I can still remember the first time someone told me that I was fat. I was only 10 years old and was riding my bike as I often did in the summer. A boy, perhaps a year or too older than I, felt the need to offer his opinion regarding my size. I didn’t really know how to respond, so I said nothing and rode away. Although I don’t remember ever weighing myself at that time, I’m pretty sure I was at a healthy weight for my height and build. Still the careless comment from a boy I didn’t even know felt hurtful and found a place in my subconscious only to rear it’s ugly head as I entered puberty. Being a year or more younger than many of classmates, I was just beginning to notice the bodily changes of the process when a lot my peers had already transitioned through the most awkward aspects of puberty. Combine that with the fact that I was pretty much a tomboy, that nagging doubt about my sense of self seemed to magnify what is an awkward and challenging time for most adolescents anyway. Outgoing by nature, I found ways to assuage my self doubts. I played to my strengths, I did well in the classroom, participated in athletics, and hung out with friends of both sexes. But I did not date and worried that perhaps I might never be asked out. I suspected that my size and big personality intimidated the boys. And honestly I didn’t make much effort to get them interested in me that way.
After graduation, I went away to college, first to local community colleges and later to Fresno State and then University of Oregon. I don’t think that my personality (or even my appearance) changed significantly during my college years. I still made friends easily, I was outgoing, and maybe even a bit intimidating to some. What did change was my sense of self. I was more comfortable in my own skin. Still I was surprised that first time a young man asked me out. Gordon was a firefighter with the campus fire department at Fresno State. We had never met before he happened by the booth where I was giving massages as part of a school festival. The next day he called me on the dorm phone and asked if I would like to go to dinner with him the following weekend. We dated for several months but our schedules and aspirations were not in sync so we parted ways. But I do think it signaled a turning point in my confidence, especially in regard to the opposite sex. He was interested in me as a person. I didn’t have to be something or someone other than me. I learned to relax and let nature take its course. I dated off and on for the next several years until I met my husband, another firefighter, also when I wasn’t looking. He loves me just as I am. And isn’t that the way its supposed to be?