Who am I and where am I?
Are they here? Yep… time to hide. I was so shy and scared of other people, I would even hide when my relatives came to visit. And on top of it all, I had to make friends while attending three different schools in two different provinces – all for Grade 1. By the time I was 18 I had lived in 12 different homes, in 4 different cities, or towns.
So my childhood was a time of small birthday parties, having only one or two close friends and being unsure of myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust other people; in fact I was very trusting… maybe to a fault. It boiled down to a lack of belief in me.
And just to make those times a bit more “fun”… I was a pudgy kid. Not really fat, but pudgy enough to get the name-calling and teasing that goes along with it all.
Well OK… perhaps the pièce-de-résistance was the absolutely horrific hair-cut I was subjected to as a kid. The ultimate bowl cut… but short… basically I looked like a pudgy boy. Not a great confidence builder for a shy girl.
Later in elementary school I turned to humor as a way to hide my insecurities. It felt comfortable, and people seemed to like it. I loved that feeling. The downfall? I started to use it as a crutch… as a way to hide who I really was. Truthfully, at the time I didn’t care. I just wanted to fit in, and have some friends. Now I catch myself when I am forcing the humor, noticing when I am consciously thinking of something witty to say just to get attention. Weird that I still use humor for acceptance… guess some old habits are hard to break. At least the consciousness of it is apparent to me now.
She’s too fat for me…
I hit the breaking point; I couldn’t stand the teasing any more. I decided then and there to do something about my weight. So I began my journey by going totally overboard. For about one year in high school I was anorexic. I kept thinking I was fat as I withered away to a mere 97 lbs., with the look of a horror-flick zombie. But I didn’t see it.
My relatives admired my will-power and commented on how good I looked… at least at the beginning. It’s amazing how admiration and comments like that can fuel a fire… even one that shouldn’t be burning in the first place. I was more motivated than ever.
The day of reckoning…
My friends and I were sitting in the library and one of the girls had a magazine in front of her. She talked about an article she read on anorexia, and how people who suffered from it were admitted to the hospital for treatment and recovery. Then she left the library with the article still open on the table. I grabbed the magazine and read voraciously. I DID NOT want to end up in a hospital… I hated hospitals. It’s like I knew I wasn’t on a healthy path, and I just needed someone to tell me the truth… which she did. Thanks to Kathy Sanftleben for saving my life. She sensed what I was going through and, in turn, found her calling to become a nurse.
So I started eating again, and have maintained a healthy weight since. I found that sometimes a “moving away from” motivator can be just as powerful as a “moving towards” motivator.
Off to college…
At the tender age of 18 I left home to attend college. Here I was, this shy girl heading off on her own. I was apprehensive and yet excited too. I knew one person in my class, and he dropped out shortly after…yikes… alone again.
And then an amazing thing happened. I was elected as our class representative. “Weird,” I thought, “in high school no one would even have considered me as leadership material.”
This totally brought me out of my shell; I decided that if these people had faith in me and saw me as a leader, then “damn it Jim”, I’d be one. For me, the way to “cure” my shyness was to put me out in the spotlight and force me to step up. It wasn’t like a light switch from shyness to confidence, but it did get me to start opening up. Little did they know they’d created a monster… or at least a rock star wannabe (if only I could sing).
On the road again…
$500 in my pocket and a car load of household goodies… I was moving to the “big city” of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Totally freaked out by the size of the city and the traffic, I picked the first apartment I saw a “For Rent” sign on. It turned out to be in one of the most “undesirable” neighborhoods in the city, with frequent visits from the local police force. Guess I wasn’t the confidence queen quite yet.
All along though, I was learning and growing, traveling the path to discovering who I was. It just seems to me, looking back, I was driving a moped rather than a Ferrari along that path. To speed up that journey, I just needed someone to share it with.
My dream man…
OK… cliff hanger… to find out who my dream man is and how I met him, you’ll have to read “The Coolest Couple” story.