Today, Joanna Gaines is one of America’s favorite ladies– in fact, she was voted one of the top 10 best-mannered celebrities of 2017. But in a recent interview for Darling magazine, Joanna opened up about her childhood and how far she had to come to get to where she is today.
“If you haven’t heard my story, my mom is full Korean and my dad is Caucasian,” she told Darling. “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; the way you take that is, ‘Who I am isn’t good enough.'”
Joanna shared that because of this, confidence is something that never came naturally to her. “I don’t think confidence has ever really been one of those things that came naturally for me,” she said. “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.”
She shared that she remembers the fears she had walking into the lunchroom at school: “In the lunchroom everyone was a blur and I was thinking, ‘How do people do this? How do you find that one person to sit with?'” she said. “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.”
Once her family moved to Waco, Texas, she felt as though she was accepted and was able to make friends– but when she went to New York for college, the same feelings rushed back. “I was by myself again where it was just me in a big city, and I remember that came back up again — just the thought of, ‘Am I good enough?'” she said. “For six months I wrestled with my identity and the themes of, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What’s my purpose?’… and I kept remembering that time in the bathroom.”
Over time, she realized her own purpose: to help women who weren’t confident. “I discovered that my purpose was to help people who are insecure because I didn’t like the way it made me feel, in that stall; that’s not who I am,” she said. “So while I was in New York I really felt like God was telling me that I would be able to help women who weren’t confident, who were looking for guidance or who were lonely.”
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Now, she passes on wisdom to her own kids about her experience: “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,” she says. “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.”
Chip and Joanna are currently expecting their fifth child together, and are in the process of opening their own restaurant in Waco. You can check out Joanna’s full, exclusive interview with Darling here.