I may have been an anthropologist even before I knew what anthropology was (and if you don’t, hold tight). I’ve had a curiosity about the people around me since I was a young girl. I would watch people interact, join in, and constantly ask questions. Why do we do this? What is the difference between A and B? Why do all the things happen? And while not everyone was always receptive to my inquisitiveness, it held fast.
I love people. And that is what anthropology is all about. Humanity. Human culture. What it is that makes us uniquely human. Cultural anthropology offers the unique opportunity to share these stories.
To do this well, the asking questions came to be my number one resource. It also honed my listening skills, to deeply listen, sometimes to read between the lines. To interpret gestures, body language, what people weren’t telling me.
I focused on telling stories through food; something I felt very connected to as a farmer’s daughter. Something that we all biologically must participate in to survive, but something that culturally, has come to mean many things to many different people. More on this another time. The research showed me that we all have stories and these stories connect us in big ways.
Yoga came to me about half way through my undergrad degree. My mother, mothers are always right by the way, told me I needed to do something to lessen my stress. She saw that Albion College had a yoga class and told me to sign up. After much grumbling, I did. For the next eight years I practiced regularly. Until this point in my life, this had been the biggest commitment to anything I had ever undertaken. I thought I would continue in this way until a mentor of mine, thank you forever, Dez, mentioned that I should consider teaching yoga. Teach. Yoga. It had not even occurred to me before then that I might pursue yoga in such a way. And it fits in such a way that I know this is exactly what I am meant to do in this life.
Sometimes I receive quizzical looks when people discover I’m a cultural anthropologist that also teaches yoga. But it led me here. The curiosity, the questions, the search for deeper meaning. . .
*Deep breath* Last week I gave notice at the college for my student services position so I can focus on teaching full time. Yoga and sociology (and anthropology when I get the chance). I hadn’t realized what a heavy weight I had been carrying around all summer while trying to come to some decision about this. The fears that were holding me back. The internal voice telling me all the negative things. But now I finally feel that I can breathe again.
So what finally brought the courage forward? Probably reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. While not a new one of hers, it is one I read a long time ago and more recently have come back to. Brown researches shame, courage, vulnerability, and empathy. And it is these things that made me realize I needed to step out of comfort and into my own courage. It feels fantastic. And I’m still not entirely sure what I am doing, but I know the universe has my back on this one.
Here’s to the unknown. Here’s to embracing the inquisitive in each of us…
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