Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve always struggled with the feeling of “fitting in.” I’m an introvert, uncomfortable in large groups of people, awkward at times and very serious. I was overweight, and my closest friend in second grade said to me, “We can’t be friends anymore because you’re fat.” I was bullied. I ate alone in the cafeteria, sat by myself on the school bus. Kids were mean, and I was never a part of a group. Every day after school, I went home and cried. I felt hopeless, wondering if I’d ever find my role in the world.
Then I found athletics, fitness and nutrition. I started playing volleyball, making friends each year I played on a team. I was never very good, but I found an outlet to sweat it out and be a team player. In college, I found a personal trainer who overhauled my diet and exercise. Now I eat healthy foods that make my body feel great – lean meats, vegetables, lots of protein – and I lift heavy weight. The girl who never wanted to show off her body is now working every day to make her body something to be proud of.
The biggest change came when I found what I was good at – journalism. The minute I started writing, I fell in love with telling stories. The minute the camera started rolling, I could be myself – and people liked it! I could show off my personality and I never felt like anyone was judging me – it was just the camera. I interviewed interesting people and became so energetic and comfortable learning their stories. I found people who are all different, people who need to be celebrated for being different. I found confidence in my abilities. I developed a thick skin. I learned that I’m talented at something, and it can take me a long way in life.
When I think back on what I went through growing up, I’m appreciative of the hardships and the lows. It prepared me for a business that’s full of judgment and cattiness. I’m great at what I do because I can handle anything that comes my way.
The definition of endurance is hanging in my bathroom: The power to withstand pain or hardships; the ability or strength to continue despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions. As someone who survived a dark storm in life, know you won’t be the same person that walked in – and you’ll be ready to take on the world.
Be fearless. Do everything you’re afraid of doing. Trust your instinct, and never stop learning. Find a passion and start pursuing it, and don’t let anyone stop you. Find out what you want out of life and go get it. Most importantly, own who you are.
I still struggle to this day with body image. The bullies still bother me. But they’ve made me stronger, and they won’t be a part of my life forever. Someone’s opinion of you is not your reality unless you believe it. Words are powerless without your acknowledgment. Give no one but yourself the power to direct your path.