Who Would Have Thought I’d Be This Girl? ~ Melissa Petty

Via Melissa Pettyon Aug 12, 2013

handstand yoga

The beginning of my path, though I take ownership of my own steps, is one that might sound familiar.

I really “found” yoga (in the deepest, most honest sense) when I was 20. Very much like almost every girl at that age, I had a really fucked up concept of self-worth and an even worse body image.

In retrospect, I viewed myself in through other people’s eyes. I created an imaginary perception, the way that I thought people saw me…and I hated that girl.

Which is to say: I hated myself.

That summer, I rolled out my mat. I dedicated myself to a practice that I thought at the time was going to be purely physical. I wanted to lose weight and tone up, plain and simple. I think that’s a common motivation for people to come to practice.

The experience that I had instead is hard to describe—unless you’ve been there yourself.

Without even realizing it the girl that I thought I was, the girl I had built my whole life around being, had disappeared. I found myself that summer. I learned that you are who you decide to be. That other people’s opinions of you don’t matter.

That not everyone is going to like you—and it’s ok if they don’t.

In January of 2009, I lost my mom very suddenly. I was 21 years old. And in many ways I found myself back to square one. But this time, instead of seeing myself through the eyes of others…I had no concept of self at all. I was adrift.

I managed to make it through my last semester of college (barely). I packed my car and moved to Columbus, Ohio searching for a fresh start.

Once more, I found my way to my mat.

I could say that yoga healed me and changed my life. But in reality yoga gave me the tools to heal myself and change my own life. I regained my breath. I cleared my head. I cried through savasana. I found myself at peace soaked in sweat. I transformed the hurt and anger and sadness into productive emotions. I found the strength to look forward instead of down.

But that sense of internal peace took a lot of work. Who am I kidding? It stillL takes a lot of work. Every. Damn. Day.

Some days, some practices, it just isn’t there. I’m grateful for those moments, just as much as the times when it all comes together like a dream. There are going to be times when you feel helpless, or livid, or overwhelmed, or any of the millions of variations of shitty moods there happen to be. And sometimes you need to feel those things, really feel them as deeply as you can, so that you can move on from them.

Yoga has taught me countless lessons; the most influential, the one that keeps me coming back is the knowledge that I have choices and that nothing is permanent.

Wayne Dyer said, “How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.” The same goes for life as a whole. Things are always evolving, and most of them are just plain out of your hands.

However, the thing that isn’t subject to the randomness of the universe is your attitude. You have the power to make the most (or least) of anything that comes your way.

Most of the people that knew me when I was that sad girl who felt defined and judged and victimized by things and people she had no control over have had some surprising reactions at my personal evolution.

Recently a childhood friend of made the comment, “Who would have ever thought you’d be this girl?”

I did.

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Bryonie Wise

About Melissa Petty

Melissa is a yoga teacher, coffee lover, beer enthusiast, amateur blogger and merry maker living in Columbus, OH. When she is not on her mat, Melissa enjoys cooking, snuggling her sister’s kids, and enjoying her amazing city and all it has to offer. Melissa received her 200 hour training from ShivaShakti Sythesis RYS under the guidance of Janice George and Connie Phillips. In addition to the two wonderfully strong women, Melissa counts Tara Powers and Josie Schweitzer among her local yoga heroes and inspirations.

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13 Responses to “Who Would Have Thought I’d Be This Girl? ~ Melissa Petty”

  1. Janine says:

    This really resonates with me. Thanks for your article. janine

  2. Anne Samit Anne says:

    This discovery can happen at any age, including mine (twice yours!).

  3. Stacy says:

    Love this. It speaks to me, as I can relate with my own path to and thru yoga. Thank you for sharing your voice. Beautiful.

  4. Hannah says:

    I become emotional reading this, as I felt I could have been reading about my own experiences of self discovery.
    I am also living Columbus, and would love to know what studio Melissa is an instuctor at?

    • pertyyy says:

      Hannah, I teach at several studios around the city. Thank Yoga in the Short North, Balanced in Clintonville, and GoYoga in Upper Arlington and New Albany. I would love to have you in class.

  5. Lara Falberg says:

    Go Melissa! Great article, and you are BEAUTIFUL!!!

  6. Emily says:

    I really loved your article and really related to it. I too started yoga at a young age and am so grateful to have a practice I can turn to in my happiest and most difficult time

  7. Karen Mozes Karen Mozes says:

    Melissa, thank you for your beautiful article. You described the journey of a true hero – one that is not afraid at looking at the pain right in the eye and yet is able to discover the gift it can bring. A lesson for all of us.

  8. Chelsea says:

    I read this in an attempt to motivate myself to like yoga and then that night headed to the studio and Melissa was my teacher. The girls at the studio were talking about the article and I made the connection. I had never met her before. So strange. I have really, really enjoyed her class. It’s funny that ‘setting your intention’ is just something people say until you do.

  9. Jeremy says:

    Great article. Love the picture. Reminds me of home.

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