Better one's own duty, though destitute of merit, than the duty of another well discharged.
- Bhagavad Gita
Yesterday I attended a gathering where I didn’t know most of the people. While I was eager to meet them and build more community in my new city, I was dreading the infamous question- “What do you do?”.
After graduating University, I wanted to crawl into a hole every time someone asked me that. It felt like overnight I went from talking about what my aspirations were to feeling defeated about not having a job in my field. Truthfully, I was still figuring out what I wanted to do but my safety blanket of being in school was gone. I was certain I did not want to be a lawyer way before I ever admitted it out loud, but I used it as another safety blanket. I had to let go of my latest warm and fuzzy blanket because I’ve slowly gained insight into why I continued with these patterns. I know this change is good and healthy for me but it’s not fun being out in the cold…again.
My struggle in the simplest sense was common. Most of us think we need to meet someone’s standards and the people that I cared the most to impress were my family. Classic. But unlike most people my family didn’t support my pursuit of higher education. It actually caused so much of a rift that I moved out, which is a huge deal in my culture. This distance continues today and it is way harder on me then I ever care to let on. I used to believe that I could find a career that would make my education worth it to them. Of course, that never happened and I’ve accepted that it never will. They aren’t terrible people with unrealistic standards, we just have different standards of how I should live. And instead of trying to live in a weird compromise between what I think they might respect and what I actually want, I’m just going to start listening to my dharma more.
I believe that my dharma is helping people who are doing good work. I actually said this out loud once 5 years ago to my badass friend Sarah when she was filling me in on a workshop on Purpose that I missed that week. As I was saying it my ego flared up and I thought what kind of lame purpose is that? So I tried to ignore it but it would keep sneaking into my life. When I started Dharma Chasers, I didn’t know what my dharma was even though this is exactly what I’m doing. I think that if my karma was different and I was rich, I could be a philanthropist and maybe satisfy my ego while doing my dharma. But I can’t even pronounce philanthropist and see now that egos aren’t meant to be satisfied.
All of that said, I still struggled with answering what do I do yesterday. Destroying the ego takes longer than 5 years. I think I’m doing a bit better because now at least I can take praise without wanting to vomit because I feel like a crook. And I no longer try to do everything to overcompensate my work life. I’ve started to be vocal about what I’m happy with or what I’m grateful for and that’s helped a lot. So, my name is Aisha. In this life I’m a yoga teacher, work at a restaurant, and I am trying to start a community called Dharma Chasers. I love that I can have long midweek coffee dates with friends during the day, my own daily yoga practice, and drink wine while I write. And I am grateful that my partner then edits my writing.