My name is Austin and this is my blog.
Most people who write “About Me” pages focus on how awesome they are… yeah, I’m not going to do that.
While I’m super proud of these accomplishments... I'm so much more than just a list of my successes.
I’m also my failures and my insecurities and they make up a good chunk of who I really am.
Prior to starting this blog, I wasn’t the kind of person to open up and share my personal life. Especially not my struggles.
But I want you to know the real me.
This is my story.
This is who I really am.
The truth is that I have never felt like I belonged.
There are days where I feel like an imposter in my own life.
As far back as I can remember I’ve always been different.
Being “different” as a kid is difficult because to other kids, “different” is weird and wrong.
My earliest memory of not belonging might seem trivial, but it was the first definitive moment where I realized that I was a little different than the people around me.
My family moved from our humble acreage in the countryside to the big city of Calgary, AB, Canada.
It was the start of Grade 4 and I was the new kid, in a school full of unfamiliar faces.
Even under those circumstances, I was excited. Maybe it was because I had always liked school - I was good at it and it always felt like a safe place.
The bell rang, class started, and I remember being seated in the middle row at the back of the classroom.
My teacher, who I hadn't even been introduced to yet, immediately started passing out hardcover books to each student without explanation.
At this point, I didn’t know what they were or why we were receiving them… So I asked in front of the entire class.
My teacher replied with something that would stay with me for the rest of my life, “Are you stupid? These are textbooks”.
I was shattered.
Obviously they were textbooks. How could I be so stupid?
As the class erupted in laughter, I remember feeling so alone.
And so confused.
Weren’t you supposed to ask questions in school?
Was city school somehow different from country school?
What if everything I learned at my old school was wrong?
What if I was never actually good at school?
I felt like an imposter.
From that point on school felt different. It wasn’t the same safe space that it used to be. So I treaded lightly, stayed quiet, and never spoke up.
After that, the unshakable feeling of not belonging never really went away.
High School was no different.
I didn't want anyone to figure out that I didn't belong, so I got really good at hiding the real me from everyone.
But I couldn’t hide from myself.
In Grade 10 I started having feelings for guys.
I was terrified.
I told myself it was a phase, and if I prayed hard enough, it would go away.
I felt ashamed, scared and alone.
For the next 5 years I kept this secret to myself.
It was exhausting lying to myself and the people around me.
I spent so much energy pretending to be someone that I wasn’t that I had nothing left for school, friends or family.
As a result, in my second year of engineering my grades plummeted.
I was on the verge of getting kicked out of university and I was put on strict academic probation.
I was too embarrassed to tell anyone about it and I felt like such a failure.
I was always so good at school and that’s what I was known for. It was the last authentic piece of myself I had left… and now I didn’t even have that anymore.
Who was I if I didn’t have school?
Once again, my imposter syndrome came rushing back
At this point, I was at a crossroads in my life.
It was time to make a decision that would shape everything going forward.
I could choose to continue living life as I had been - feeling like an imposter and wasting my energy on impressing others.
I could choose to spend my energy living a life that is authentic and true to myself.
I think it’s obvious which one I chose.
Fast forward to today where I’ve built an amazing life being uniquely me.
Every struggle led me to this point, and while it was difficult, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
I finally feel like I belong.
If you made it this far, I appreciate the time you took to read this.
I deeply value every relationship I make from this blog.
I hope that me opening up to you, gives you a better idea of who I really am.
I want you to know that I am here for you as a mentor and as a friend.
I try to respond to every email and want to hear your story – both the good and the bad.
I want to provide a safe community where anyone struggling with their identity can open up, provide encouragement, and support one another.
I want you to feel safe to show who you really are.
Because the real you is amazing.
Thank you for reading.
I hope that the story of your life brings you peace, freedom, and happiness.
XoXo Austin Please