Sadie Bingham, MSW, LICSW
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    Wellness: Just Another Hustle

    “Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.” – Colin Wright

    As a child I fell into the trap of perfectionism, hoping that if I did all the right things and acted the right way, my parents would quit fighting, drinking, and ultimately leaving. This flawed thought process found its way into my academics, physical appearance, and my pursuit of optimal health. When I was 23 years old I submerged myself into the pursuit of wellness.

    Was this because I valued myself…or because I was striving once again? A little bit of both.

    Here is my issue: in one week I will come across a book, article, social media post, interview, etc. that tells me how I should and could be better than who I am today. First and foremost, I must get 8 hours of sleep, then I need to exercise weekly, have a vibrant sex life, hang out with my girlfriends, eat a well-balanced diet, have a creative outlet, and don’t forget to meditate! This may sound ludicrous, but trust me, this is the wellness hustle and it’s become a trillion-dollar industry.

    I was submerged into the wellness circle when I became a certified yoga instructor. I was with a group of beautiful young adults who could bend and twist their bodies into contorted shapes. As a group, we would sit in circles and all vie for our teacher’s attention, desperately trying to present ourselves as more enlightened than the next. This was also the time that I had a huge falling out with my yoga mentor. My mentor was the person who encouraged me to become an instructor and I placed her on the highest pedestal. It did not take long to realize that the serene, smiling faces that checked you into the yoga class were just regular ole people with problems and hindrances like the rest of us.

    I did not enjoy teaching yoga – but it was through this process that I realized what I did love. I loved practicing yoga and the community of yogis I got to practice alongside with. I loved the philosophy of yoga and the healing properties it brought. But that did not mean I had to love teaching. In fact, it was through this time in my life that I began to realize nothing would save me. For years I wanted to teach yoga to escape my spiritually draining and underpaid position with CPS. So, when I became an instructor and saw that this industry had its own hang-ups, I realized there was no magic escape.

    For me, if it wasn’t yoga it would be something else. Anything to help me better handle the experience of this life. Could this essential oil really improve my anxiety? Or this crystal actually help with my confidence? If I meditated every day would I finally become serene? I have come to realize that the answer is no.

    What I know to be true is that nothing outside of me will ever heal me.

    The only way for me to be “saved” or “loved” is when I do the work and turn inward. That has been the only time any relief has been sustainable. And now I participate in the wellness culture with a grain of salt — seeking a balanced approach above all else.

    To this day I can spend hours in a crystal shop and devour any self-help book. And I do try to get enough sleep, be active, love my family, practice yoga, and meditate daily. But I don’t do this because I am looking to be saved. I do these activities because I see that each one, in their own way, assists with how I navigate this world. And the real work for me is knowing my own worth when I haven’t the time to meditate, or I am too anxious to sleep, or I am in a fight with my husband, or I can’t make it to yoga. Who am I – or who are you when we stop the hustle? Am I ok? Am I still lovable? Are you? That’s the real work, my friends.