If you’re anything like me, you used to do the opposite of what your mother would tell you to do just to prove the point that you are your own person. You dated the person you knew your family would despise. You spent your whole undergraduate career earning a degree in something that was more artistic than lucrative. You denounced the religion you were raised in simply just to rebel. Especially during those teen years and early twenties, you saw yourself as invincible and dangerously entitled.
Don’t deny it. Don’t try to kid yourself.
We were all there.
And hopefully, you broke out of that entitlement and realized limitations are not a bad thing. No, you should not stomp out anyone’s rights just as they should not stomp out your’s. I’m talking limitations as boundaries, healthy boundaries that let you know you are not ready to go beyond a certain point and boundaries that let you know okay it’s time to move past this.
This Sunday in yoga, the instructor–who I will call Ariel–kept saying “Find your edge” throughout the class.
Find your edge. I love that line. It’s such an improvement over the old saying “Know your limitations.” Let’s face it: who wants to be limited? No one! But we are all human beings. Superman and Superwoman do not exist (sorry my fellow nerds).
We all have our boundaries. Our bodies have limits. Mentally we can only go so far before we begin feeling drained. Financially we must act within a budget or else risk falling into debt. You get the picture.
There is only so far we can go.
And that is okay.
Yoga helps to find your edges physically and mentally. This Sunday I found out I wasn’t quite ready for a new pose. I thought I was, but I should’ve listened more closely to what my body was telling me, instead of riding on the goal of proving something. Now, I have a pulled muscle somewhere around my shoulder blade to teach me a lesson. But the theme of that yoga class can be taken beyond the studio and applied to daily life.
It’s good to find your edges, because it helps you understand yourself as a person. Those boundaries help guide you through relationships by allowing you to understand the type of people you are compatible with. They help you to get to know yourself deeply on all levels.
We were all raised a certain way. Some of us were groomed by our parents since day one to live a certain life. And while they may have had our best interests at heart, it usually falls more in line of what they want. Growing up, I saw a lot of my friends endure emotional turmoil, because their parents wanted them to be something other than what they wanted. And although in the end at least of my friends was able to pursue a career she wanted despite her parents wishes, it was brutal, bloody battle getting there.
I am all for being close as a family, but even families have to have boundaries. People need to be able to live their own lives.
You don’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel to find your edge. It can be as simple as asking yourself what you want your life to be like.
And if you’re unsure, that’s okay. Why? It gives you a blank slate to work with. See new places. Meet new people. Take different classes and workshops. Try a different job. Nerves aren’t always a bad thing. Yes, they can manifest into uncomfortable symptoms such as shortness of breath or diarrhea, but that usually means we’re on the verge of discovering a new edge. Instead of giving into feeling nervousness, think of it as excitement. So much excitement for a new discovery of your life that it is difficult to contain.
My good friend, Natasha, is about to start the MFA program for memoir writing at Hunter college. Naturally, she’s feeling a bit nervous. Going to school in the city, working while earning a degree, having your writing (which is a good chunk of your life story) critiqued by published authors, is all very intimidating. In her latest post on her blog Tenement Thoughts and City Dreams, Natasha writes “I’m beginning. Again. Picking shards of failure up. Moving. Breathing deeply, expelling resistance within myself.”
I love the ending of that line: “…expelling resistance within myself.” It is a beautiful example of what I was attempting to explain. Everyone gets nervous. Everyone feels afraid and anxious. We cannot push ourselves for something we are definitely not ready for. We will only harm ourselves if we do. But there are times we do have to push ourselves in order to move forward on to something better. Natasha sums it up beautifully by saying “I am my own cause. I am my own reason to be better. I’m disturbing the solitude of my own universe. ‘Do I dare?’ Yes.”
Why take that scary first step towards something new, something different? Why disturb the comfort of the little world you have known for so long? Because you are your own reason. Your life is your’s. No one can live it for you. And if you’re in a not-so-great situation, guess what: only you can make it better. Somehow. Some way.
Cinderella had a fairy godmother.
You do not.
No one does.
If your lip is quivering and your eyes are watering, you’ll get over it. Trust me. You will survive those three lines of reality. Like I said before about turning nervousness into excitement, take the water in your eyes and that pouty lip and do the same thing with that.
You are responsible for your life and the choices you make. You can have a very good support system, but don’t use those people as crutches. It can be very easy to become comfortable and complacent. Easier than you realize. Be on the lookout for that. Don’t let someone make you think you need them, because chances are they need you in order for them to be happy. And that’s unhealthy.
So, go out there. Find your edges and who you are. Learn your boundaries. Learn when to push yourself and when you should allow yourself to rest and learn a little more.
It just takes self-awareness and real honesty with yourself.
*And while you’re at it check out Natasha’s blog and see what makes her MFA worthy. You won’t regret it.*