Growing up, Joanna Gaines didn’t look like the other children in her classroom.
“My mom is full Korean and my dad is Caucasian. Kids in kindergarten would make fun of me for being Asian and when you’re that age, you don’t really know how to process that,” she told Darling magazine earlier this month. “The way you take that is, ‘Who I am isn’t good enough.’”
Those feelings followed the Fixer Upper star to high school in Texas. “My parents told me, ‘Walk in. You’ll make friends like you always do,’ and I just remember walking in and . . . I just did not know what to do with myself,” Gaines, 37, revealed. “In the lunchroom everyone was a blur and I just walked in thinking, ‘How do people do this? How do you find that one person to sit with?”
Gaines ended up hiding in the bathroom. “My fear and my insecurities just took over and I felt like I’d rather sit in the stall than get rejected,” she explained.
The designer, who is married to her HGTV costar Chip Gaines, uses the story as a teachable moment with their kids Drake, Ella, 11, Duke, 9, and Emmie Kay, 7.
“I always tell my kids to look for that kid on the playground who’s not playing with anybody, to reach out, ask them their name, to look for the kid in the lunchroom who isn’t sitting by anybody, be their friend,” Joanna said. “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.”
That’s the HGTV personality, who is expecting her fifth child, says she is “grateful” for the pain and loneliness she experienced in high school.
“It’s in those hidden places of the past where there are treasures and gifts we need to share with others,” she mused. “Our stories are powerful and in those raw and dark places there is light . . . and that light needs to shine.”
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