How I Learned to Start Putting Myself First

Photo:

Jeremiah Bostwick

Alexis Novak is a yoga instructor, mobility enthusiast, and certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT). As a contributor for THE/THIRTY, Alexis will be sharing her knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics, and meditation to help you find your own personal balance between strength and serenity. Her approach to wellness is to simplify and keep a sense of humor. This month, she opens up about how she learned to stop apologizing for merely existing—and how it's led her to go after what she truly wants.

Something shifted for me in the past year. Obviously, the political climate and rampant outbreak of sexual abusers brought to light (making my Facebook timeline an ongoing nightmare every day) have changed my emotions a bit, but it's also something else.

You see, I have lived in constant fear (for my entire life) that I am not good enough. That I am in everyone's way and that people innately do not like me. It has stemmed from my biological mother leaving me in a parking lot as a baby and never really showing any interest in me. Because of this core rejection, I never felt that good things were meant for me. I could never audition for the school play, because such fun and adoration were saved for those who "deserved" it. Instead, I took the job as stage manager and watched those who I had deemed "deserving" from backstage. This theory I had contrived in my head stuck with me through a portion of my life. I wouldn't apply for jobs I wanted and was always too afraid to show people the real me. I once was so sure I had wronged someone while driving that I rolled down my window at a stoplight and apologized for cutting them off. (Yes, that really happened.)

I moved to Los Angeles five years ago with the intention of taking a crack at comedy writing. I was quickly told by many that it's a "tough world to get into," especially for women. As usual, I recoiled and remained at a safe distance while my friends and my boyfriend actively pursued their dreams in the industry.

I have been a yoga instructor for nearly 10 years now, and it's something I love to do. I am grateful and fortunate enough to be able to sustain myself on teaching private lessons, promoting wellness brands, and modeling activewear. It is something I know I can do—it's safe and steady. But over time, I developed an urge to write funny social media captions instead of the ethereal ones I would see other self-professed online yogis posting. While they're beautiful sentiments, they don't really connect with me. In fact, I used to post sunset photos with Rumi quotes while crying in my car because I couldn't pay my rent or because my mom missed my birthday again. It didn't feel right to post uplifting captions when I live on earth, and earth is sometimes hard as shit.

So, slowly, I started writing jokes and putting them as captions for my yoga modeling photos, in hopes that people would laugh and relate to them. To my pleasant surprise, they resonated, and people started responding to them. At this point, I was set on the idea that comedy writing alone (without the safety net of being a yoga instructor) wasn't enough to support me. After all, I'm just a yoga instructor—I'm not supposed to be funny.