Grace Valentine has had enough. The dynamic young author is tired of culture continually demanding young women judge themselves and each other against endless, impossible standards. The same standards that caused her to consider taking her own life in middle school.
“That’s a day I looked back on watching my book come to life. Sometimes I don’t like to admit the fact that people said mean things, and that I wasn’t the cool kid. That I was picked on. That’s hard for me to admit, but my past is such a testimony to the Lord’s strength.”
“I think it’s so easy to want to forget those moments that so much created who we are today, but that’s the most beautiful part of it.”
That experience still shapes her, but not in the way we might expect.
“It still creates my struggles. Because I was bullied in middle school, I still as a twenty two year old care what people think about me. Because at one point people didn’t think nice things about me. And they didn’t say nice things about me.”
“But at the same time, I can also rejoice in the fact that the Lord used the same girl who was in the car contemplating taking her own life – who just felt so picked on – to be able to remind women that we are enough. And it does not matter what those people say.”
Grace’s story took a turn from middle school to her high school experience. She entered the popular crowd, became class president, and was named to the homecoming court. But finding validation in her peers wasn’t what she’d hoped.
“I was the weird girl, and then I decided, ‘Okay. I can’t control the way my face looks, so I will control my weight.’ So I worked out so much, and puberty happens. And I was so obsessed with my weight. I dyed my hair. I did everything I could to please other people. Slowly people started noticing.”
“Then it became more of a control thing – all the popularity I had now. I thought, ‘The only reason I became popular is because I became skinny. So how much skinnier can I get?’ I wanted guys to like me, and I felt they would only like me if I appeared pretty. So that became my whole control thing. So I went from the bullied outcast to then the girl who was perceived as popular but really struggled with self worth and had an eating disorder.”
She explains what that time looked like for her.
“I spent my nights counting calories at the gym and throwing up too. It got to the point when I was like, ‘That’s it. I know this is not good. I know what I’m not doing is not good for me.'”
I had to wake up and say, ‘I’m worth so much more than either of these roles I’ve been playing, and running away from the Lord.’ In both of those ways – in those insecurities I dealt with – I was not dancing with God. I was not following his lead.”
Grace Valentine is a prodigious blogger, a recent college grad, and an advocate for discovering our true worth. She’s penned the new book from the W Publishing Group.On the Road with Grace Valentine