Four strangers and two cats – why I’m going back to the studio

It was October 2015. I was living in a beautiful apartment in Boroughbridge. I was two years into my recovery and feeling settled and happy, building a life that was very different to the one I had before. One of hobbies, new friendships, yoga and lots of learning. Life was feeling good.

I went into work and announced that I was imminently going to be moving house. This was quite out of the blue and there were lots of questions; Where? When? Why? At this stage, I didn’t know where. The when was two weeks’ time! I’d asked my landlady if I could leave before the end of my lease, and she took that as me giving immediate notice. I had two weeks to find my next home.

The why was the most interesting question. It was partly financial; living alone was expensive! But it was also more profound too. I had started to become a little too comfortable in my daily routines. I loved living alone. I loved not having to consider anyone else’s needs. I loved everything being perfectly tidy and exactly as I wanted it. I loved this so much, I knew that if I ingrained these patterns for much longer, I might never be able to live with anyone again! I viewed a couple of places and immediately knew the one for me; it was a 5-bedroom shared house in the middle of Harrogate. I would have my own bedroom and share the house with four strangers and two cats.

Fast forward to September 2021. Once again, I have had an interesting last two years. This included a sabbatical in India and the global Covid-19 pandemic, beginning almost as soon as I got home. I experienced great privilege though the pandemic; I was able to shift most of my life to operate “from home” – working from home, teaching yoga classes from home, chatting to friends on the phone from home. My previous patterns have been turned upside down, but I have really appreciated the spaciousness, the extra time for learning and exploration and the fewer demands on my time.

It’s felt comfortable.

A little bit too comfortable.

As everything begins to reopen and there are more gatherings, celebrations and events, I find a deep reluctance to engage. I don’t want to be around people. I don’t like crowds. I don’t want to go out in the evenings. The office is open, but most days I convince myself that it would be better to work from home. I recognise a level of social anxiety that was not there before. My narrative of “thriving at home” is masking an increasing fear of the outside world. As a keen travelling and self-styled life-adventurer, I don’t want to let my world shrink to the four walls of my flat. I want to stretch and grow and rekindle my love of visiting new places and meeting new people.

At the end of this month (26th September) I will be leading my first in-person yoga retreat day. From October, I will be teaching both of my weekly yoga classes from the Balance Wellness Centre in Knaresborough. This is less convenient for me than teaching them from my living room. It’s going to take a bit more time and a bit more planning. It’s going to take me out of my comfort zone and drop me into an outside world that still feels unfamiliar and a little bit scary. But the only way to disrupt those feelings is to change my patterns, to do something different and a little bit brave. Perhaps you’d like to join me?