When I was little, as you may have heard me post about on Instagram, I was shy - painfully shy. I was the youngest of 3 girls, and we all had huge age gaps in our ages. My oldest sister and I are 15 years apart. My middle sister and I have 6 years between us. These large gaps meant that a lot of my growing up, I did alone when my sisters had moved out of the house. I often felt like I didn't relate well to other children or child-like things. I didn't watch cartoons or "play" with kid things. I liked to watch shows with my parents, and hang out and just listen to them when they had friends over. Making friends in school was a challenge and didn't really find my "group" of friends until my second year in high school. I spent a lot of time listening to music in my room, writing in endless journals, and imagining what life would be like when I grew up.
Coming from this very shy, introverted lifestyle, I didn't like any attention. I did my best not to stand out in the crowd and just blend in. I didn't like bright colors as they were something that made people say "Oh, I like your outfit" or "Wow, that color makes your eyes pop!" This to me was the worst. I didn't want anyone commenting on my choice of clothing or how my eyes looked. Any attention, even positive, just fed my insecurity. So, I learned how to just blend in. Being in the background was what I did best.
I became an excellent listener and observer. I learned to study people and their behaviors. What to say and what not to say to make people happy was what I focused on. If you are agreeable I discovered, you can avoid most conflict. This was my strategy for a lot of my early adult like - avoid conflict. Although listening and observing is a good quality, avoiding conflict is not. I thought that peace was found if you just don't get involved, but that isn't the truth. There is a difference between being a peacemaker and peacekeeper. Peacemakers will address conflict so it can be examined and healed. Peacekeepers don't ever want to talk about anything that would cause conflict for this would disrupt the peace. They tend to shove it all under the rug. This was me until I learned that peacemaking is the path to healing and ultimately living a life of peace.
Instagram fame (if that is even a thing) happened to be about 6 years ago. I didn't try for it and I didn't expect it. When I hit 1 Million followers, I was blown away because I wasn't sure why or what to do with it. I struggled (and sometimes still struggle) with having to accept that I can't make everyone happy. I made so many mistakes early on wanting to please people who ultimately just wanted to use me or didn't care about me. I tried for a long time to stay as neutral, you know, hiding my real feelings under that rug. I avoided sharing on topics that caused conflict, but in doing so I created an audience that didn't really know who I was or where I stood on issues. If I happened to voice my feelings about something in the news, I'd have people sending me hate mail and telling me they were outraged by my comments. This caused me to shrink back even more because I didn't need anymore conflict in my life. I figured I wasn't hurting anyone if I just stayed neutral and didn't ruffle anyone's feathers. I felt I was on Instagram to share about yoga and yoga doesn't take sides on what you should believe or not believe. But, I am not only a yoga teacher. I'm also a wife and mother. I am a citizen of the United States and more importantly, I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is my Guru and my greatest teacher. He had opinions, and he voiced them. He also knew when it wasn't appropriate or helpful to speak out. He loved all people, even the people that didn't agree with him and were going to kill him. Jesus was someone who had a mission to complete and didn't stop to ask anyone if it was okay with them. He wasn't worried if feathers would be ruffled. In fact, many times he warned his disciples that people "would be offended." Jesus is the most influential person that has ever walked this earth. Regardless if you follow his teachings or you just know who he is, you can't deny the impact that his presence has made on this earth.
Impact. That is what influence is all about. It isn't about convincing people to join you or to believe what you believe. It is about leaving a lasting impression that no one will forget. Impact not influence. Jesus lived a life of impact. He impacted people wherever he went and even to this day, when his name is mentioned, the impact of who you believe he is, is still felt.
At 44 years old, I've realized that I have a mission, and I want to make an impact. I don't want to be an influencer. I want to help as many people as I can who want and need help. My past struggles aren't to be shoved under that rug to be forgotten about. The trails I've gone through aren't just for me to have overcome and then to be hidden away. They are for me to help others who are struggling now. I believe this with all my heart.
I am here to be of service. I don't know exactly how, or what that will develop into, but I'm no longer afraid to share all of me. I teach Yoga and fitness classes as a job, and yes, those are all part of my journey to wellness, but its not all of me.
I'm here to make an impact.