This story of quitting goes way back before I started teaching yoga. And starts to tell of how I got to this point. When I sat down to write about my latest experience in quitting I ended up working back to one of my earliest memories of “quitting while professional”. It was my second summer internship in 2004. I was studying Finance and Math at Michigan State University. Go figure, right? Indian people generally go down the business, law, or medical lanes at school and I wasn’t very different. I first majored in engineering, because that was my dad’s profession then switched to computer science before landing on Math and adding Finance. I tutored calculus and business finance, studied abroad twice, visited six countries, and held a couple internships where I lived out of state.
That last internship was awesome, not the work, but the interns! It was a diverse group, of different ethnicities, and we all lived in close quarters in the same apartment complex. Group dinners, evening hangouts, presentation prep, all that was so fun! I asked to go in blind for a roommate and was paired with another person Gujarati person (Gujurat is a state in India)! We had that in common but we were also very different, growing up in different regions - Virginia / Michigan, different religions - Zohrastrian / Hindu, and a lot of other lifestyle differences. There were many hilarious memories from that summer, a few being our awkward beauty salon trips, road trips to NYC and DC, and our apt being Gathering Central. We learned so much from one another and are still in touch today 14 years later. It was an excellent summer in huge contrast to the internship the summer before where I lived alone and was completed isolated during my internship. Anywho, neither me nor my roommate work in the same fields anymore by the way.
The HR recruiters at the now dissolved Genworth Financial really set us up for a fantastic summer. At the end of the 10 weeks, I made a final presentation and moved back to campus for my last epic year at MSU. When I received a full time offer to start working at Genworth the following year, I was honored. The timeline to accept the job was short, only a few weeks into the school year, so Iaccepted even though I was not 100% excited. I just knew that nailing down a job before even finishing my first semester was a relief and I felt good about it. But something was nagging at me about moving out to Richmond, VA to start my professional life.
I’m not sure how far into the school year I got when I quit the job, before it even began. Taking my time to think through the pros and cons, I found that even though the pros list was longer because who doesn’t want a confirmed job after graduation (regardless of your last semester grades!!), guaranteed income, and a high probability of success, I didn’t really want that job. The recruiter was completely baffled. He knew me from the summer before and thought I was a great fit. So he asked, do you have another offer? No, I replied. Well, is there something wrong with this job offer? Not really, I replied. Eventually he stopped trying to work it out. I told him, it’s a feeing I have. It’s hard to describe but my intuition says I won’t truly be happy in that role. By the end of the conversation, the recruiter was a bit huffy which I can understand. Here’s a young twenty something with enough privilege in her life and faith in herself to be able to turn down a really good job by all accounts, one that is already accepted, and not for any quantifiable reason.
I know it wasn’t the greatest thing to do, backtrack on my offer. I also knew a decision this big would set me up to find happiness after the transition of leaving my amazing college support bubble.
I think it was one of the first adult times I put myself first. Oddly, being a math and finance person, my decision wasn’t quantitative. On paper, the pros outweighed the cons. My decision was intuitive and emotional and I believed in my decision so much I didn’t second guess it once I made the call. That’s how Iknew I made the right call. I still did start a career in finance that eventually led me to NYC but not before another story that involves me moving to Alaska, working and quitting again. Another story, maybe next time?!
I’m telling you this story because I’ve been thinking about quitting, failing, and succeeding. Mostly, quitting is seen as falling backwards or giving up. A quick google on “quitting quotes” will tell you that. But in my case, quitting is about listening. Truly listening to my intuition and not using logic to justify what makes sense over what feels right in my bones. I think I’m lucky to have had the confidence early on that “things will work out” and I’ve grown enough to have the awareness that any delay in acting on my intuition can adversely affect others. If the body responds to decisions made using only one part of our intelligence, the reasoning part (More on that here) there are usually signs, physical or other. In my case, I would have constantly second guessed myself had I kept the job offer valid for any longer than I did. And I probably would have felt guilty, confused, and increasingly nervous as time passed. I could have driven myself sick!
I’m sharing this to offer you different aspects of yoga. The physical movement practice, often on the mat, is called asana and is one of the eight limbs of a certain type of yoga - raja yoga. The other limbs outline other aspects of yoga. Even if you don’t practice physical yoga moves daily, you can still practice your yoga! Listening to yourself closely / following your intuition for a better life is also part of yoga. You can call it honing your senses, studying your self, you can even call it a practice of Truthfulness or Contentment. Just know it’s a practice. And the more you listen the better you’ll get. Sometimes practicing on the mat can start up or strengthen the process of listening to your self, your body and your mind’s signals to continue or stop. Sometimes it’s in the subtle movements of the mind, the constant decision making, that you can practice deep listening. Whichever scenario, I encourage you to start and then maybe you'll have a quitting story too.