Over the past weekend, I not only taught two community classes, but I worked quite a bit at my day job. (Well, “day” job–the truth is, since I work for myself, I generally set my own hours and it’s not always during the day, depending on how distracted I’ve been.) My alter ego is an attorney. I’ve been practicing for nearly seven years. Currently, I’m in solo practice, handling appeals.
Since completing teacher training, I’ve been asked by a few people whether I’m going to quit being an attorney and teach full-time. My answer has been an unequivocal “no.”
Let me explain.
There are a couple of reasons for my answer. First is the simple fact that I went massively into debt to get my law degree and pass the bar, so I might as well do something with it, right? I figure I should at least practice for a little bit, just so I can say I’m a lawyer and I didn’t take out all those student loans for nothing.
Second, I actually like what I do, for the most part. I like the legal research and writing. I like coming up with persuasive arguments. And I like to feel like I’m doing my part to help in our screwed-up system. Bonus: being on the appellate side of things gives me a lot of flexibility with hours and location–really, I just need my computer and a reliable Internet connection to do my work. And usually–unless I have a deadline or something–I can do it at any time of the day, which is really great.
But right now, for me, the biggest reason I’m not planning to quit being an attorney and teach full-time is because I don’t want to burn out on it. I love yoga. I love my practice. I love teaching it. But I remember what I went through went I first became an attorney and didn’t have a full-time job somewhere. I raced around, covering court appearances for other attorneys all over San Diego (and sometimes outside San Diego). I wasn’t really practicing law in the way I wanted to–I was just trying to make money. It was stressful and not in the least bit enjoyable. It wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I fear the same thing if I were to teach yoga full-time. I’m not under any illusions about what that would be like. I have friends who teach yoga full-time. I’ve seen what some of them have gone through, even the ones who would be considered generally successful. I know the work and effort they’ve put into it and continue to put into it. I’ve also had at least one friend burn out. I’ve heard of some of the sacrifices they’ve made and the truth is, I’m not ready for that. I’ve already been through it, in a sense, when I started my own law practice. I’m not prepared to embark upon another career with that much uncertainty. I don’t want yoga to be a source of stress in my life. Yoga is what keeps me sane and I’d like to keep it that way.
In thinking about this question, as well as other events in my life, I realized something: my career is not my passion and I’m okay with that. For years, I thought I wanted/needed to be passionate about my career. After all, we see things like this all the time, don’t we?
I used to think that was the goal. I used to think I needed that. Now, my perspective is a little different.
For me, my passion and my career, my life and my livelihood–they’re separate. And knowing myself like I do now, that’s how it should be. Growing up, I had a tendency to go all in on things and burn out. That’s what happened to me when I thought I needed to be crazy passionate about my job. Don’t get me wrong–I’m passionate about the cause I serve in the work I do. If you know me, you know that. But it doesn’t consume me the way I previously thought I needed it to. It’s not my only passion. It’s not my life.
So when I say I don’t want to teach yoga full-time, it’s not because I don’t love it. It’s because I don’t want to lose my passion for yoga. It’s because I still want to love it in the years to come. I’m accepting who I am, even if it’s not who I thought I would be, and loving her all the same. (Hashtag svādhyāya.)
Maybe things will change. Maybe they won’t. Regardless, right now, I am both an attorney and a yoga teacher and that will continue for the foreseeable future. Both experiences shape my perspectives and shape my life and I’m not willing to give that up just yet.