A few weeks ago, I wrote that I had just started to learn how to do yoga.
There I was, starting something new, getting all excited, and telling the whole world about it. Then, just as quickly, I stopped what I had just proclaimed to be my next new thing.
Though yoga had strengthened my meditation practice and my spiritual connection, the pain in my neck, knees, and right foot had become unbearable. I couldn’t help but feel that I had failed.
I felt like a loser. I was afraid to admit to myself and the world that I’ve stopped yoga. My ego was telling me that to do so would mean admitting defeat. Yet, my true self wanted to be honest and explain why I had decided to stop my Yogic path.
I am someone who keeps trying new things. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they do not. I am also human and one who errs regularly. And after much reflection, I got to the crux of my mental conflict—the lesson I needed to learn.
It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay when things don’t work out.
We live in an age where the “American Dream” mentality pushes us to succeed at all costs. We have all grown up on a diet of winning, pushing harder, and not accepting when we fail. This mentality comes at a price. We are anxious and full of expectation. We are constantly under pressure to achieve, win, and become successful.
The worst part is that success is often not defined by our own reasoning, but instead according to the definition of success that we are given by our upbringing, society, and the media.
Social media bombards us daily with “perfection.” We only see six-packed bodies, shining red Ferraris, villas overlooking oceans and other faraway destinations with seven-star hotels. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley spends millions in research and biotechnology developments to make us “perfect” and nearly immortal—to help us live longer with less pain.
This idea of perfection is a myth, and the simple truth is that we are meant to be whole and not perfect. This includes experiencing both the joy of our successes and the pain of our failures. And the only way we learn and grow is through that polar combination.
Buddha’s first noble truth states unequivocally that life contains inevitable, unavoidable suffering. It’s okay to have flaws and go through pain. It is only when we accept this truth about us that our suffering can become more bearable.
In Abrahamic religions, God commands mankind not to eat the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden. Nevertheless, Adam and Eve went on to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Mankind is exiled. Thus we became human with an imperfect nature.
Life is imperfect. When we fail and suffer, it only means it’s human to feel so. We shouldn’t get embarrassed or feel humiliated. We need to accept that we are flawed. As such, we lower our expectations and recognise that we all make mistakes.
Life becomes easier. We become more content with life. Rather than flip when the train is late, we accept that sometimes trains will be delayed. When our colleagues mess up, we understand instead of criticizing them.
Why is it that when we meet someone new, we are always trying to impress through our status, power, and flawlessness when what gains us friendships, breaks boundaries, and wins us enduring loyalty and safety is when we reveal our vulnerability?
No one wants to hear exclusively how great our lives are. Instead, connection is made when there is an acknowledgement of pain. When we share something we are ashamed of, feel regret about, or fear, our bonds strengthen.
Vulnerability is not a weakness. Rather, it is a path to opening our hearts. When we start to trust our hearts, all fears dissipate, and we start accepting that we are imperfect beings living in a not-so-perfect world. It is the only way to live a full, courageous, and authentic life. And isn’t that what being human is all about?
To live with our hearts open, carrying our wounds and scars with us, is very scary. But the alternative is much more terrifying.
Yes, I have stopped my yoga practice only a month after starting. Perhaps I gave up too quickly, or maybe I wasn’t ready yet as I’m enjoying other activities like Pilates, running, and strength training. Or maybe I just rode the bandwagon of yoga’s popularity.
Why I stopped is not as crucial as admitting that I stopped and that it was okay to do so.