim Kardashian showed us what she looked like when she was home alone with just her kids and Kanye. Imagine how we would all feel if Gwyneth Paltrow stopped trying to Goop so hard and told us about the food poisoning she got from Butter last weekend instead.
Maybe imperfection is the true lesson and practice. Perhaps it’s not about the number of Sun Salutations you can do or the malas you wear or the hours you spend in meditation. Maybe none of those hot Vinyasa classes or essential oils or cute yoga clothes have a damn thing to do with any of it.
Maybe we’re really here to sit with these imperfections. To sit with the discomfort. To accept ourselves as we truly are – orgasm-less, dred-locked, broke, scared and all. Perhaps our path to enlightenment – the road to peace and love and acceptance – begins when we shed the filters and share own our own vulnerabilities with one another.
Perhaps admitting that none of us – not Deepak Chopra or Oprah or Michelle Obama – are in any way perfect. Perhaps life as an imperfect yogi is the only honest way to be a yogi at all.