**This is the 3rd installment in my collaboration project. Patty Ganzelli, who studies English and Creative Writing at the University of North Florida is featured this week. Patty and I were introduced online by a mutual friend here in Jacksonville, but we have yet to meet in person. That will happen this Saturday, though! We also share a love for Spanish, Spain and writing and sharing our stories from our different points of view. She tells stories through words AND pictures so I hope this young woman’s very creative story will put a big smile on your face!**
Chchchchanges by Patty Ganzelli
Five years. Five. Years.
Five years ago, I was a senior at Bartram Trail High School. I was sixteen going on seventeen, and I knew that I was naïve.
I know saying things have changed in cliché and obvious. Of course things are going to change, especially over the course of half a decade! But it’s the way things change that’s the crazy part. I mean, to think how much one’s personality can be altered by time and tiny circumstances. It’s insane. You can only hope for things have changed for the better.
So this is my story. How tiny events gave way to massive changes in me that I never thought possible.
Let me put this in perspective for you.
When I was in high school, I absolutely loathed public speaking. Actually, not even public speaking. Just speaking in general to anyone that wasn’t in my immediate group of friends. I was terrified.
The year: 2007. The place: BTHS hallway. The transformation: Finding my voice.
Flash forward: Me now.
Next scenario: Sitting next to a stranger.
Finding my voice was a difficult thing. Funny part is, people who know me can tell you this crippling shyness was only in a public setting. You have no idea how many times I’ve been yelled at for talking too loud while around friends or family. I found it very difficult to shut up (and still do).
With the exception of being around others.
I had often daydreamed about getting up in front of a crowd and delivering a flawless speech at the Oscars for my umpteenth Academy Award for Best Picture, unencumbered by stuttering or nausea, triggering heartfelt emotions in everyone in the audience with such fervor that they applaud me and throw roses at my face and offer me another Academy Award for ‘Most Awesome Thank You Speech.’ But dreams can only take you so far – especially when even saying “hello” to a stranger gives you an anxiety attack.
Finally, all this did change.
Thank the Lord for He is good!
I did not think this would be possible, but I actually can pinpoint the exact reason for my transformation. It began with getting my first-ever real job at “Random Department Store, Inc.”
I got this job when I was nineteen years old and I am so grateful for it. Being a cashier at a store whose tagline is “Smile and Say Hi,” you are consistently required to make small talk with strangers. When I first started, I was, well, not the best at it.
Thankfully, practice makes perfect.
But this habitual act of speaking and holding conversations with hundreds of strangers each week began to boost my confidence. I found myself initiating conversations with people in my classes, acting like myself in a public setting, not trying to hide who I am anymore.
Not only was I painfully shy when I was younger, I also had the lowest self-esteem I think the world, nay, the universe has ever seen. This low self-esteem I believe is what triggered my shyness.
Believe it or not, when I was really little (like four years old), I would go up to random people and give them hugs. Because I was adorable. And then middle school happened.
Kids are cruel. There’s no denying it. And teasing and seeing portrayals of what “pretty” is supposed to be in the media did not help my case.
I did not think I fit the bill for anything considered “pretty.” For the longest time, I hated my appearance. I hated everything about it, from my dumb ponytail to my skin to my weight. I shuddered at the mirror, thinking I was no better looking than Quasimodo.
My senior portrait.
In all seriousness, working at the department store talking to people did indeed boost my confidence in speaking, but confidence in speaking led to a confidence in my appearance because I finally had a reason to take pride in myself. Years of awkward high school shyness and limited knowledge of makeup and look at me now!
In senior year, I thought I had made it big because I was able to go with my friends on a week-long trip to D.C. on a train unsupervised and not get too homesick. But this past summer I studied abroad in Santander, Spain for five weeks! With limited means of contacting my parents! The Patty of 2007 would never have even thought in her wildest dreams that she would ever do that. She didn’t have the guts.
But you know what? I did.
By golly, I did.
If you had told 2007 Patty that in five years’ time she would have lived with a host family in Spain, written a musical, made a few movies with her friends, acted in a lead role in a play, had written a play that had actually gotten produced onstage and actually DID make people cry, and had started a side-business decorating wedding cakes. . .
She would have slapped you upside the head and said in her best Cher from Moonstruck voice, “SNAP OUT OF IT!”
But I can’t snap out of it. This is my life. And it’s crazy how much things have changed. How I’ve changed. I can’t believe the opportunities I’ve had, the people I’ve been privileged to know and who have helped me become a better version of myself. And I just want to say. . .
Looking forward to the what the next five years hold!
~**If you enjoyed Patty’s blogging style and would like to see more of it, visit and follow her blog here:
Midnight Porkchop by Patty. Also, please leave some feedback about this post here in a comment if you enjoyed it!**~