Born from a Chinese background, I grew up in an atmosphere that placed great importance on high achievement and success. It was common to hear parents compare their children from school grades to the occupation of their potential daughter-in-law or son-in-law. Reputation and pride was everything, and it would only be natural that I became competitive in all aspects of my life.
However it was inevitable that I fell into depression as the level of stress increased. In addition to the struggle of meeting the expectations of others, it was near impossible to meet my personal expectations, as I had become my own worst critic. Nothing I did was enough because I had somehow convinced myself that it was my responsibility to carry the burden from everyone, that it was my duty to please everyone, and that I could not let anyone down. I had managed to become a prisoner of my own fears.
As the years passed, I became a successful project manager who was so focused and driven on reaching goals and then planning the next. There was no room for breathing because the clock was ticking and I had a checklist of tasks to complete. The project was my life, and the end goal was to achieve social perfection. But it never occurred to me I was not actually winning at all, for I had lost sight of the bigger picture and I had forgotten to enjoy the beauty of life, the sweet and simple things.
It was only until 2014 that I decided to try a yoga class and it turned out to be the miracle I never knew I needed. This particular yoga studio ran a yearly program that encouraged participants to attend a minimum of five yoga classes per week for forty days. As part of this program, workshops were held to explore themes such as embodiment or dream writing. Although sceptical at first, I participated with an open mind and it was through this program that I started recognising how wrong my priorities were. That although life may have appeared perfect on the outside, it was far from it on the inside and I knew this was definitely not the way to live the only life I had.
Fast forward two years, my life is now marked by the connection of my mind, body, and spirit. I have learnt how to let go of expectations, how to love myself, and I have found the courage to stay true to my heart. Admittedly, at first I could not help but feel selfish for making decisions that served no one but myself. It took a conscious effort to remind myself that life begins with me, and ends with me. With the pressure of societal norms, it was so easy to lose my own identity and become someone else’s however it was through yoga that I ventured on a journey of self-discovery. Not only did I find myself, I became who I was meant to be.
Although self-acceptance was a difficult thing to achieve, it was also the only thing that set me free. And instead of floating through a life I had created, I now live my life with great intention and it is the most liberating feeling one can experience.
"You do not need permission to live life on your own terms, but if you were waiting, here it is: I give you permission. I give you permission to take the chance, to quit the job, to love the person, to leave the person, to write the book, to wear the dress, to try again, to say it first, to love your body, to close the door, to post the picture, to read instead of clean, to sleep instead of read, to let go, to put yourself first.
I give you permission to be happy" - Kristin Lohr