Your names/a little about yourself?
My name is Emily Ager, but feel free to call me Em! I'm a 23 year old mental health advocate, self love enthusiast, yoga lover and burrito worshipper living in Toronto. Hit me up on Instagram @emtheyogi
What do you do? I am a tutor, soccer coach and an education consultant. I plan to go back to school in 2018 to become a social worker or psychologist. But, as mentioned, I have a passion for yoga. I am starting teacher training in September.
Why did you get into that? My love of working with people (esp. little kids + adolescents) came to light when I landed my tutoring job last year. I love the purity of children, and the astonishing growth that we can witness. I love helping kids realize and reach their full potential (while having fun, of course). My love of yoga originated after being diagnosed with BPD + PTSD. I had finally gotten out of a terribly abusive relationship, and I had no sense of self. I lost my way, and that's where yoga came it. It helped me find Emily. It helped me heal and find the person that I was always meant to be. How did you get started? Pure motivation. To me, life felt meaningless. In order to find my purpose, I had to put one foot in front the the other every single day (even when I would rather disappear into the abyss). Name 3 words to describe you best? Bubbly, Quirky and a Warrior
Which females influence you the most? My mother is, undoubtedly, the most influential female in my life. At 9, she lost her father to a heart attack. Growing up, she suffered from anxiety. As a mother, she has faced many difficult challenges. Her first born was 2 months premature, and born with cerebral palsy. Her youngest (me) was diagnosed with cancer at age 20. Our family has been to stranger to adversity. Her resilience and unconditional support is unwavering. She has taught me bravery, strength and love.
What struggles have you over come and how?
Struggle has been the foundation on which I have built my life. I was diagnosed with anxiety at age 12, depression at 17, Hodgkin's lymphoma at 20, borderline personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder at 23. I was also in an abusive relationship that nearly killed me at age 23. I know, right? Yet, I have not and will never let these diagnoses become who I am. They are a part of me, but not the whole me. Through many different therapies (CBT, DBT, PE, ABVD) and medications, my conditions have all become stabilized. I have been in remission for almost 3 years - yay!!! My mental health has significantly improved as well. I have been sober for over 6 months and have not self-harmed in that time. If there's one thing I want to share, it's that healing takes time. Whatever you may be going through, be patient. Love yourself and be kind to yourself. You'll get there.
How has your role of a woman pushed you forward or held you back?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. Not only because my mom was, but because it was a "female" career. It was either that or a nurse and I hated blood. Many times throughout my life I have struggled with gender norms. I have always been an athletic individual, yet growing up, I was told that I could never amount to anything because I was a girl. At 7 years old, this was disheartening. Gender stereotypes have clouded my world, even years later. After going through an abusive relationship, I felt silenced and alone. I didn't want to reach out in fear of being labelled "a weak and deserving girl". I was coerced in silence. Fortunately, after becoming so in touch with myself and my values, I've broken through these gendered barriers. I no longer care how I will be perceived; I will do what I want for me.
How do you stay positive and focused? I have realized that if I identify with my negative thoughts, they will take root and grow. However, when I challenge my negativity, it allows me to look at the positive side of every situation. It all comes down to being mindful of every moment. Feel everything - even the things that you don't want to feel - and let go. A warm bubble bath or cotton candy ice cream works as well.
Any words of advice for future girl bosses following in your footsteps?
Not every day will be easy. Some days will be so tough that you may contemplate giving up because there's no point anymore. But, there is; there is a point to all of this. And that point is you. You are strong, beautiful, resilient and so very loved. Keep on shining.
What is one quote you stand by? "The world doesn't just need light; it needs your unique light."