Finding Gratitude: An Interview with Hillary Maxwell

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It was the summer of 2018, and seven years had passed since my college graduation. My lack of a career path plagued me with daily anxiety and kept me underemployed as a barista at Starbucks. I had just spent five months seeking help from a career and life coach only to have her straight-up tell me, “I don’t know how to help you.” I couldn’t have felt more humiliated and ashamed of myself. I was a straight-A student turned failure.

While I received constant love and support from loved ones, it was never a match for the voice in my head telling me I would never be good enough, that I would never amount to anything. I decided I had nothing to lose by throwing myself back into my yoga practice I had abandoned three years prior. I had already put off finding a yoga studio long enough, worried I wouldn’t fit in, that I would be scoffed at because of my rusty yoga skills or that I obviously looked like I couldn’t afford a wardrobe of Lululemon. What I was met with at kOMpose was nothing like that. I was welcomed, accepted, and mostly importantly, taught how to love myself. I took as many classes as I could, and after years of fighting my body with traditional cardio workouts that only left me feeling frustrated, I had finally found a way to accept my body for what it could do.

The more classes I took, the more the self-love practice I had learned on the mat began to integrate into my everyday life. I found myself taking moments to stop and breathe, and I began to forgive myself for little mistakes I normally would have beat myself up over. I reminded myself to be thankful for things in my life I usually took for granted. Yoga had become not only an essential part of my life, but part of my identity. I was a yogi, and I was proud of it.

While I can’t say that yoga has fixed everything, I find that I carry myself with a bit more confidence than I used to. I’m still miles away from figuring out a career, and while I do struggle with moments of self-judgement, I’ve been able to make peace with it, at least for now. Yoga has been a gentle reminder that everybody is different inside and out, that one person’s capabilities may never match another’s, and that just because you did something perfectly one day doesn’t ensure you will be able to do it just as perfectly the next. While it’s easy to get caught up in everything we wish we could be—or feel like we should be—it’s good to take a step back, look at who we are, and be grateful for it.