Junior High-Confidence

Lacking confidence is something I know everyone experiences. I hope to teach Autumn to love, trust and have confidence in herself and the choices she makes. I often wish my parents had pushed me more as a kid. I would start something and never follow through. I did tap, jazz and ballet, but I quit right before the recitals. I told my parents I didn’t want to do it and they just said okay. Looking back, I not only let down the teachers who spent their time teaching me but I let down myself. I let fear stop me from having experiences. I let fear stop me from pushing myself, even as an adult. Recently, I told myself I would try to push myself out of my comfort zone more. Try new things. And I like to think I have. My sister Ashley and I joined a mixed martial arts gym. Not only is it a great workout and something I never thought I would do, but I find that I really enjoy it and look forward to going.  I hope to encourage Autumn to try new things, enjoy new experiences and push herself. Even if she fails, I will show her how to get back up.

Junior High is a vulnerable time for children. Our bodies start to change and we need friends and a good support system to help us through it. When I started Junior High, I felt lost. I was in limbo. I would barely show up to school. My grades were horrible. I had no one encouraging me. No one telling me I could do better. I lost a lot of friends. It felt like they were moving forward as I was standing still. There was so much I had to figure out on my own.

It really started the year before my parents divorced. In sixth grade, I was pissed and sad that my parents split up. I NEVER did my homework, so I would have to stay inside at recess to make it up. I literally never went outside with my classmates. Every day was the same. One day I finally did my homework and when I was able to go out to play it was like being released from prison. The feel of the sun on my face, playing on the swings and just being able to run. It didn’t last long. The next day was back to homework detention.

In junior high not only did I feel stupid, but I was not taught how to take care of myself. We didn’t have a working bathroom at home, so showering was out of the question most days. I didn’t know I should be wearing deodorant, washing my hair or even brushing my teeth. I know that sounds stupid but it’s the truth. With all of that, plus having trouble in school, my confidence level was pretty much nonexistent. Then you add in all the wonderful changes that happen to the female body and it’s not a surprise that I was a mess.

The first time I shaved my legs I only did it because I saw other girls in my class had. I went home, found a razor and gave it a shot. There was no shaving cream. It wasn’t the best experience, but I learned on my own and figured it out with trial and error. I wasn’t bullied but I also had no real friends. Like I said before, most of my close friends had moved on. They had support behind them and didn’t realize I needed help (but they were just kids like me so it’s not their fault).

It felt like it was me against the world — against my mother, my body, my school. When I looked in the mirror, I hated everything I saw. I hated my smile (still do, but I’m working on it), my old clothes that didn’t fit, my body, my unkept, unbrushed hair. Everything.

My parents didn’t communicate so things like the dentist and doctor just didn’t happen. I didn’t go to the dentist after my parents split up until I was in my 20s. That’s a regret I will always have because now here I am at 37 with a shit ton of work to be done on my teeth. Same with the doctor. On Christmas night 2021 I had the worse pain I have ever felt. I couldn’t move. I thought it was a Lactaid issue. But two days later the pain had only gotten worse, and I couldn’t eat or drink anything. I went to the hospital, and it turned out to be my Gallbladder. I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s having my first ever surgery to remove the gallbladder and gall stones. The surgeon told me it was one of the worse cases he had ever seen. Maybe if I had gone to the doctors on a regular basis, it could have been caught sooner and I wouldn’t have gone through so much pain. It wasn’t till after the surgery that I finally found and went to a primary care doctor, and I plan on keeping up on that.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for my friend Steph, I don’t know that I would have made it through Junior High. We met in first grade and hit it off. But it really wasn’t until Junior High that we became family. She was the only person who instead of judging me saw that I needed a friend. She would invite me to her house before and after school. She loaned me her shampoo and conditioner and let me shower at her house. She encouraged me and gave me a second family. I know it sounds so simple and silly, but this small gesture made a huge impact on my life and how I felt. I am getting teary-eyed just thinking about it because she gave me the tools to have confidence in myself again. I am forever in her debt.

Junior high was the toughest two years of my life. You could not pay me enough to go through it again. The loneliness was overwhelming. I just wanted to hide from the world or start over. Occasionally, I still get that feeling. I think it’s because I felt that way at a young age and it is imprinted in my mind. I am constantly judging myself, gaining and losing confidence and sometimes have trouble seeing how great my life is. But with that said, I continue to work on myself physically and mentally and I like to think I can see a difference. I am lucky to have the best friends, husband, daughter and family (now) to support me and tell me when I am getting inside my own head. I will be there to help Autumn through those milestones, support her and show her the importance of friends, a support system and taking care of her body and mind.

High school and my early 20’s was a whole other ballgame but I will talk about that in the next blog! Thank you all for your continued support. Please remember I would love to hear your feedback, your own experiences or anything you want to share. This is a safe space that we can all use to share out experiences and feelings.