Bikram yoga is pretty well known for their 30 day challenges (go 30 times in 30 days), but that is simply unreasonable for me to attempt with a job, toddler, husband, unless they offered like 5am classes and that would be ridiculous anyway. But this summer my studio is offering a 30 day summer challenge, from June 21-August 31. I felt that it was going to be a reasonable, but still not cakewalk challenge, and so I happily placed my name on the 30 Day Summer Challenge sticker chart in the lobby, and stepped into my first (challenge) class.
At first nothing felt different, but then June clicked by, and most of July, and I realized that there had been some days that I had mentally prepped to go in advance, but things like being on-call, or doing random training, got in the way. And I saw the people around me with their stickers mounting, and I started to feel defeated. How had I felt so good about going 2-3 times a week before suddenly feel so…inadequate? Mid July came and I only had 9 stickers on my chart, and I felt like giving up. Because hello anxiety and perfectionism and those all-or-nothing-thinking of ‘welp, if I can’t do it perfectly, I might just not do it at all! And while I’m at it, lemme just gain 50lbs and eat chocolate on the couch!’ Doesn’t help that there’s this super
annoying extroverted girl wrote “wins!” on the chart because she finished the 30 days already. And she brags about how she’s really doing a 60 day challenge, on the back of a 30 day challenge she just completed, and that up next she’s doing a 90 day challenge, and that she has endometriosis and is married to an ex professional athlete. Seriously, that chick drops some really personal stuff all in one braggy breath.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle, but it feels weird to admit, that as an adult, I am struggling with a damn sticker chart. I am having flashbacks to childhood when I wanted to zoom through sticker charts as fast as I could, which I look back on I can’t help but wonder if it was more for the reprieve in between the sticker charts than the actual completion of the case in general. I want to kick the whole thing to the curb, and yet the Italian dinner I’ve promised myself at the end of it is still luring me. Leaving a chart half finished is so not my style, anyway, though I might be causing myself undue stress in the meantime.
But the lovely side effect of this whole sticker chart debacle, is this immense compassion I am having toward children. As a summertime crisis counselor I meet with a lot of families, and one of the things I find rolling off my tongue with children is behavior modification and sticker charts as a way to motivate kids. And I know it works for some, but I wonder if, for others, it causes undue stress on poor little undeveloped brains. Like I must be good in order to be loved, in order to earn a sticker.
Boof doesn’t understand. He says, “just stop if it’s stressing you out,” but keeping on is the less stressful option than failing at this challenge. And my brain would just keep tracking anyway, so stopping charting is not going to do shit. Because I’m a perfectionist. And I have an anxiety disorder. And I’m a Bikram yogi who’s gonna finish this damn summer challenge if it’s the last thing I do.
And then after the last thing, I’m gonna eat some badass Italian food with Mari, and drink an entire bottle of wine. Yeah.