Surprised?!? Really? Seriously?

A couple of times recently, a Bikram teacher has told me s/he is “surprised” I can do something.  I’m sure it was meant as a compliment, but I was really taken aback.  I mean, surprised? surprise That implies I should NOT be able to do whatever it is.  And why would s/he think that?  I know I’m a bit fat, awkward, and inflexible, but aren’t I in class in part to work on those things?  Shouldn’t a step in the right direction be “Good for you!”, not “Really? You did THAT?”.

I know I have more than a few readers who are teachers – both of yoga and of academics – and I’d be interested in your take on this.  Because frankly, it bugs the shit out of me.  It’s condescending, judgmental, insulting, hurtful…I could think of a few more adjectives, but you get the idea. 

You’re basically saying you didn’t think I could do whatever it is.  Well, while I don’t think I can do anything I set my mind to, I am pretty sure that (one example) my forehead touching my knees in Rabbit was not on my list of “I can’t”.   Oh, by the way…I’m proud of my forehead touching my knees.  That was DAMN hard for me.  When I started practicing, pressing my chin to my chest could totally bring on the beginnings of a panic attack, so to roll all the way down, ending up with my nose, and yes, my forehead pressed against my knees, is a BIG.FUCKING.DEAL.  To tell me you’re surprised negates my hard work and you might very well, if overheard by the struggling yogini next to me, make her feel like she can’t get there.

In general, I don’t think “surprised” is a good way to compliment someone, whether a student, a friend, or a co-worker.  The underlying thought, at least in my mind, is always going to be that you had unreasonably low expectations of me, and that’s just, well, not very nice. 

So, hey – good for you!  Look what you did!  Can you show me how to do it too?

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn LEary
    Mar 04, 2014 @ 14:03:07

    So glad to reconnect with your blog again! thanks for asking for my comment on FB!!


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