I was the fat girl. Being “the fat and ugly girl” growing up caused me to overcompensate in every other
area of life, as if I needed to make up for hating my body. All of those insecurities of being the fat kid still lie deep
within me. But, I can deal now. I have perspective. I no longer feel like I am struggling to belong because of my
appearance. My insecurities now lie in good old fashioned social awkwardness — the longing to belong.
Have you seen that video of the baby elephant chasing birds, desperately trying to make friends with them,
and constantly being denied because a giant elephant-shaped thing is chasing around tiny, delicate bird-shaped
things? That is how I felt growing up — chasing after everyone, desperately trying to make a connection.
Growing up being an only child with divorced parents amongst a bunch of other kids who had intact families
wasn’t exactly easy.

So, I overcompensated. Bury the pain and loneliness deep where no one can see, under all of the layers of
overcompensation that, eventually, turned me into this onion that I am today. My oniony layers manifest in
every aspect of life — relationships, friendships, family, work. They all get a layer of me. I have gotten to the
point where I give so selflessly in fits of overcompensation that I literally expect nothing in return. And, most of
the time, there is no reciprocity to my generosity. I find myself emptying out. I have a void that I need to fill.
And yet, inexplicably, I find that I have more to give.

Then, one day, one of the first friends I made when I moved to Ventura almost 20 years ago had an idea.
That idea has evolved into The Girls Girl Club. What if there was a group to which I could belong that could help me
focus all of that energy into something that can benefit the women and “awkward elephants” of our community,
and I could feel whole? That was the feeling I had when I went to my first Girls Girl Club event. That is the feeling
that drives me — that feeling that I belong, and that other people need what I have to offer. All of my seemingly
endless energy can actually be used for doing something good. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m
part of something that matters. I feel like I have arrived. I feel like I belong.