Look, I get it. We all have the right to self-expression; it's an American right and a human right - whether all nations will acknowledge it or not. We certainly are living in LOUDLY interesting times. No doubt about that.
Still, the idea of foregoing my professional relationships - relationships upon which my livelihood is dependent; relationships upon which my reputation is dependent; relationships which took years to cultivate - in order to spew out all of my thoughts on social media or even right in someone's face, well, seriously, the thought made me shudder.
I just can't get with that idea. I feel that, as a professional who really wants to be taken seriously by ALL of my clients and students, it is my responsibility to be all things to all people.
Does this mean I alter my opinions based on the person I'm talking to? No, not at all. Does it mean I pretend to be someone I'm not in order to make others feel comfortable? Absolutely not.
Here's what being all things to all people means to me: it means I make myself accessible and approachable and reasonable so that my students feel like they can relate to me; so that my students feel safe being themselves in my presence; so that my students will be able to attend my classes, get their exercise, enjoy fellowship with me and their classmates, and be free of thoughts of the world's problems for this half-hour or hour (if they desire to be). It means my clients never have to concern themselves with what's going to happen when I walk into their buildings. They never have to worry about walking into one of my classes and finding that it has devolved into empty debate, thereby having to concern themselves with what's going to happen the next time I walk into their buildings.
You see, I have clients; I have students. They're not my friends and family. They're not my enemies. They are not - not a single one of them - "the problem," regardless of who they are. Therefore, it is simply not about me; it's ALL about them.
In this, of course, I can only speak for myself; I don't mean to disparage the poster of that announcement. We must be true to ourselves, after all. But to me, in a professional setting, graciously hearing and acknowledging the thoughts of others without interjecting my feelings is not a burden; it is not a censoring of my intellectual property; it is not trampling upon my rights. No. To me, it is nothing more than being good at my job; nothing more than caring more about those I am working for than I do about my opinions.
I want my classes to be a refuge from all the crap that will most definitely still be there when class is over. I want my students to be able to concentrate on their bodies, on the music, on their relaxation, on their goals. I want them to have fun. I want them to leave my class physically tired and emotionally refreshed; but even before that, I want them to enter my class confident that they are indeed getting away from it all for at least this little bit of time. I want my clients to rave about how invigorated their residents are after one of my classes. I want them to know they can trust me.
Why would I plant seeds that might cause them to doubt me, to resent me, or even to feel closer to me based on things external to our purposes in class, based on things external to our overarching goal of health (which involves the physical, the mental, the emotional)?
Being self-employed, to me, is a grand privilege; one which was given to me after more than 40 years of struggling through where my heart did not belong. I'm not going to forego those relationships that are tied to this wonderful privilege, not for anything and not for anyone. Not even for my right to feel.
I have friends and family and acquaintances for that. I have social media that is not linked to my students/clients in any way. And I have journaling. And I have screaming at the television in the comfort of my own home or perhaps even in the discomfort of a sports bar. But when I'm dealing with my clients, my students, and even prospective clients and students, I leave all that stuff outside the door - even if it's only a figurative door - and then I go in.
Believe me, all the crap I set outside will be there when I get back.