Unapologetically Strong

When I was a child, I was so shy that I would be physically sick before the start of a new school year, simply because I knew that I would have to introduce myself to the class. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye, I would stammer out answers if I had to answer a question. I never raised my hand, even though I was smart and usually knew the answers. So, how did I go from that shy little girl to a woman who enjoys public speaking, teaches classes full of exercise participants, and can move with social ease amongst strangers? Because I was (am) Unapologetically Strong.

From this scared little girl…

After struggling through elementary school basically hiding from teachers and other students, making few friends, I entered junior high seemingly destined to continue my lonely life.

But, something happened. From somewhere deep inside, a person that I didn’t know existed, an Unapologetically Strong person, began to rise up. Oh, it was a slow process. It took years and continues on through today. That person instinctively knew what she needed to do.

It started with drama class. When picking my classes for my first year of junior high, I picked drama. And loved it! When I was acting, I really was brave and strong. I could look people in the eye and speak. But drama class was only the beginning. I also took speech class, participated in debates, did lip syncs in front of the whole class (59th Street Bridge Song-I was Feelin’ Groovy).

My personal life, though was still lonely. When we moved in my junior year of high school it was devastating. I can’t remember making a single friend during those last two years of school. I stuck with drama though.

One of my first jobs was selling vacuum cleaners. The kind of salesperson who you invite into your home to demonstrate the amazing capabilities of the product. I was a lousy salesman, but the point is, I had to push myself to my limit to even open my mouth to speak. But I did it, and in doing so came a little farther along the road to social freedom.

After that brief stint as a door to door salesman, I continued taking jobs that forced me to be social. Waitress. Restaurant Service Manager. Activities Director. It was the latter job that finally turned the key in the lock, so to speak, that allowed me to permanently come out of the shell that I had created for myself. And it was all because of a water aerobics class.

Part of my job responsibilities as an activities director was to teach the aquatic exercise class (I also taught line dancing and arts & crafts, but they didn’t lead to social success). Before teaching the class, I had never exercised before. I’d never lifted a weight, done an aerobics class, gone for a run. I had a lot to learn. One of the things that I learned was that exercising made me feel wonderful. It made me feel confident, something that I’d never felt before. And that made me strong. Unapologetically Strong.

From water aerobics I went on to land-based aerobics, then weight training. I started running, then racing, and found I was pretty good at it. My self esteem grew as I discovered that I was a strong and successful woman. I could look people in the eye. Speak from the front of the class. Walk into any situation and feel confident that I could handle it. And once I got to the front of the class, I learned something new about myself. I loved being there and spreading the word of fitness to others. Fitness, which for me was the difference between throwing up before school and social success.

…to this much more confident woman. Still a work in progress.

I’ve stayed with the fitness path, from teaching group classes, to personal training, to coaching. My newest goal is to complete training as a Pilates instructor, a form of exercise that I feel is amazing for building functional and balanced strength.

And finally to this Unapologetically Strong woman.

These days I hardly think about my shyness. It’s still there, it is just something that I am so used to ignoring, it doesn’t get in the way anymore. I told my strength class this morning (there were only two and we were chatting between sets) that I was shy and they laughed at me. That was the best laughter I’ve ever heard.

Do you have an Unapologetically Strong story? Don’t we all? If you’d like to share your story, you have an opportunity to win a prize from the Degree Woman® Unapologetically Strong Facebook Contest! Whether it’s beating your own personal record, striving to run faster, workout longer, or go above and beyond your regular routine, Degree Women® will be there to provide inspiration along the way. This can be fitness based or other aspects of your life (started a blog, challenged yourself, tried something bold and new, traveled to a place you never thought you’d go).

Share your unique and inspiring story and you have an opportunity to win $5,000 to spend to help you achieve your goals. The Facebook contest continues through September 26, so head over to the Degree Women® Facebook page and share your story.

Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews has partnered with Degree Women® in celebrating Unapologetically Strong women and asking them share their boundary-pushing journeys on Facebook. Join Degree Women® on Facebook for a chance to make your goals a reality. Erin relates her Unapologetically Strong story in the video below.

I am also excited to be able to try Degree Women® with motionSENSE as part of this campaign. When I teach classes I tend to work as hard as the students, which can leave me pretty sweaty and stinky. And seeing that I am at work, I am not able to pop in for a quick shower. So I need some serious protection. Degree Women® with motionSENSE is engineered with technology for superior long-lasting protection. Their tagline, “the more you move, the more it works,” gives me hope for a non-stinky success story.

If you’d like, you can follow Degree Women® on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from One2One Network and Degree Women®. I received product for review and this post makes me eligible for additional incentives. All opinions stated are my own.

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  1. says

    Debbie, I relate to this post SO MUCH. I was so shy for so many years – okay, still am, but I like to think I’m better at hiding / coping with it than I used to be. I still get nervous when I have to speak in public and I, too, have taken jobs that force me out of my comfort zone.

    Here’s to you for being unapologetically strong, and unapologetic about who you are. You rock. :)

  2. says

    I have a similar story- definitely grew more confident in junior high through sports, and even more so in high school through extracurriculars like yearbook. It’s fun learning more about you and hearing your story- so glad you became the strong woman you are, look at the impact you’re having on those around you now!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…Countdowns: Conference and ComebacksMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you. I’m looking forward to trying the Degree Women. There was a time factor in getting this posted and I had to post before it arrive. I have heard a lot of good things about it, so I looking forward to trying it.
      Debbie recently posted…Unapologetically StrongMy Profile

    • says

      I look forward to reading your post. Funny out things come out. When I first started thinking what made me Unapologetically Strong it was not overcoming my shyness. But the words just flew from my fingers and that’s how the story developed.
      Debbie recently posted…Unapologetically StrongMy Profile

  3. says

    It’s so great to hear your story and thank you for sharing it. I can definitely relate. I grew up shy and still am to a large degree, especially among a large group. But like you, through the years and definitely through fitness, I’ve become more confident and been able to find my voice more. Still a work in progress but at least there’s progress!! :-)
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Friday Round-Up: Mattering, Growth, Double Standards and Shout-OutsMy Profile

    • says

      I truly believe, that along with the jobs I’ve taken, my drama and speech classes, that fitness and the self esteem that I developed from being fit, was the most important part of my journey (that is a very convoluted sentence, but I hope you know what I mean!).
      Debbie recently posted…Unapologetically StrongMy Profile

  4. says

    I love this post! as an adult woman, i still have times I try to talk my friends into making uncomfortable calls for me. You are an inspiration, and you totally rock!!! I always feel inspired when I come here, no matter what it is!!!

  5. says

    Thanks for sharing your story, you are strong! I too was very shy (still am in many situations) but feel that running has helped me so much with that and many other aspects of my life. I have overcome so much that running has helped me with including illness, pregnancy and parenthood (okay not overcome but helps me be better), grad school, family stress, etc.
    Jen recently posted…Surviving the craziness of back to schoolMy Profile

  6. says

    Amazing. I was miserable all the way through HS because I had never found myself. I had no confidence and it put a damper on everything I did.
    I really relate to your story, because I too have turned into a woman who is apologetically strong (I hope) and I discovered my strength in a similar manner. I discovered fitness, theater, public speaking, and began to care about me and not about how others saw me.
    Cheers to the strong!
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Restaurant Week = Food ComaMy Profile

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