Anyone who has watched Joanna Gaines on the wildly popular HGTV series Fixer Upper that she stars in with her husband, Chip, can’t help but notice the natural confidence she exudes as she beautifies all that’s around her.
But according to Gaines, that confidence did not come easily.
During an interview with Darling magazine that resurfaced this week, Gaines revealed that she often felt insecure at school as a child and was even bullied.
“I don’t think confidence has ever really been one of those things that came naturally for me,” Gaines explains. “If people thought I was confident, it was really just the way I masked my insecurity, because I didn’t want people to really get to know the real me.”
Gaines revealed that other children made fun of her racial background (her mother is Korean and her dad is Caucasian) and that it confused her.
“Kids in kindergarten would make fun of me for being Asian and when you’re that age you don’t know really how to process that,” said Gaines. “The way you take that is, ‘Who I am isn’t good enough.'”
According to Gaines, she let those feelings “build up” and when she moved to a new school her sophomore year and didn’t know anyone, she “didn’t know what to do with herself.”
“My parents told me, ‘Walk in. You’ll make friends like you always do,'” she said. But when lunch time rolled around, she got to the cafeteria and was baffled.
“Everyone was a blur and I was thinking, ‘How do people do this? How do you find that one person to sit with?’ So I literally walked in the lunchroom and walked out and went into the bathroom. My fear and my insecurities just took over and I felt like I’d way rather sit in the stall than get rejected,” the soon-to-be mom of five recalled.
I can definitely relate to this. I really struggled with self-esteem when I entered middle school. I had left my comfort zone and my group of friends for a school where I didn’t know anyone. I was often mocked by the popular girls because I developed early and was already displaying hips and breasts. It shook my confidence in a way that I had never before experienced.
Gaines revealed in the interview that her experience that day in the school bathroom helped shape who she is today and how she parents her four children.
“That experience grounded me in that I want to look for the lonely, the sad, the people who aren’t confident, because that’s not where they’re supposed to stay,” she explains.
Gaines wants her children to learn that lesson as well.
“I always tell my kids to look for that kid on the playground who’s not playing with anybody, to go reach out, ask them their name, to look for the kid in the lunchroom who isn’t sitting by anybody, be their friend.”
What amazing advice! I know that as a mother, nothing makes me more proud of my children then when I hear about a way that they were kind to someone else.
Gaines admits that, like most of us, she has struggled throughout her life with questions of “Who am I?” “What is my purpose?” and “Am I good enough?”
She also says that she believes confidence can be confusing, saying:
“You think beauty is confidence, you think what you have is confidence … when really confidence is a mindset of, “I am created to do what I do, to be the best at what I can.” It doesn’t come from your giftings and talents, it comes from knowing who you are and that there’s a purpose for your life.”
This is what we love about Joanna — she is as beautiful inside as the homes she breathes new life into. It’s also a comfort to know that she has struggled with the same insecurities and doubts that we all face, but has demonstrated what can be possible when you find your purpose and embrace all that life has to offer.