My Story is a series where people with “differences” share their personal story or experiences to validate and inspire others.
We are so pleased to present Erika Carle’s story of how she overcame her personal insecurities on being “different”, by embracing who she is as a person and becoming Boldly herself. Thank you, Erika, for sharing with us, and inspiring others through your hard work and uplifting story!
Before I share my story, I want to thank Alanna Powell for what she has done here. This non-profit does amazing things, and although I am across the country from where all of this takes place, I feel the sense of welcoming Alanna has put forth through this non-profit.
Let me start off by saying, I never fit in. From the time I was an elementary school girl, I didn’t look like everyone else. My hair was sometimes out of place, a freckle here and there, and maybe a few pimples as I got older. But more importantly, I was never the size that was expected of me.
In third grade, I kept to myself as I had just started at this particular school a year prior. I loved reading, and was very quiet. As I think about that year, one day sticks out. I remember two of the mean girls, if you will, came over to me and asked, “Why don’t you talk?” As I think back on it now, I wish I could have explained what I felt but I also realize it wouldn’t have mattered to them. I was an easy target, someone to pick on because I was quiet, but mainly because I looked nothing like them. I had on a pair of comfortable leggings that I wore quite often because I liked them, and I can remember them saying, “Why are you always wearing those ugly things?” I didn’t say anything but simply shrugged because I was and am never the type to want a confrontation. And when the end of the school year came, it didn’t matter that I had won some award given by the principal, all I remembered was that time when those girls laughed and made fun of me.
And I wish I could say it got better but it didn’t. In fact, it got worse. As the school children got older, their words became meaner and they stung even more. I didn’t think that was possible because every harsh word stung, but each harsh word stung more so than the last.
I remember coming home from high school one day and just crying. I wondered when it would end, when things would finally feel like normal. I was tired of how they were treating me, and I was tired of feeling like I didn’t matter.
Around this time, I encountered someone incredibly special, a dear friend who changed my life that year and who continues to be someone I look up to and someone I feel privileged to know. When I was going through this rough time, I remember watching an interview of her and she said something that stuck with me: “I don’t want anything to do with someone who doesn’t want anything to do with me because of the way I look.” Mind you, she is probably the most flawless human being I’ve ever met but she was right and that just stuck with me. I wanted nothing to do with these people. They weren’t people who had good character and I knew I never wanted to be anything like them.
Now that I am in my early twenties, I have learned that I don’t have to let people’s negative opinions affect me. I don’t even have to be around those people if I choose. I have learned that I am bold enough to know I am worthy just the way I am.
The people who love me and care for me do so because they love me as a person and how I make them feel. The physical side does not factor in for them.
There are days when I doubt myself, just like any human on this earth. Sometimes, when people pass me by and they’re laughing, I have to wonder ,“Are they laughing at me?” The majority of the time, that is just my own insecurity sneaking up on me. I oftentimes have to remind myself that I am a beautiful person and there are people who love me for me, and that if I encounter one or two people who think otherwise, I am bold enough to know their opinions are not important to me.
Do You Have a Story?
Do you have a story about overcoming (or still working on!) your own difference? Validate, encourage, and inspire others by sharing it with us and our readers. For more information on how you can share your story, go to our submission guidelines page.