(Reading this may sound like my life was only horrible, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t. There were lots of awesome in my growing up. This just happens to be my story of my internal struggle with loving who I am. This is the realness of what went on onside my head.)
Growing up I had never really paid attention to my daily inner dialogue or was ever really aware of how I treated myself. I just went about each day trying to do and be the best of what I knew how at that time. I was always shy. I can’t recall on my own, but my mom tells me, I was always that way from the get go. As far back as I can remember, I would avoid conversation like the plague if I could, unless I knew someone really well. It was uncomfortable and I didn’t have much self confidence. This shyness around those I weren’t SUPER familiar with attributed to how I started to perceive myself, based on others perceptions of me because of said ‘personality’.
I did well in sports growing up and that was who I labeled myself as because that’s where my ‘confidence’ came from. It came because everyone knew Janica as ‘that Wood girl’ that was good at sports. I was pretty good. I’ll admit to that. I helped our soccer team take state my senior year as the PK (shoot-out) goalie. We won 3 games in a row going into shoot-outs to make it to the final game. I was named league MVP in basketball and got the Female Athletic Award at our School. I lived for sports. I felt important and could feel proud of myself there. I knew my teams counted on me.
I have always been taught from day one that I’m a daughter of God and I know that more deeply than ever before now, but growing up, I didn’t totally get it. All my confidence came from being known through sports.
I was always comparing myself to my two sisters. I have a sister 6 years older than me that gets along with ANYONE and immediately is their BFF. I have a sister 3 years younger than me that is the most bubbly, yellow personality whom EVERYONE loves. Then there was me. Janica. The shy one. Through the grapevine and sometimes straight to my face, I was called stuck-up, b***h, self-absorbed, etc. They saw me with my close friends being talk-a-tive and crazy, but if I was ever in a class where I didn’t know anyone really well I would stay to myself and get my work done then walk to my group of friends, sometimes without saying a word. In my eyes, I wasn’t as ‘likeable’ as my two sisters. The crowning moment that ‘proved’ that point was Jr. Miss. I participated in the program like my older sister, who won the Fitness Award, and also was named one of the runner ups. My younger sister also won the Academic Award and four or more other awards AND was named the Junior Miss of North Franklin.
That HAD to have meant I wasn’t as good as them and so I accepted that as a belief for me.
I was often, if not everyday, made fun of because of my ignorance to certain subjects and it became something that was pointed out and laughed at by sometimes my closest friends in group settings (usually consisting of guys I liked. And in high school, that was a big deal, right?! 😉 ).
I grew up thinking I was stupid and didn’t know anything. And I let that be a part of who I ‘was’. I did EVERYTHING I could to get out of math my Junior and Senior year of high school to avoid being put on the spot and looking dumb once again. Math did not come easy and it took a lot for me to understand what most all of my other classmates seemed to understand easily. I can’t even remember how it was possible, but I didn’t take math my Junior or Senior year and took two straight hours of art instead. I was good at art and no one could make fun of me in there.
I put myself in this victim mentality and I truly believed everything that happened to me or was said to me was how I really was and who I really was. I was Janica Wood, good at sports but shy, self-centered, stupid and not as fun or pretty as my other two sisters.
I was always sick growing up, too. The front desk at the insta-care in town knew me by name every time I walked in. I had mono in 7th grade, had intestinal flu, and I was a frequent to get allergy shots at another health center and had 2 sinus surgeries within a year of each other. No one else in my family was as sick as I always seemed to be.
So sports was my way of me feeling like I was important. I felt like a star there and I liked it there. But it was all coming from outside of me. So what happens when sports ended for me? I chose not to play at a few different junior colleges in Washington for basketball that were interested and instead chose the acceptance into Brigham Young University, merely on the fact that I felt like that’s where I was supposed to go and it must have been a miracle because SURELY there was no way that I was smart enough to get into BYU.
This is where it hit me that I didn’t have much self acceptance or self-esteem to live off of anymore. I cried many tears, okay okay more like I sobbed when my parents left to go back to Washington after dropping me off at BYU. I was rooming with one of my BF’s growing up, but she was a year older and our other four roommates she had already been roommates with for a year, so I was the only newbie and a freshman. That was hard. I cried a lot at night that first month and I’m pretty sure I went home once a month that first semester and it’s a nine hour drive.
I went from being, Janica Wood, ‘the one to watch’ in sports to 1 in 30,000 students on campus. It was rough. I felt like a nobody who was going to flunk out of college because I’m dumb. My roommates were awesome at making me feel accepted and we had good times, but deep down I tore myself apart. That first year, I wanted to be back in high school, I wanted to be on my ‘high of sports’. I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t fun enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I didn’t dress cute enough. I always skimmed by doing the very least I could do to pass my classes in college. Classes where things didn’t come natural in learning, I struggled BIG time. I would stare at my computer screen with the thoughts on replay in my mind, “You’re stupid so how will you ever even really learn or remember any of this”, “If you go ask for help or get a tutor it will make you look even more dumb than you already are”.
During the beginning of my fifth year at BYU, I met my husband and we got married later that year. That brought a whole new aspect of things for me to compare me and my life to. BLOGS. I kept pretty busy my very last semester doing my internship and working, so it was after I graduated and had a job where they only needed me for a handful of hours each week that led to me blogging and blog stalking. I was looking for another job and couldn’t find one that fit my other schedule so I was home a lot. Then came more comparing. Comparing their perfect married life to my less than fantastic first year of marriage 🙂 It was a rough go and I’m positive now that my negative attitude toward myself and comparing to everyone else’s ‘perfect online lives’ contributed to that crappy first year. (Don’t worry, my husband would agree 100% with me that it was pretty craptastic).
I was a big fat mess in my head and I wasn’t even 100 percent aware of what I was doing to myself internally. But I put on a pretty good show on the outside. It got pretty bad at times but I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know how to change it, I just felt like that was my lot in life and I just had to deal and there was nothing I could do.
I had our second child, and I suffered with post-partum depression. I wasn’t taking care of my body. I struggled with eating problems and had to stop nursing because my health was declining. I struggled with feelings that there was no use for me anymore.
Soon after that, my older sister introduced me to a fitness program she joined and was a part of. I wanted to do whatever she was doing just because she looked awesome and I wanted that physical appearance. I thought for sure if my body looked better, I would feel better about myself and it would fix everything. I knew there was something more to it that I was needing but didn’t know it at the time. She introduced me to Iron Rhino, an online fitness program. This is where I first started to really understand the power of my mental strength. I pushed passed physical limits that I didn’t even know were possible. This is where my wheels started turning and where I started to understand that I could be stronger than the girl I thought I was that looked back at me in the mirror every day. I was getting stronger mentally, but I didn’t quite get it yet.
The next few years I started learning more and more about the power of our minds and about strength and getting rid of old thoughts and beliefs. It was amazing and I felt amazing, but there was still something missing.
Then one day a mentor and friend of mine asked me this simple question in reply to something I had asked her. She asked, “How do you show love to yourself?”
I honestly did not know how to answer that because I had never even thought about that! I had to google “what is showing love to yourself”? I didn’t even know if I even did anything or what that would even entail! After reading through a few things I found, I fit A TON of the ‘not loving yourself’ column. I did do a couple of things but not with the intent of showing love to myself or doing these things solely because I loved me! They were usually things that I did so that I could be a better mom or wife, etc. A few weeks later I asked her that same question back to her and one of her answers were, “…basically I’m the nicest person to myself that I know”. That’s when it hit me. I am NOT nice to myself. I pick myself apart like nobody’s business. I don’t purposefully do things with the intent that I’m doing them because I love Janica.
That’s where things really started to change for me. I started reading ‘self-help’ books, I started purposefully making sure that I did things EVERY morning and during the day that fueled my ‘self-love’. I sought after anything that would help me grow and learn. I got a few mentors and had a lot of sessions that helped clear blocks that I had mentally. I was able to really get down deep. Sometimes it hurt, a lot of the times, I cried. My eyes were opened to the fact that I actually had hated myself and I hid it so deeply that I wasn’t even aware. I wasn’t even accepting all these things I was doing for myself to show myself love. I was doing all these things, but internally wasn’t accepting them. I was denying myself my OWN love because I didn’t think I was worthy of it and I didn’t even know.
Then I was able to be aware of how I was treating other people and noticed that when I took care of myself FIRST, WITHOUT feeling shame or guilt, I was able to be present with my kids and show them the love that they needed. It’s still a work in progress and some days definitely go better than others but it’s been an amazing start and turn around for me.
I now understand the value and importance of showing ourselves love first and then we are able to more fully love, serve, and take care of others around us. It opens a lot more doors, it keeps us on a higher energy level and is just a beautiful thing. I started noticing a lot more in depth of how women specifically don’t give themselves the time of day. They work like crazy making sure everyone else has their needs met and then are too tired or forget about taking care of their own.
That’s when Fuel Love was born. I am excited about helping others learn to love themselves and that it’s OKAY and you NEED to. I’m passionate about sharing those things that fuel your own personal love. Love Is Everything and it starts with YOU. We can create, we can expand and we can LOVE. We can Fuel Love.