Once upon a time, a client refused to work with me after learning I was a yoga teacher (among many other things).
Yoga teacher is one of many (many!) identities that I wear, and this particular rejection was surprisingly painful. Perhaps, because the rejection itself was surprising.
Like that one time after a yoga class, when a student came up to me and said: “Well, you are a yoga teacher, so you are clearly very spiritual!”. I found myself both taken aback, and a little jealous of his certainty, his resolution that X must always lead to Y. I am not this certain of anything.
I’ve had clients who did not want to work with me because I was too young, did not have children, was not married (at the time), was an immigrant (yes, really), was too muscular, not muscular enough, too extreme (whatever that meant), too thin, not thin enough… You get the picture.
All of the above, I could at least explain in my head.
The yoga teacher thing came out of nowhere. And I didn’t know what it meant when someone “didn’t want to work with a yoga teacher”. Truth be told, I don’t think that client knew what she meant either.
Yet, that scenario reminded me how quickly we can reduce others to one thing. How quickly we can be reduced to one thing.
You are X, someone says. No, I don’t like you.
And just like that, you are reduced to one characteristic. You are just X, and nothing else.
A yoga teacher.
A health coach.
Just that one thing.
You feel so helpless. Because you have fought so hard to not just be that one thing. To be many things, to “contain multitudes”. To be sophisticated and complex, damn it. Multi-fucking-faceted.
Now, the fear creeps in.
Oh my god, what if they are right, and I am just that one thing? What if all of this has been in vain? All of it. Surely, this life is not worth living.
It’s like that t-shirt slogan – “This is not the life I ordered”.
Sir… May I have another?
All of that goes through your head in few seconds.
Then you reign the wild horse in and smile.
Someone doesn’t want to work with you because you are a yoga teacher? Or fat? Or Christian? Or a fat Christian yoga teacher?