"Growing up in the Marine Corps came with a lot of sacrifices. Nine moves in 17 years. Bouncing between schools, adjusting to yet another new neighborhood, making new friends and only to have to give it all up in two or three years. Making new friends every time we moved was the hardest for me. I was the typical shy, smart kid. When kids wanted to talk to me it was generally because they needed help with school work. I often ate lunch alone and would draw or read until next period. When we moved to Glenview, IL and I started high school, I decided to graduate a year early. I knew we would likely move in three years and hated the idea of starting over my senior year at a new school."
"So I studied and worked at the school library during my lunch period for extra credit. I graduated in 2005 and just as I thought, we were due to move. Just a few months after graduation we moved to Beaufort and that was 11 years ago now. I went to USCB and earned my business degree. I barely made it through college. Traveling between the two campuses, long times between classes and I worked. It was incredibly overwhelming. After college I went into retail management and had great success there. I was the department/store flipper. If a department or store was struggling I was pulled in to help turn it around. I received a lot of praise and awards during this time. Even with all of my career success, I really struggled with being happy and confident in who I was and what I brought to the table. Surely all of the nice things being said by my bosses, my customers and all of the positive things I had received were just luck or because they were being nice to me, I had a terrible time accepting that I worked hard for what I had. It wasn't people feeling bad for me. I EARNED those things. It really wasn't until maybe 2 or 3 years ago that I really believed that."
"Fast forward a few years and I made a transition from retail management to personal training, which was completely by accident. I wasn't an athlete. I had never ran a mile. This had brought on a fresh sense of self doubt. I studied like crazy and was fortunate to have met someone who worked at a community fitness facility that needed extra help. I worked at that club, and several other clubs, learning as much as I could from other personal trainers I admired and the business owners. I learned how to help people move more efficiently, reduce pain levels and improve their quality of life. Though I didn't realize it at the time, my clients helped me as much as I helped them."
"Over the last four years I've worked so hard to get to the point where I run my own business. This is where it has all come full circle for me and I can see with such clarity. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up but I had my family. Because of them I am unshakable. I had fears and doubts about my worth and what I could contribute to the world. My clients remind me all the time how much better they feel because of our work together. Because of them, I am confident and know what I bring to the table. I wasn't an athlete growing up but because I worked hard at it and now I am strong."
"I'm 28 and I'm just now getting to the point where I breathe easy. The fears and doubts of inadequacy are so far now. That isn't to say that they don't pop up periodically but now I have all of these wonderful people and experiences to remind me it's just a passing moment. For all of the women in my life, I feverishly hope that you, no matter your age, ethnicity, religion, race or orientation, learn to be unshakable. That you learn to feel confident. Not just in your skin, but in your soul. I hope you know that you bring so much more to the table than just your looks. That strength comes in many forms and you are so strong. I hope that you find a way to put aside your fears and doubts so you can use the fierceness I see in you and use it for whatever you are passionate about. Lastly, I hope that we all lift each other up and pull each other forward. It's because of the people in my life that have lifted me up, pulled and pushed me forward, that I have grown to be the woman I am today. If we all managed to do that for each other, I think the world would be a pretty remarkable place."
Beautiful photos by The 2654 Project, Bluffton, SC