*Kylie was a part of a group interview with Jackie, each of them having an opportunity to share their story not only with all of us, but specifically with each other. Below you will find the full transcript. I encourage you to take the time to meet Jackie as well*

Kyira: “What made you specifically decide that you wanted to sign up and do this project?”

Jackie: “Um, I guess for me I’ve like seen you guys come in here and I’ve kind of asked myself what I thought of as beauty. And I realized that I have a very different answer from most people. Like I always thought I was pretty. I mean, there’s things I would work on, but for me I didn’t think of myself as beautiful until I worked on myself. Like I had a lot of things from the past that just made me angry, resentful, hateful. Um, there was a point where I questioned my own goodness. And that was really hard. So I had to work on that and after I – I’ve worked on myself for so long. I mean, I didn’t have friends in high school just because everyone thought I was mean. I would try to push people away and when you do that, they go away. Um, so I just worked through things, thought through things and I feel like I’m at a point where I try to treat people well. I’m still really sarcastic, some people take that badly. But, you know, that’s just about, that’s just who I am.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jackie: “I’m just sarcastic. I say comments jokingly. If anyone has a problem, I hope that they say something about it. But, um, yeah so for me it was not really about like accepting myself physically, it was more about accepting myself mentally.”

Kyira: “Yeah. Yeah, that sounds like a really long journey to have gone through. And to be able to say they you’ve been working on it for so long. I think a lot of people do what they can to avoid that or it becomes overwhelming and can’t continue. So that say a lot.”

Jackie: “Yeah. I’ve always, um, kind of been psychologically minded. I just like, when you think about everything that hurts, it hurts a lot more, you know. And you just have to push through that, otherwise you’ll never heal. So I study psychology and I think one day I might want to be a therapist cuz I just – that’s what therapists do, they’re just there while you’re going through this, while you’re pushing through. And I think that everyone could benefit from that.”

Kyira: “Yeah, absolutely.

Kylie: “I completely agree with the, um, not necessarily about it being like a physical acceptance, more of a mental thing. Because like the way somebody would see me if they didn’t know me or the way that I interact with people wouldn’t necessarily come across as like insecure or like having issues with myself, you know. And so, it’s more of the fact that, um, there’s thoughts and feelings and things you have to get past in order to actually be a confident person. And so it was mostly about working on actually being a confident person instead of just portraying yourself as a confident person. So, um, this isn’t something that would normally just be like something I would do. And Crystal doing this kind of inspired me to think about it. And, um, I ultimately decided to do it so… “

Kyira: “Yeah. It’s that piece that like it’s a really fine line between when are you ‘being’ versus when are you ‘performing.’ And how can you take that down?”

Kylie: “Yeah.”

Kyira: “So where do you think, for both of you, where did you get messages that kind of shaped some of those pieces of yourself or that, like, rattled your ability to feel confident?”

Jackie: “I was always kind of an outcast. My preschool report card said I was really bright but I had to learn to get along with my peers. I mean, um, in first grade I remember kids telling me to go away, I was weird and annoying. You know, I’ve always been weird. I am weird now, but the funny thing is that I’ve learned people love that. (Laughing.) Because they can tell I’m being genuine.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Jackie: “Um, but so I had those issues. And then my mom, well, she met a man and, uh, at first everything was fine. But he was abusive, alcoholic, drug addict. And, um, my mom herself had some issues. And I always felt like she was picking him …”

Kyira: “Over you …”

Jackie: “And I moved a lot, so I felt like everyone was picking everything else over me.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Jackie: “Um, so yeah, I just had to realize that it’s not about me. People have their own issues, everyone has their own issues. I just worked on my own, and I hoped that others around me worked on themselves. And I keep people around me who are actively trying to better themselves.”

Kyira: “Yeah. And what a, what a feeling to have had and to sort of be painted by other adults as like the ‘othered’ one.”

Jackie: “Yeah.”

Kyira: “You know, and then to feel that sort of ‘otheredness’ in a really personal setting, like in your home setting. And how, how chaotic that can feel inside, in where do I connect and fit and belong?”

Jackie: “Yeah. And I moved a lot. I went to like 10 different schools before I graduated high school, always making friends and losing them, never really had like a solid support system. So I kind of just did everything myself. And that was part of the issues I had to work on, I thought that strength was denying that you’re sad, denying that you needed help. So that’s where a lot of my growth has come from is being able to trust people.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Jackie: “And like being able to rely on them. And I’m at a point now where I have like a great support system, for the first time – and it’s really great so …”

Kyira: “Yeah, to know that you’re worth it, I think we all struggle with that. And believing that.”

Jackie: “Yeah.”

Kylie: “I think it’s amazing how much I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying on the first comment. And there, I have major trust issues as well. And I think a lot of that stems from just past relationships and then, um, when you know, maybe things don’t work out, comments from other people about you can really take over for a long time. And for a while, it was how I would see myself too. And the things they would say, it was other girls like saying things physically. And so that became more of a mental thing. And so it was really getting past that for me, um, with, you know, in terms of being insecure physically, that’s where a lot of things stem from for me was other people’s comments. And it just took realizing that, you know, they have their own insecurities and their own issues, that they’re trying to cut me down for whatever reason, like over some stupid boy that they like, I don’t know. So that was something that I struggled a lot with in high school and shortly after. And in the last five years, it’s been just like an uphill thing of, um, actually feeling confident in myself and not necessarily thinking like, ‘Oh, you know, I’m so pretty,’ or anything like that. But just like focusing on the important things like bettering yourself and always striving to be better. And so, um, I also agree with the comment you said about not necessarily like connecting with people right away. And so I have a really small circle that like I would say certain things to. So I feel like a lot of people only see me for, you know, this personality that I’m good at being. And it’s not like that’s not who I am, but they don’t know the deeper side of me, or like how I feel, you know.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm. So there’s that trusting piece of letting people in to see it. But then there’s also this, like, real vulnerability in letting people in to see how are they going to respond or are they going to pursue it? Because you don’t wanna not have that happen, either.”

Kylie: “Right.”

Jackie: “I just think once you learn to like yourself, it doesn’t really matter. Like you can go out without makeup, wearing scrubby clothes and still, you still feel beautiful.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jackie: “Cuz you are.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm. Yeah, I think it’s that, that whole, like, just – oh, I feel like I’m about to quote a Bruno Mars song! (Laughing.) But it’s totally true! (Laughing.) But it’s that idea of, like, there doesn’t have to be anything that you’ve done or like created or succeeded in to be able to claim that. It’s literally just the fact that you exist, you are entitled to say that about yourself. And I have yet to meet somebody that’s able to fully say that without doubt or pressure or whatever. Um, I mean it sounds like we’re all moving there, but everybody describes it as that uphill battle of like, damn, there just keeps being more boulders that’ll come that you have to push up that hill. What do you think has been the hardest maybe thing you’ve had to overcome or the hardest realization you’ve had to have to be able to continue moving in this direction and not be sort of swallowed in these other pressures?”

Kylie: “I think I just learned to, like, live in myself rather than preoccupying myself with like everyone around me. So it’s more just relying on myself and relying on what I have and what I can do, not expecting things from other people or expecting certain reactions or, you know, not expecting anything really.”

Kyira: “Yeah, for sure.”

Jackie: “For me, the greatest realization was, um, figuring out that what other people decide to do isn’t about you. It’s about their own issues. And they make a decision and then they might think about the other things.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Jackie: “I’ve had guys who have chosen an ex over me. And it, it’s hurtful. But you have to realize that it’s not about you. It’s not that they picked someone over you, it’s that they didn’t have finished business there. They picked that person, and the consequence was that they left you.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm. Yeah. No, that makes sense. Like this notion of, like we tend to have our lens connect, that everything always connects back to us in some negative way. So it reinforces those beliefs of being ‘less than’ or ‘unworthy’ or whatever the case may be. And if you can separate from that, you might still be a factor or have some of the, like, outcomes impact you in some way and it’s not the same direct thing as somebody trying to hurt you or wrong you just because that thing does impact you.”

Jackie: “And sometimes someone’s decision might be to intentionally hurt you. But a lot of times when that’s someone’s decision, it’s because they themselves are hurt. And you have to understand that, too. I’ve, um, just been a lot happier since I’ve realized this.”

Kyira: “Absolutely. So one thing’s kinda sticking with me before we move on. You mentioned in the past five years, was there kind of a moment when you’re thinking it’s been like suddenly this thing happened?”

Kylie: “No, um …”

Kyira: “Just kinda feels more like …”

Kylie: “It just kinda felt like that’s when I started trying to make changes for myself and everything else sort of followed. And even within the last year, I went through a lot of changes. I moved to Madison by myself, like I left a lot of things behind, because there were people who had things that they could only do for themselves. And it’s like I try so hard all the time to help other people that sometimes you just have to step back and realize, like, there’s nothing for you to do here. And, you know, I was thinking about this project leading up to this time and it’s like, you look back and you don’t realize that all of a sudden you are focusing on yourself all the time and like feeling this positivity. And you don’t know exactly when it happened, but, you know, it’s something that you’re working on every day. And like there’s some days where it just comes naturally and there’s some days where you have to just tell yourself that like, ‘It’s gonna work out!’ (Laughing.)”

Kyira: “Yeah, you have to put a little bit more effort into it. But over time I’m sure it’s gotten easier – for both of you, as you’ve described those shifts that you’ve made. So how, how have you or how do you plan to nurture that, like nurture those things that you’ve learned and that those moments of loving yourself and celebrating every decision you make that does allow you to put you first? Because if you, it’s like the oxygen mask thing, if you don’t put your mask on first, you can’t ever be that, you know. How do you wanna nurture and celebrate that?”

Kylie: “Well, like I said, some days it’s not something you have to think about. You wake up, you feel great, you go do what you have to do that day and it just comes really naturally. And other days you do have to encourage that for yourself. So it’s about always encouraging yourself so that you can celebrate yourself. But also allowing yourself to have your breakdowns and your meltdowns because that’s a part of continuing to nurture and celebrate yourself, too.”

Kyira: “For sure. I feel like we often miss that. But, like, it’s not rainbows and unicorn moving forward. And that’s not what we should strive for. It’s also about letting yourself feel what you feel. Absolutely.”

Jackie: “Yeah, um, I just try to move forward. I mean it’s, after making realizations after going through periods of growth, there’s just like this very euphoric feeling for a while. And then all of a sudden you, you start feeling negative things again. And you realize that there’s this other thing that you have to work on. So it’s just taking steps. Not a matter of how much you grow, not a matter how much you learn, like there’s always gonna be this next thing. And the funny thing is that in this moment you’re hopefully the best version of yourself that you’ve ever been. But in a year from now, you’re gonna look back at who you are now and you realize, ‘There was so much I didn’t know. There was so much I had to learn still.’ And the, no matter how much you learn, there’s always more.”

Kyira: “Yeah, and being open to that.”

Jackie: “Yeah.”

Kyira: “So if you two could think, you know, a future date when – maybe it’s the day you have to put more work in to telling yourself these things and pushing yourself – what’s one thing that you wanna say now so that you have it for yourself when you look back and read these interviews? How can you give yourself some strength in that moment?”

Kylie: “I found myself, while I was taking these photos, like feeling, feeling shy or feeling like I didn’t necessarily want to make eye contact with the camera, you know.”

Kyira: “Yeah, that’s right.”

Kylie: “So I think that when I get to see these photos or when I get to actually read this interview or when I look at it down the road, I’m gonna probably feel a lot differently than I felt now. So I think just being accepting of, you know, where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going to be is a way to just keep pushing forward and keep knowing that you might have these feelings and you might feel, like, shy and you might feel insecure. But you’re actually not. Because I’m not, you know. And I don’t necessarily portray myself that way. But I’m allowed to have these feelings even if they’re like questionable feelings.”

Kyira: “Yeah. Absolutely. And holding on to that for the day that you do see these, or the day that you come back to them or that you show them to somebody if you choose to – what that means to you.”

Jackie: “Yeah, I think, um, one of the most important things to, like, to keep in mind is that even the most confident people have things they want to work on. And if you have nothing that you want to work on, then like what are you doing? You’re just existing.”

Kyira: “Right.”

Jackie: “So having insecurities is OK.”

Kyira: “Yeah. And probably in those moments when they show up, that’s not always easy to remember. And so saying that in those moments is helpful.”