Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yoga is Stressing Me Out

Today a good friend convinced me to go to a yoga class. I have heard the benefits and read the testimonials, and heck I am practically an expert after taking a semester of it at Baylor – or excuse me, taking a semester of rest and relaxation at Baylor.

I was pretty confident going into today’s class. I would consider myself more flexible than most people my age and ready to show off. My ego was quickly burst when I showed up and realized I was the only one not properly outfitted in spandex and lycra. There was so much spandex in that room it would make a volleyball team jealous. My Nike shorts and lime green shirt stood out, and apparently tennis shoes were frowned upon as well.

I knew I was going to regret doing this when the teacher who had about .4% body fat, wildly black hair, and such a strong Russian accent, which could put Putin to shame, waltzed into the room.

She started out by leading us in breathing exercise. I pride myself in being a very efficient breather, but her KGB-esque commands made me doubt my skills. The calm breathing was stressing me out. I found myself holding my breath just so I didn’t breathe out of rhythm with rest of the breathing experts.

Next, we went on to poses. I am sorry, but congratulating me for standing on one leg is a bit unnecessary. I used to get a high by standing on one leg, on a 4 inch wide beam, 5 ft in the air while throwing myself backwards – her words of affirmation were a tad insulting. While twisting and contorting myself I also realized I am way too competitive for yoga. Supposedly, you are supposed to look inward, center your chi and relax. I, on the other had, enjoyed secretly competing with the other people around me. I made sure to notice if my leg was straighter than the others or I was able to raise myself off the ground higher than everyone else. I only wish yoga had some sort of scoring system so I could be certain I dominated everyone in the downward dog or inverted triangle.

Finally, we did some “cool down” (why, I don’t know since its not like we ever broke a sweat) poses while lying down. This presented a problem since I could no longer see her and follow along Simon-says style mimicking her movements. At this point, I was relatively certain she was actually speaking Russian. It was a disaster.

The class concluded with the infamous “conscientious relaxation.” This makes me very uncomfortable because no one has explicitly said what to do. Do you lay with your eyes open or closed? Where do your hands go? Do you have to lay on your back? Instead of relaxing in the last 5 minutes I end up worrying about if I am lying correctly. Then I turn into an ADD child. I notice the red blinking light on the ceiling. Why is it blinking? What if there is an emergency? We are two stories underground, do the sirens work down here? I wonder what the people in the rest of the gym are doing. Why is the teacher walking over in my direction? What is she doing pushing people’s shoulders down? Ahh, here she comes to me. Eyes open or closed? Have I plucked my eyebrows? Do I hold my breath? Phew, she is gone.

I feel like I have been violated by an 85-pound Russian, and now I more stressed than when I arrived. I quickly slink out of the dance room, and try to dodge the conversation of all the other participants on how refreshed they feel. At this point I am not even sure we were in the same class. Wearily I trudge out the door, back to ground level and into a world where you can breathe at your own speed and not be chastised.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

We are Millennials

Hello, my name is Rebekah, and I am a millennial. We are a unique generation. We were pushed, encouraged, and coddled. We were told not to just join clubs, teams and organizations, but to run them, lead them, and change them. We grew to expect A’s on assignments, trophies for participation, and pats on the back for a good job – we love gratification. We were told we could be whatever we wanted to be when we grew up.

Now that I am grown up, I feel gypped.

All the parenting 101 books that lectured parents to bring their children up in this manner should be burned. This mantra did not stimulate us - it stifled us. To be whatever we wanted subliminally meant to also be better, smarter and more successful than others in our class. Instead of broadening our horizons it shrunk them, made us afraid of failure and encouraged us to choose professions that were not too difficult or had a small chance of flat out disaster.

In first grade our class was given a huge piece of butcher paper and told to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote I wanted to be president. (Side note: I actually wanted to write ballerina, but I couldn’t spell it – fear of failure from an early age- and chose an easier to spell profession.) The words littering the page ranged from astronauts to doctors to professional football players. In first grade we had already drank the ‘be all you can be ‘ kool-aid. We didn’t know as first graders how difficult to achieve and how unlikely are dreams actually were.

So instead of stretching our imaginations we set ourselves up for failure. To overcome that feeling, we pushed ourselves harder or tailored our dreams to make them more achievable. Not to discredit the professions we “downgraded” to, but as we grew older, our dreams shrank. The astronauts became pilots, doctors became nurses and Presidential hopefuls, well, we just realized it was a little beyond reach.

As a person who has just achieved the rank of “grown up” I think we, as a generation, are disoriented. We are still looking for the ‘A’ to prove we are successful, or a ribbon to prove we are number one. The high standards that were set for us now seem unattainable from the bottom. As our dreams shrink so does our future, and that is scary.

We are used to being the best. We are scared of failure. We are uncomfortable. We are lost. We are millennials.