For this post, I’m going to take you on a journey.
Growing up, everything about me was medium. I have always been medium height and medium weight. For the majority of the time I have had medium length hair. My eyes are medium brown, my hair is in the middle of brown and black. I’m the middle child. Even my skin is in the middle of white and black.
To paint a more vivid picture, this is what I looked like as a child:
This is what my awkward stage looked like (and how I still feel internally most of the time):
This is what I looked like in high school:
And this is me now:
Just kidding, y’all:
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I agree to a certain extent. I told you earlier that I’ve always been medium, and the pictures back me up. What they don’t tell you however are the stories behind them.
When I was little, I was shy. (Shocking, I know, based on that first picture.)
I was timid and always felt out of place. I also had a lot of anxiety that has followed me throughout my life.
I always had a strong intuition on what was right and what was wrong, and rarely let people convince me to do something I believed wasn’t in my best interest.
I was lucky enough to attend a small, private school, which allowed all students to experience the “big fish in a small pond” mentality. I was weird and I was different, but I was safe.
In grade school I was never ready to do what people my age were doing. Instead of gossiping or chasing boys on the playground, I wanted to sit and read. If my friends were making fun of someone, I would feel a strong compulsion to sit and play with that person instead. This need to do the right thing paired with my overwhelming anxiety and need to be liked by my peers made my grade school and middle school years very conflicted.
From a young age I was not willing to succumb to peer pressure, and even then I knew that made me different.
As I grew up and moved to high school, I tried to take control of my anxiety. I became involved in every extracurricular and club I could. I was a member of the French Club, a part of S.A.D.D. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and focused on building up a group of like-minded peers. Unfortunately, no matter what I tried, I still felt unfulfilled.
In my sophomore year of high school I worked backstage for the fall play. As I spent my evenings painting sets and building props, I realized that this was what I had been missing. This was a way I could combine my true love of musical theatre with my need to help people. It wasn’t until I found my passion in backstage theatre that I began to truly feel at ease. For the next few years I threw myself into every production that I could, even auditioning for my first community theatre production in the fall of 2013.
In the spring of my senior year of high school I began to feel something I hadn’t felt in nearly three years. Behind every smile and laugh there was a fear and feeling of dread. I knew that as I started college I would need to pick a major and my carefree days of singing, dancing, and working backstage would come to an end.
In my first two years of college, I changed my major four times.
I started out as a theatre major, throwing caution to the wind and hoping my passions would take me as far as I wanted to go.
After three months I realized that was not the right decision for me. I quickly declared myself undecided and prayed for an epiphany.
After voicing my struggles to multiple trusted sources, I was overwhelmingly told that it didn’t matter what I wanted to do, if I wanted to make money, I needed to be a business major.
Being a business major lasted all of one semester as I quickly remembered that when it comes to numbers, I have no idea what I’m doing. After five months of struggling and a severe hit to my GPA, I said goodbye to a BS in Business.
I then needed to attempt to make up the time that I had squandered and quickly chose general communications because I had already satisfied some of the requirements. It was during my semester of general communications that I took a class that changed my life.
The class was titled “Public Relations” and my advisor stuck me in it because she guaranteed it would be an “easy A” and a way to rebuild my GPA.
Walking into class the first day I had no idea that that semester would change everything I thought I wanted for myself.
Our first assignment was a getting to know you project. We were instructed to interview our partner, find out their likes and dislikes, find each other on social media, offer advice for problems, and build a relationship with that person that would be the basis of our friendship in the class. When we met for class on the second day, our professor told us that the activity we had just done was what life as a PR practitioner was like.
I was shocked.
He went on to tell us that PR professionals work to maintain positive relations, build up the organization they work for, spend time on social media building a brand, and have to be social creatures to create friendships and relationships. He told us that essentially, a PR practitioner’s main job is to help.
Sitting in that class I remembered all of the times growing up that I felt lost because all I wanted to do was help, and didn’t have the means. And the times where I felt like speaking up for someone who couldn’t speak for themselves. And the sense of fulfillment I felt after a day spent volunteering.
It wasn’t long after that class started that I changed my major to public relations.
Since then I have volunteered for three committees in a community that raised me, and served as chair for two.
I have planned two summer workshops for Corn Stock Theatre to benefit kids in the Peoria community.
I have been a part of $3.1 million capital campaign to raise funds for a school that means the world to me.
I have an internship with a nonprofit organization that works to give back to the Peoria area.
And I feel as if I’ve found a home.