Hi. I’m Ainsley. I was going to write my bio in 3rd person to make it sound more professional, but my intention is to connect, and that felt really stiff to me. When building this website, I started building my content with the “about me” page. So assignment number one was going deep. Who even am I?! That answer has somewhat changed as I have lived and I am grateful for the chance to evolve. So here is a little bit about me, my past, and who I am at the moment.
I was born in San Diego, California but raised in Memphis, Tennessee. I am the youngest daughter of two very loving and supporting parents. My older sister is my best friend. I had a near picture perfect upbringing: well liked, happy family life, excelled at sports (and school when I felt like it), class president, team captain, homecoming queen, blah blah blah. Are you bored and/or cringing yet? Are you wondering what this has to do with my “story”? Read on.
I was introduced to yoga about the time I started to get my shit rocked. I took my first yoga class at the suggestion of my lacrosse coach. I loved it. It was mentally and physically challenging, I sweat buckets, and it was lyrical enough to remind me of dancing. Fast forward to a few months later and I joined a competitive lacrosse team in Baltimore, Maryland (southern lacrosse was not what it is now). I went from being team captain and MVP to EASILY the worst player on that team. The head coach repeatedly told me that I was not good enough, that I didn’t look the part, that I was too skinny; that I wasn’t training hard enough because I didn’t want it enough. Say those things enough to anyone and they’ll start to question their worth. It didn’t take long for the things he was saying to me to become the things I was saying to myself. I started obsessing over my diet, waking up at 5 to work out before school and cheerleading practice and ran lacrosse drills after practice. Long story short, I started telling myself I wasn’t good enough. Not just in lacrosse. That I could, and should, be more perfect. A year prior to this, I started taking Vyvanse to manage my ADHD, so obsessive behavior became second nature.
As a result, my mental and physical health really took a toll. I went to therapy but was too ashamed to admit to my therapist that I was feeling lost and defeated. The happy, positive Ainsley was there somewhere, I just couldn’t access it. Happiness was always one more accomplishment away. I had streaks of ulcers lining my stomach my senior year from self induced stress.
Fast forward to college, I still didn’t know who the hell I was because the person I felt to be was told repeatedly by herself and others that she was not good enough. Picture perfect resume but so very broken inside. I tried my best to not let anyone in on my little secret. I tried my best to act like my true self; although I doubt I fooled anyone. My sophomore year, one of my high school friends passed away in a car accident and I did not know how to handle it (see above: near perfect upbringing). I became severely depressed and was too ashamed to share my grief with anyone, especially my high school friends. I felt because I wasn’t his closest friend that I had no right to be as affected as I was. I locked myself in my room, sometimes for a few days. I would stay in bed with the lights off. I took antidepressants, stimulants (Vyvanse), and tried my best to maintain the illusion of normalcy. I was in a state school and a sorority that I chose because it felt like that’s what you do if you’re from Memphis. I felt like I was living someone else’s life and wasn’t sure I had the balls (sorry, mom) to turn it around.
My mom came to visit me and took me to a yoga class. I felt a shift but was too depressed and ashamed to go to a public class, so I bought a DVD from Target. If I did it first thing in the morning, I had the confidence to attend my university classes. Little by little, I started coming back to me and became a regular at the Glowing Body in Knoxville, TN. I went to yoga class almost every day. With the guidance of teachers, I was taking the advanced class on Wednesday nights instead of partying and yoga classes on Saturdays instead of tailgating. Not that any of those are wrong or bad! Just not really my bag. Yoga gave me the confidence to say, “Good for you! Not for me.” Which was HUGE. I stopped taking my antidepressants cold turkey (in hindsight props not the best method) and felt BETTER. It was a miracle! It was yoga. I knew that if I helped someone help themselves, much like the teachers who taught me, I would have fulfilled my purpose.
So here I am. Yoga has brought me lasting friendships, travel opportunities and most importantly, yoga has brought me back to myself. The more I practice, the more limitless and joyful I feel. I am able to see that in others because I feel secure enough in myself again to appreciate the masterpiece that is humankind. Not that there has to be the official end goal of yoga practice (not that it even needs one), but for me it works. I truly love my life and love myself; and I love you for reading this much! Kidding. But I do love you; if you don’t know me personally that may sound trite but I really mean it. Love changes everything, and when we are able to love ourselves, we can really begin to love others. And with that, magic happens.
Mood music: “Right Hand” by Drake