Posted by: kerryalina | 1 April 2012

Challenge Class 41: Fear and Longing

I want to go to Teacher Training.

It’s been in the back of my mind for a few months now; a dream that I tried to ignore because of course it was never going to happen.  Nine weeks in a foreign country and an $11,000 tuition fee – plus flights, plus food and other expenses, plus rent and bills back home… all while not working for over two months?  And then coming home and starting life again as a Bikram teacher in a city saturated with them; taking a substantial pay cut even if I succeed?  There is no way it could ever happen.

Except… maybe it could.  The whispers started when I wistfully looked into the dates for Autumn training this year.  A friend and I have booked a trip in the USA from mid August to 14th September… and training starts in LA on 16th September.  The timing couldn’t be better… so maybe it’s possible after all?  I have some money saved for the trip already – if I scrimp and save and fundraise over the next few months, then I can surely get enough to cover expenses for the duration of training as well.  And a loan could cover the tuition and accommodation fees – a bank would definitely approve it given my current salary, savings and work history.  Repayments on a two year loan would be more than affordable with my current income.

But would they be affordable on a teacher’s salary?  From what I’ve read, full-time beginner teachers earn about $20,000 less than my current wages.  It’s a hefty blow, but one I think I could weather.  I’d save a substantial amount on work lunches and clothes (and, of course, on Bikram classes).  Not enough to make up the difference, of course… but I have no other loans, no credit card debt, no car (even when bought outright, always so costly with insurance, registration, petrol and repairs), no ongoing expenses outside of my rent, groceries and house bills. No children, no live-in family, nobody else my decisions might be affecting if I have to cut everything back to basics.  I tend towards costlier options when I can afford them (in shoes, groceries, furniture, everything), automatically assuming them to be better by virtue of their price… but I can learn to reconsider.  To embrace more modest needs and more considered choices.  To change my mode of living when my salary falls, to mirror how it naturally changed as my pay increased.

Would I be able to find work as a teacher?  Surely I could find a few classes a week – there are a dozen studios scattered around Melbourne and most of them are supportive of new graduates.  If I’m a good teacher, I’ll be offered more classes over time.  I’m currently a PA, so temp or part time admin work could theoretically take up the slack if I’m not making ends meet.  Other Australian cities are crying out for qualified teachers; I could even move interstate for a few months to gain more experience, although Melbourne will always be where my heart is.  And given that I was planning on leaving my job shortly anyway (due to both the appalling office culture and the fact that the company was recently bought out and nobody is quite sure what the outcome will be for employees) the absolute worst case scenario would be that I quit my job, have three months of amazing experiences in America, gain a deeper understanding of this yoga that I love so much… and then come home and pick up where I left off.  Back to the corporate grind, albeit with considerably less money than when I left.

Even if it works, though – if I “make it” as a Bikram teacher… what happens in five years; in ten?  Could I do this for the rest of my life?  Even now I have days when I want nothing more than to flee the hot room and never come back.  So if this doesn’t turn out to be a longterm career, how do I re-enter the mainstream workforce with no recent relevant experience on my resume?  Am I throwing away my future while striving towards a fantasy?  This is one question I don’t have an answer to.  All I know is that I want to try anyway.

But how do I know I could even make it through the teacher training itself?  With my paltry one year of yoga, while others have been practicing for decades.  With my loathing of the classes that are “too hot” and my habit of setting up right next to the door to take advantage of the cooling draught of air that periodically circulates, when the temperature at training soars towards 50 degrees.  With my insomnia, trying to cope with already reduced sleeping hours.  With my introverted nature screaming for seclusion while surrounded with 700 students and living with a roommate for the first time in my life.  With my doubt that I’m just not good enough.  Yet more questions that I just can’t answer.

Ultimately though, I think I could do it.  And really, that’s all anyone has.  That they think they could do it.  Nobody can know.  All you can have is the desire to try and the belief that it could be done… and done by you.  Done by me.

When I thought the dream was impossible, I was quietly miserable but resigned to my fate.  Now that I know it’s within my grasp, I’m terrified.  My friends cry out that I should follow my dreams, that if it’s physically possible then it should be done – but my dreams involve a leap of faith with no safety net.  Following my dreams could very well end up with me losing everything – my home, my job, my hope.  To leave everything I know, put myself into debt for the first time in my life and then come back to pressing bills, no money, no income, no guaranteed job and significantly lowered earning prospects – how could that possibly be the right thing to do?

And yet, it feels so much like the right thing to do.

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Responses

  1. I’m going in the fall come with me?

    • It’s looking like a definite possibility, Courtney! :)

      • That would be awesome!! I got your email. Thank you! It’s been a busy week and although that is one of the most exciting things I have coming up it isn’t urgent yet! I’m waiting til I can sit down and answer your questions with more time!! Thank you :)

    • Oh hey, I replied to your email, but sent it from a different address – let me know if it didn’t make it through xx

  2. Do it! During a yoga class not too long ago, a teacher encouraged us to live for our dreams, and not for our reasons. If this is your dream, go for it! Like Jack Johnson says “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.”

  3. I have a secret fantasy of going to training too. Of course, now that I have a baby I can’t imagine being gone for that long. So it will probably be years from now if it ever happens. From that respect, now sounds like the best time for you.

  4. It’s the best thing I have ever done for myself….life changing and everything is just working out….day by day.

  5. You’re more likely to regret the things you Don’t do than the things you do. Just saying…

    • I dunno… I’m sure I’ll have plenty of regrets if I end up homeless ;)

      I’ve actually been thinking lately about how in the last 50 years, standard/accepted western mentality has gone from “Work hard, stay grounded, take few risks and provide for your family” to “Follow your dreams at any cost!” I wonder how it came about! I’m trying to find and follow a middle ground, but it’s proving difficult :)

  6. I’m also interested in teacher training, and my main/regular teacher is encouraging me to do it. It’s only $2K; they meet on weekends over 8 months; and it’s in my own city. I’m seriously considering it, but I feel like I have to get so many “other” things in order first. I keep thinking I need to lose more weight, get better at the basic poses than I am, be practicing longer than 6 months, etc.

    The next round of classes starts in September, and I keep thinking in the back of my mind how I make it happen this year instead of waiting for next year. I don’t really see myself making a living from teaching yoga, though. I really just want to learn more for myself, but I have found a lot of joy in sharing my own yoga journey with others, so I guess I shouldn’t rule out teaching altogether. As you can see, lots of ifs and dreams. I hope you pursue yours!

    • That sounds awesome! The big scary things for me are the time away from home/work and the expense – yours sounds so much more manageable from that point of view that I’m positively jealous :)

      My two cents with your “other” things:
      * Your weight has absolutely no bearing on your yoga practice (or anything else, for that matter). Yogis come in all shapes and sizes… we’ve all seen the super-toned size 8’s who can’t last a whole class practicing next to size 20’s who absolutely kick ass. I judge my teachers on their knowledge and ability to guide us through our practice, not their pants size!
      * Getting better at basic poses and practicing more than six months – these are both the same thing, I think? The underlying thought is “I’m not good enough yet.” But if you’re anything like me, that underlying thought will ALWAYS be there. As long as you have the correct form, it doesn’t matter how far you can go into the pose. And as long as you have the knowledge to teach your students how to deepen their practice, it doesn’t matter how deep your own is.

  7. It sounds like things are lining up already. Your life will make room either way. Full support here!

  8. You won’t regret it.

  9. I barely didn’t complete my teacher training because we moved away. But, it helped my own practice so much. Plus, it allowed me to occasionally teach and sub. which was a nice break from my government job at the time. Do it while you are energetic and have little in the way of responsibilities. If you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder. However, I hate loans. They are such stress inducers. Is there any way to save before you do this, or use savings?

    It feels like you are morphing into a butterfly…

    • At the moment it’s definitely looking like teacher training just isn’t in the cards for this year… which is a mixed blessing. Obviously it’s disappointing since this is something that I desperately want to do and it’s the perfect time in my life right now… but it also means that I’ll definitely have time to save before doing it in 1-2 years :)


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