Saturday, February 20, 2016

On popularity and vulnerability, as a yogini in 2016...Virgo Full Moon reflection

I've noticed over the last few weeks that many of my peers and friends have been wanting to discuss social media, branding, marketing themselves...the do's and don'ts of it all. For me, this brings up the themes of vulnerability and popularity. This discussion seems to come around every few months, actually. It must be a very relevant theme for those of us that are yoga teachers or artists or writers (freelancer-independent contractors--insert your field here). In this time we are living in with social media, and with so many people out there who have marketing prowess for prolific content, it can be so challenging to strike the right balance of what's true (authenticity) to what will get people to see your truth (marketing). There ARE many who have been able to do both in lovely ways, but typically there tends to be much more image projecting in order to share valuable words. Meaning, it takes an image for the majority of people to read the words. I've been doing my own silent research in this area...and have found that yes, it's true that more people will "like" my posts if there's an image of a smiling me in a nice posture, or of my cute toddler in a close up. This can break my confidence at times and make me want to quit it all, but then I realize those images and things uplift people to see in these strange times...and it's not always a bad thing that those images get more attention. This doesn't mean I've been sharing more or less of those things, necessarily. I'm trying to share what's current, in real time, in my life, and sometimes that resonates to people while other times not. However, I realize that perhaps I could have better strategy and post more images that people want to see. Or not. Oy. Who's noticing? What we feel about it comes purely from within and the pressures and ego we put on ourselves to aim for what we think is success. Maybe I have people gently nudge me to do more with my image and brand, but it's me who has to be at ease with it all in the end. 

You see, I believe in every bit of what Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame have uncovered. And in learning more about it over the last 4-5 years…plus studying with my teacher, Elena Brower, it’s been part of my mission as an individual and as a yoga teacher to stay honest, and to stay in my vulnerability. This is so very hard in our culture at times, but it’s completely shaped my life in a new way. I think (well, I've had some nice feedback) it’s been helping others when I share in this way…though I’m certainly not “popular" in doing so. 
I truly believe that once the majority of humans can learn to embrace vulnerability as a strength and necessity towards more love, then the Earth will finally start healing again. For me, the way there is through getting connected and in rhythm with the natural cycles (both external and internal). But if you “follow” me, you know that and I’ll leave it at that. 

You see I’ve never been “popular." Nope. Not in my school years and not now. I’ve always been somewhere in between. Able to stride the lines of friendships with the introverts AND the extroverts…because hey, I’m actually a little of both. Which has its own awkward qualities and has always had me just “weird” enough to our society’s standards that I never quite make the “hip” list. 
A couple of years after I began teaching yoga in Boston, I started desiring to be a more popular teacher because I thought that was what success looked like. We are projected that idea so much. It seemed like everyone else was doing it and that was how I’d achieve x, y, z to be able to host retreats and do the things I craved. Plus, the popularity and increase in this field of yoga has brought about that want and need in all yoga teachers to stay consistent on social media, with websites, photoshoots, cool gigs, and so on…in order to get students, jobs, etc. 
But, the more I evolved to my truth, I saw students come and go. Some wanted to keep me in a pretty little box and others stuck with me. And I realized this was going to be the path and always has been. Basically I’m not the type to agree to teach a certain way in order to get bodies in a room…but that’s a whole other (though related) topic for another time.
You see, I could go ahead and only ever post perfect professional photos to social media. Ones that stuck to yoga and showcased my practice. Or maybe if I stuck to just motherhood and yoga. Or just women’s yoga. Or just my moon insights. Maybe that focused and neatly artistic presentation would get me to 1,000 followers, finally. Maybe I’d sell out my retreats faster or get more people interested in these ideas that I’m passionate about. I see that that is how to do it. I know there are tactics and tools I could be using to achieve this and be in the popular crowd. Or what if I simply taught more classes a week, or got myself into some more well-known studios. What if I had only signed up for B-school with Marie Forleo (or insert any other popular self-help/business school for the spiritual folks). Or if only I got myself in Mantra magazine…then I’d be worthy of more “followers.” This is not just what I’m writing about here, but what I’ve heard and seen around me, and continue to hear and see. There is SO much judgement, opinions, and ideas of what success looks like that we all swim against a current of shame on the daily. I’ve noticed this conflict among my friends and peers, and at times within myself, too. This idea all around us that we for one reason or another are not worthy to be hip, popular, well-liked, followed, respected, trusted in...
It's the ebbs and flows of our time and so we have to stay vulnerable and take breaks when we need to, or share about it all when we need to, in order to manage the feels and allow ourselves the chance to get back up and share again. 

**Vulnerability alert! I just shared again how I sometimes feel unworthy. Let the strange judgements and feelings surrounding this post commence!** 

With it all, as I set out to finally create a real website (one that someone other than my non-techie-self builds), in addition to creating a book, I see the need for a logo and a sort of “brand.” Yet I want to do it in my way. I don’t care to spread it all over the world, but I do hope to share my passions to a deeper tribe when the timing is right. And I know SO many wonderful people who I do "follow" and who offer such tools that could help me expand or market myself better...but what if I don't really want to at this time? What if I'm (trying to be) okay with who I am and what I'm sharing in the moment? Perfectly imperfect musings on the perfectly imperfect life of mine. I don’t want to stress over my image! I simply don’t. At least not right now and that’s okay! I don’t want to portray something that I’m not. I believe that the right people will find me as needed, and me to them. That my path will keep going whether I’m widely known in my city, or elsewhere, or not. Not playing small or big. Not playing at all. I’m much more interested in posting images (a mix of professional and amateur), words, and thoughts that are a part of my life in the every day, because my life is my yoga practice and my yoga practice is my life. It’s all one collaboration that influences the other and how I teach. There is no separation. This for sure leads to people unfollowing me. I’m certain of it. The non-yogis don’t want to see all the yoga stuff, and the yogis want to see more. Maybe posts about motherhood or self-inquiry, or questioning different themes (such as this post) turn people off. Well, it also turns people on. There is absolutely no major method to how I present myself out there…meaning how I market myself. I’m just ME. Not sure if this smart or not, but it’s what always feels right. I’ve “rebelled” over the years and never set myself up with a Jenn Falk Yoga Facebook page or separate IG account. For me it’s a combo of simply not wanting to spend extra time managing various accounts (if you have young kids or another job in addition to teaching yoga, you understand), coupled with this fact that all facets of my life is my practice. 
The various accounts and pages on social media, the strategy, the scheduling it in, the detailed marketing...this works for so many of you. And thank you for your work and your inspirations! I do follow you, too. And I enjoy your success! This is why our world is beautiful because we are all different. The question and the issue arises when we start stacking ourselves up against everyone else to measure our success, instead of asking ourselves what it is we really want from the sharing, the posting, the images. Do we want to be published in an online forum? Do we want someone to comment that they feel the same and that resonance allows us to release our own shame? Do we simply want to get our stuff out to get it out and then keep moving forward, no baggage? It's so valuable to learn from our motives and how we can grow into ourselves with ease. 

What I’m sharing here is to shine a light for those of you out there who resonate with this strange balancing act and the inner struggles over the years to conform, or to not do what every one else is doing. Maybe you’re somewhere in between, which is how I think I am. 
So, I share this to say that your ability to rise strong, to achieve your dreams, to honor who you are…may come at a slower pace. It may not look like everyone else’s. You don’t have to share only the most gorgeous, artsy photos or the most perfect yoga shots. If that’s not YOU, then stop stressing about it and share your heart! If you want. If it IS you and your aim is for recognition and perhaps, fame, and you want to take the time to curate how you present yourself, then do it! If you want. Neither is better than the other and both are worthy! 
Mostly, keep aiming to recognize the power in each of us! To own our shame, our imperfections…because we all deal with it, and see if that not only empowers yourself but your peers. We ARE all in this together even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Love on up and through and out of what you share to bring necessary change and energy to the world through your own small, medium, or large circles! 
And if you notice the fluctuations of "followers"…breathe in some loving kindness and know that at least you’re being you. 

AND, I didn't even read this before writing my own post...but check out the marvelous Chani Nicholas' full moon post for more beautiful insight into the balance of being yourself. 

"We can know that even in the most intense struggles to become ourselves and to find our way, we are still, and will always be, a perfect fit for our own lives. "

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#beyou #stayweird #socialintroverts #sensitiveandstrong #fullmoonenergy #vulnerability #courage #findingyourownbalance