What was your biggest fear when you were fifteen?
I was a hot, hot mess when I was fifteen. It was the year that my family left Georgia to move to Utah and, of course, there were the natural pitfalls that come with being too old to take direction and not old enough to make your own decisions. But if anyone asked me what my biggest fear was, it was absolutely a fear of abandonment. Not even intentional abandonment but just having everyone that I loved and cared for withdrawing their love and support from me.
What is your biggest fear now?
I thought I was a hot mess at fifteen but that is nothing compared to how I feel now. Having kids and being married –not to mention being an adult –is so much harder than I imagined it would be. And while I still fear abandonment, nothing sends me into a complete panic attack like thinking about something happening to my children. I don’t want to think about it –and it has completely prevented me from being able to read news article or watch shows where something happens to a child.
What did you love the most?
I loved my books. Books were my sanctuary and my saving grace. When I felt like I couldn’t face the world, I knew I could escape to a fictional world. Sometimes the books helped provide clarity for my own life and sometimes it was just nice to escape to a world with dragons and other mythical, nonexistent creatures.
What do love the most now?
I still love my books but nothing could possibly compete with my two little munchkins. Whenever my six year old says or does something that mirrors my own behavior –which is basically all the time –I am flabbergasted by how much this little person is like me! I am overwhelmed when she goes out of her way to be compassionate and generous because it baffles my mind that I made that. Most of the time, I look at my seven month old and my heart feels like it’s going to just pop because she is so cute! And again, I made that! I would sacrifice everything that I have to give for those girls without even having to think about it. I would take their pain and endure it to spare them. I couldn’t even imagine this kind of love as a teenager.
What was your biggest hurt you were most afraid people would find out?
I did not feel comfortable in my own skin. I was in a constant state of self-deprecation and criticizing myself because I always felt like a failure and a misfit. I was weird and lacked self-confidence. I was sure that people were always judging me and talking about me behind my back to the point of paranoia. As a result, I was unnecessarily loud and opinionated. It made it hard for me to make friends –especially the right kind of friends –and to keep friends because I would take it too far and I could be so mean. Mistreating people always led back to me hating on myself and thus the cycle started again.
How did you overcome that hurt?
Time. Time, growth and experience were the only things that could convince me to be who I am and to not care what people think as long as I can go to bed at night feeling like I was a good person. I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self-confidence but I have to come accept that at twenty-five, I’m not done growing. Ask me if I’m comfortable with who I am when I’m seventy. I should be done cooking when I’m seventy.
What is your current superpower?
I feel like if I’m not doing something crazy like flying around and moving things with my mind that it’s not a superpower. We can thank the outrageous number of books for that one. But the thing that makes me feel invincible and superhuman would probably be writing. I write fanfiction (I would never have admitted that when I was fifteen for fear of censure) and while I’m not one of the most popular fanfiction writers, I have a loyal following of readers. The reason they are loyal isn’t because I make their favorite characters do crazy things –though that does happen –but because when I write the characters, they grow and endure. I read once that writing is bleeding words onto a page and my ‘superpower’ is being able to write big, hard, engulfing emotions in words that people can relate to. I feel powerful when someone tells me that they didn’t know anyone else felt the same way until they read what I wrote. That sounds braggy. I’m not saying the words are amazing but they’re relatable.
What is your current superpower according to a loved one?
My husband says that it is my ability to function on a disgustingly small amount of sleep (lamest superpower ever!). My six year old says that she thinks it’s my ability to make her feel safe and loved just by holding her and that she feels like she can do anything because she knows that I love her no matter what.
What is an obstacle you’ve faced to be who you are today?
Being the all-knowing, super mature teenager that I was, it’s not really a surprise that I made huge mistakes and life choices. Shortly after turning eighteen, I met a guy who was almost twice my age with a child only six years younger than I was and I convinced myself that I was mature enough to be his wife. He was looking for someone to take advantage of and I was such an easy target. My family hated the whole idea and maybe if I hadn’t been so determined to be all-knowing and prove to everyone that I was mature, I would have seen the warning signs. Instead we got married two months after meeting, ended up with a honeymoon baby –who I don’t regret for even a second –and I found myself in a failing marriage full of physical and mental abuse. It was like a boomerang: every time I found the strength to leave, I ended up coming right back. And then one day, after a little over a year of this, I looked in the mirror and literally didn’t recognize the person I had become. I didn’t want this as the example of how marriage and relationships work for my innocent daughter. And I found the strength to go and stay gone. It took years to get his voice out of my head, to stop reacting like he was still there making decisions for me. I found myself taken down to cells and I had the rare but grueling task of building myself up from nothing into whoever I was meant to be. I questioned everything I knew about myself and all my beliefs which resulted in having watertight convictions and knowledge of who I was.
At fifteen, what part of you, physical or otherwise, were you insecure about but have now come to appreciate and wish you would have celebrated?
My nerdiness. Without a doubt, I was a nerdy teenager. I made Star Wars references and had seen every episode of Star Trek. I wrote fanfiction! Is there anything nerdier than taking characters and writing them into my own situations?! I could quote a movie after one viewing. I was weird. And I was so ashamed of being that weird. Probably because people didn’t know how to handle my oddities but by thinking I was weird too.
And while I might not be making money quoting movies from memories or knowing an actor’s filmography off the top of my head, I love it when I can have a conversation with a complete stranger about comic books versus cinematic universes. I love that my husband and I can lie in bed at night and debate silly things like which Star Trekfranchise was the best. Not everyone is comfortable with what a geek I am and to some people it seems trivial or juvenile, but it makes me happy. I imagine that I wouldn’t have made some of the decisions or mistakes I made if I had just been happy with who I was instead of trying so hard to be what other people wanted me to be.
What is the one thing you would tell your fifteen-year old self right now, after experiencing what you’ve experienced as an adult?
Stop rushing to be an adult. Don’t look so hard for your future husband or plan what kind of house you’re going to live in. Stop focusing so hard on everything that you want to come and spend more time evaluating who you are because how can you be happy with the choices you’re making if you aren’t happy with who you are? You’ll grow up. You will find an absolutely wonderful man to commit to you and love you forever; someone who will make you laugh so hard you snort and then tease you for snorting. You will have beautiful children who will amaze you every single day. You’re going to grow up and have this wonderful life and experience so many different things so don’t cheat yourself out of being young by trying so hard to be an adult.
What is a misconception people have of you?
A lot of people think that because I have a lot of enthusiasm for juvenile things and because I retain completely useless knowledge that I don’t take things seriously. I’m pretty sure that my husband could attest to the fact that sometimes I take it all too seriously. I throw myself into silly things like Mel Brooks movies and pop culture because I would be committed if I let myself spend all my time thinking about all the depressing thoughts that wait in the recesses of my mind to be focused on. Because who doesn’t want to laugh at guys pounding hollowed out coconuts together and riding imaginary horses, especially when the alternative is to focus on mistakes you can’t fix?