I was generally always a very self-conscious person. I was not pretty not ugly, not skinny not fat, not great at anything not horrible at anything. I just was. And I hated myself for it for a very long time. And I was filled with jealousy of those that were pretty/skinny/great/yadayadayada. (And what a waist of time that was, I tell you.) When I try to describe myself as shy and self-conscious, I always picture my highschool friends laughing because they will remember crazy/loud/funny Val. But the reality is, that was a mask that I wore. And I wore it well. If I can't be as pretty and skinny as you, I'll be funny and loud and make fun of myself and then I'll have friends. I may not be getting asked out on dates, but people will think I'm funny and like me. And it worked for a long time.
The distinct moment I remember my life taking a turn was when I dropped out of college and took a job as a flight attendant in New Jersey. Now, in hindsight this wasn't a GREAT life decision. Not finishing school on time and taking a normal 9-to-5 job has hindered me in a lot of ways and ugh the debt and ugh the stress. But still, it did change my life in ways that are for the better. I left Bakersfield to get away from that old Val that wore the funny girl mask; to get away from a boy that was making me feel even worse about myself; and just to get away.
And I did. I moved to New Jersey and made a new group of friends and became this other Val. I wasn't wearing a mask any more. I was just me. And this weird thing started happening where I had confidence and people came to me for advice and guidance. I wasn't covering up insecurities with jokes. I was just being me. (And kind of a trashy me, but I mean come on...it was JERSEY.)
And obviously Jersey didn't work out. But I got so much out of it. Confidence, independence, and just the realization that I could be who I really was and not worry about what people thought. (Duh) So that was my moment. As stupid an idea as it was and as much as it didn't work out, I'm so glad I did it.
This is Jersey Val. Jean dress, cleave, hair poof - the works!
And side note: if I hadn't moved to Jersey, I wouldn't have been home when I was that winter for Mike to ask me out on our first date and the rest is history lalalalala.