Wednesday, June 30, 2010


If someone offered me $10,000,000 to go back to the eighth grade, I would have to decline without a moments hesitation, "no thank you, you can hang on to your money". Ten million dollars is a whole bunch of money, a lot of zeros... still... wouldn't be worth it. Thankfully there has been no such offer made, nor is there the technology to go back in time... yet. May I express my sincere relief that I only had to experience jr. high once. My interpretation of Hell would be 8th grade... or the LAX airport. You may be thinking "Now Brooke isn't that a bit dramatic?"... of course it is. Please don't take me seriously there, I am well aware that there are infinitely more tragic things happening in the world then having to sit on the bus alone... or having to stand in the security line that stretches beyond miles. All dramatics aside, it was a traumatic time of life, as it is for most thirteen year olds. Nonetheless, I think it was good for me, necessary even, needful for character... at least that is the way I've decided to embrace all the crappier stuff that has taken place in life... my wise mom texted me this great quote recently that sums it up quite nicely:

"Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience" -Elenor Hibbert

I moved to from Phoenix to Mesa when I was nine. It's roughly a thirty minute ride down the Superstition freeway from one place to the other, and yet they felt like two different worlds. I would describe Mesa as your typical suburban society... by that I mean that almost every one owns and drives a suburban (a generalization), except for my family, we are "Ford" people, my dad always said "we don't do drugs and we don't drive Chevy's". But then again... we always were a little different, and as I look back now, I am really okay with that. Mesa is the kind of place that people don't really leave, they stake their claim and that is where they stay, and their children stay, and their children's children stay... we're talking generations upon generations and beyond, all close together, all the time. This is all because of a culture deeply rooted in the family unit. I have to admit, as much as I love living life on the west coast, I truly miss my family, I miss sunday dinners at my grandmas house and sometimes it hits me that I'm not there to see my little brother Quinn grow up, he gets his permit this year... unbelievable.

Anywho, where was I...

We were still unpacking boxes when we heard the knock at the door, it was a man with two little girls that looked to be about my age, "Hi, we live down the street and we just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood, these are my daughters Golda and Kinsey, they were wondering if you wanted to play". Kinsey was a year older then me, but Golda was my age, my height and in the same grade. We instantly became best friends. After school I would do my homework, Golda would do her chores, watch Power Rangers and then we would go on bike rides around the neighborhood, purposefully taking the route that would pass by Michael S's house, the cutest boy at school that I would go on to have a silent and yet serious crush on from the 4th to the 8th grade. Golda would ride in front of me to check to make sure he wasn't outside while I waited behind a car, I spent those awkward years trying to avoid him like the plague, in fear that he would find out that I liked him. Kinda sounds stalker-ish now as I am telling the story, but gimme a break, I was ten. We were rather boy crazy. Sometimes we'd scrape all the change together that we could find and ride down to Basha's to buy Tiger Beat Magazine so that we could tear out pictures and posters of Elijah Wood and Jonathan Taylor Thomas, we also wrote letters to their fan clubs. I remember we'd check the mailbox faithfully everyday, finally we had received letters, only to find they were original letters stamped "returned to sender"... our little tween hearts were broken in two. Speaking of hearts, we also had those "best friend" charm necklaces that you would buy at Claire's Boutique... remember those?

We had my boom box that we took everywhere, during the summer we would go swimming in our friends pool, and listen to the radio and wait for our favorite songs so that we could record them on our mix tapes. We never had a song in it's entirety, we would always miss the intro as we would scurry out of the water and over to the boom box to hit the record button, sometimes recording over other songs on accident. We loved Boyz II men, SWV, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, The Cranberries and Ace of Base. Golda loved music like I did. I also convinced her that like me, she needed to be an Animator for Disney when she grew up, I taught her how to draw mickey mouse and other characters. I remember it was the last day of the sixth grade and also my birthday, I had gotten a Mickey Mouse watch that played "It's a small world after all" she told me that she had something to tell me, she then broke it to me that working for Disney was my dream and not hers, I was sad, but appreciated her honesty.

Over our childhood years we started a very unsuccessful lawn mowing business, a long story that is worthy of it's own blog post. We created and held meetings for "Krafty Kids" in the 3ft X 5ft pantry in my house... and thats Krafty with a "K", we had sleepovers where we toilet papered the neighbors houses, I always felt guilty around 5am and would wake her up to tell her that we needed to go clean it up before they woke up, we did. She was also the first person brave enough to let me come near her head with a pair of scissors, I gave her a horrendous haircut, she pretended to like it, her mother wasn't pleased. I had also decided to give my little sister Katie a haircut while my mom was in the hospital in labor, when she returned home with a new baby from the hospital , she too was not pleased. I never stopped cutting hair...

Neither of us seemed to fit in with the cool girls at school and church. In my eyes, they alway had perfectly french braided hair with poofy bangs and matching bows and never appeared to wear the same outfit more then twice. We were always a bit disheveled in our usual black leggings and oversized flannel shirts, Golda with her terrible short haircut that I gave her and me with my dorky glasses . They all sat at the same lunch table and ate their fancy "lunchables" and stuck together on the play ground. They all happened to be in the same class year after year, they had birthday parties and played together after school. We'd swing on the swings watching from afar, wishing we could be one of them, but we were on the outside looking in. There were many times we felt left out, wanting to belong, to be popular, but at least we had each other... and over time we accumulated a few other good friends that also struggled to find their way into the "clique"...

Elementary school was over. I was unbelievably nervous, we had our student orientation and got our student I.D. cards, and new P.E. uniforms. I remember taking a tour of the school and knowing for certain that I was bound to be lost to wander the crowded winding hallways of the maze that was Jr. High. I remember riding the bus for the first time, then walking through those halls, everyone appeared to be so tall... much taller than me at 4 foot 7 inches (I didn't grow till 9th grade). There were so many new and unfamiliar faces, I even recall seeing a few kids with mustaches. Golda and I compared schedules, we hardly had any of the same classes together, and with only five minutes in between classes we rarely saw each other... however we did have the same lunch period along with a few of our friends. I admit I was slow to make new friends and I clung to the familiar. There were however a few popular boys from the ninth grade that would come and sit with us "7th graders"... they were cute and also happened to be on the football team. They always asked us ridiculous questions and laughed at our honest and naiive answers. We could never understand why they wanted to sit with us, we were way beneath them on the social totem poll, definitely going through the "awkward" stage... I was intimidated by them, but sort of felt like we might be cool if they were sitting with us.

Seventh year came and went like a blur, I survived and expected that things could only get better... but they only got worse. A lot of things changed over the summer... A close friend of ours started to wear make-up, and was hanging out with a new group, the boys came back to school with lower voices, and then just two weeks into the eighth grade Golda's family had sold their house and decided to move to a new neighborhood which meant that she would be attending a different school. I was devastated, who would I sit next to on the bus, who would i ride bikes with after school. I started anticipating the worst... maybe she would find a new best friend at her new school. She assured me that we would still hang out after school and on the weekends and we did, for the first little while... and though it was no ones fault, everything was changing... change was inevitable, and change is hard.

The rest of that semester was rough... I was unsure of where I belonged, what I was good at, who my friends were, what I believed in... or if I really believed in anything. The insecurities of being a teenager started to take a firm grip over me, feeling overly self-conscious about my personality... and my appearance... While it appeared that everyone around me was getting prettier all I could focus on was my glasses and my overbite, I started to smile without showing my teeth. Each day was filled with anxiety as I would walk into the cafeteria for lunch scanning the tables for a familiar face, or a "hey do you want to sit with us?" or trying to find the courage to ask if I could join the table where the those same "cool" girls would sit, but I was paralyzed with my own lack of confidence, to no avail, embarrassed to be seen alone I would end up hiding in the bathroom, or roaming the campus, until the bell would ring. The bus ride home was a similar scenario. One day on the ride home, I overheard the one of the girls talking about a birthday party and who was going to be there, she was a particular girl who would acknowledge me when we were in class but never in a group. I wanted to yell out "please invite me... please". But the invite never came.

That night I laid in bed, the pain of loneliness enveloping me completely, I finally broke down and sobbed a deep sad cry, the kind of cry that exhausts your whole body. In that moment I decided to pray. With an attitude of skepticism, I was upset, I asked God if he was there, if he knew who I was, I told him that I was lonely, that I needed a friend... please... i expected nothing.

softly the answer came "I am here" and that was all. And that changed everything... cause it changed me.

The world kept turning and eighth grade continued. Super long story longer, I ended up changing schools to a small little charter school where we were required to wear boring uniforms that I loved. It was a fresh start. It was exactly the place I needed to be. It was the place that I made friends that encouraged me to make good choices. It was the place where I discovered my voice and explored my talents. Oh and I grew a few inches taller, got braces, contacts and high lights and yeah sure, life changed a little, but I was still me. I still experienced heartache and encountered some real rough patches along the way. That never goes away...

The experience of loneliness however, might have been one of the most valuable I've had. The memory of being a lost little 8th grader searching for a place to sit at the lunch table has provided me with a real sense of empathy for others... look around, there are a lot of lonely people out there that need a friend, to this day I will see people, and I can just sense it, there is a sadness in their faces, and it is almost unbearable to me. And then there have been times where perhaps I had forgotten that experience as I had become comfortable within a group of friends, or overwhelmed with busyness to take time to reach out to an old friend that is struggling. Becoming familiar with the other side of the table has helped me to realize that it may be an innocent mistake to not look outside of our own circles and busy lives... interestingly, that experience helped to soften my heart towards those I felt didn't reach out their hand to me.

But it was the experience of loneliness that gave me the opportunity to know that no matter how lonely and hard times may get, I'm never really... alone. And knowing that changes everything...

This one is really long, I have been typing and typing for hours and it's 2:34 am and I need to sleep... but I've been feeling the impression to share this story for the last few days now, I don't know why. I hope it wasn't too much of a downer, it is honest and real but with a message of hope, I hope you got that. If you happen to be reading this and you're struggling, my heart goes out to you...

PSS- Golda is still one of my best friends...

PSSS- I just realized today was the last day of June...


  1. touching, and beautifully honest blog, brooke! please keep writing these as you have time.

  2. You're wonderful, Brooke, and I loved this blog. Yay for the last day of June! :)

  3. Hey Brooke... I love reading your blogs. Youhave lots of great stories to tell. I have been wanting to send you some pics that Im sure you will remember... Let me know How I can do that,,,


    Micia ( fromicia )

  4. What a fabulous ending to your challenge. I really appreciate this story--thanks for sharing. :)

    I'm sure that for the next several days, you'll find yourself thinking "Oh crap, I have to write a blog post tonight, oh wait..." Or even better, you'll experience something and think "I could post this on the blog, oh wait, I don't HAVE to anymore!" (But you could still post it anyway! I'm sure we'll still read it!)

  5. I love your blog Miss Brooke.
    You're the best.

  6. Brooke, this seriously brought tears to my eyes. That has pretty much been the story of my life for the past year. I too was the girl who was different, shunned by the girls who think they're popular, constantly heartbroken, left behind, left out, and my neighborhood best friend moved away too. But reading this gave me so much hope and brought a smile to my face. Thank you for blessing us with your writing and your music. It makes me happy and gives me hope on a level I can't even describe. Thank you a ton...
    -MLEwritergirl <3 :)

  7. I look up to you so much, Brooke. You're real. You can speak for the present (and former) lonely, awkward girls of the world, and we identify with the experiences (both good and bad) that you've faced. It's encouraging to see how you've prevailed from those challenges to become someone we can model our own outlooks and decisions after - a role model.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It's a great lesson on the importance of fellowship. It's eye-opening to realize that we all go through bouts of loneliness. It's a common storm we share. We just took the initiative to reach out to others, even if it's just by saying a simple 'hello', it can make all the difference in brightening up their days. You may even make a new friend in the process! :)

    P.S. It's wonderful how you and Golda still remain close friends to this day. She's a keeper. :)

  8. Thanks for the open and honest post. It's easy to forget sometimes what it was like for each of us, growing up and learning to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of social confusion that is school. Now that I'm older, I can see my children trying to navigate the same turbulent waters - and it breaks my heart sometimes. Thank you for reminding me that we all face our own challenges, but we are never truly alone.

  9. I really loved this post. I've been reading for awhile and not commenting, but you really are an awesome person. I love how genuine you are, you are yourself and you don't try to change for the crowd. I was at the concert you did at BYU-Idaho a few months ago and you were awesome!!!

  10. This is a great story, Brooke - real, honest, and heartwarming. I remember that awkward pre-teen girl phase, too, and how hard it was to change schools and friends as the years went by. But all of our experiences make up who we are and I know I wouldn't be enjoying myself half as much today if I hadn't gone through them!

    I've really enjoyed reading your posts this last month. Please keep blogging!


  11. Oh my gosh Brook, that brought back memories. How sweet of you to share.

  12. Brooke, I've recently started reading your blog and just adore it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I have a teenage daughter who is going through some of these issues. She's trying to figure out who she is, where she belongs, and where she wants to go. It is heartbreaking to watch and know that she has to go through this journey of self discovery. I wonder everyday if I am giving her the skills and encouragement she needs to come out the other side stronger. I pray and hope so.

    Thanks for being such a wonderful example.

  13. you so perfectly captured what i think a lot of kids feel. i know i did! junior high is the worst.
    thanks for sharing so much!

  14. you write so beautifully. you are so talented. i wish i could go back to 7 & 8th grade and make things better. i wasn't one to speak up, or help... i stayed behind the spotlight. i'm glad you shared this story. thank you

    & i guess heritage was pretty good for a lot of kids. mike, hunter, a long list of people...

  15. Wow!!! It's like we're the same person - the parallels are incredible! SO many things you mentioned are what I went through too -- the loneliness, shyness, learned empathy, sensitivity, the dream to be a Disney animator (AND teaching others to draw Mickey Mouse...which I still do to this day!), the secret desire to be in the "in-crowd" and the silent hope to get the invites that never come...the tears, asking God to help find you someone....

    Thank you for writing this and for showing me I'm not alone. I'm approaching 30 and still haven't fully gotten past the shyness / loneliness elements in my life. But music, art, writing and teaching have helped me get through.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  16. Don't you just love Heritage? I learned so much from that school. I loved how everyone would stick together no matter what crowd you were in, how it was so not cool to make fun of others. Meeting you in High School I never once thought you were EVER in the unpopular group. You were one of the sweetest and prettiest girls....and still are:)

  17. That story was amazing. You're my hero, Brooke. I would have sat with you at lunch and have been your friend. You're always so nice to everyone and just are a wonderful person.

    I absoultely love reading your blogs. It's honestly something I really look forward to each day! I hope you continue to write even though it's July now! :)

    <3 your biggest fan,
    Jessie (jessanicole on twitter!) :D

  18. Thanks for sharing that story! It was nice to read. I have a picture that goes back from EFY days, of you, Katie, Shrilene & I. Good times! Maybe someday i'll get you a copy. I am so happy for you and the life that you have created for yourself!

  19. Brooke, being male, considered being nice looking and a very good all around athlete (varsity level) from grade school thru High school I have a whole other prospective on school life and individual challenges. That is another story. But your story and writing were excellent and I hope we get to hear more. :)

  20. Thanks for sharing this sweet and personal story Brooke. I printed out a copy to share with my 16 year old niece who is having some similar struggles right now in school.

    I remember all of these feelings so well from my own teenage years, especially the heartbreak of having my best friend move away and wondering who I was gong to hang out with at lunch. Music was my salvation during that time and still is to this day.

    Love having you as part of my music collection today - thanks for being an inspiration! :)

  21. You rock. Knowing that the Lord is with you is very necessary to learn. I wish I had learned it sooner, but I didn't until now. And I'm 31. Loneliness still happens, but it really helps to know He's with me. Thanks for an uplifting post. I know it went over a lot of sad stuff, but in a way it was encouraging to know someone I think is rad and super cool went through the same sort of stuff I went through.

  22. Thanks for sharing, Brooke. I'm glad you're still BFFs with Golda. She is definitely a keeper! Love the part about the toilet paper. That is totally me, I always feel guilty after I've done something that I shouldn't.

  23. Mesa sounds a lot like Bakersfield, where I grew up, left and eventually returned. A place you just stake your claim in and never leave. I was a quiet kid in school and have become a quiet adult. Interestingly enough though, I wouldn't have it any other way. I treasure my solitude. My inner self. It's not so bad. My small core of friends are important to me but not as much as a mellow afternoon after work, sitting at Starbucks, reading a book and listening to music on my iPod (quite often, your music which I love!). Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Take care :-)

  24. You should write a song about the girl who walked the halls of her school alone just waiting for the bell to ring. The experience of longing to belong is familar to many people and it is a song that is waiting for your god given talent. You have wonderfully told the write that song will move many.

  25. What a lovely post. :) And what a cute kiddo you were! We never know how adorable we are at the time until we look back later, eh? I had MUCH of that same type of shy little girl in me for many years in school. I wouldn't go back for anything. Blech. :P I was so insecure, always thought I was fat, hated my hair, didn't always know what to say to people, and especially HATED lunchtime if one of my friends wasn't there. I agree; I think middle school was invented for the sheer purpose of keeping us all humble and compassionate!! lol

    One of the reasons my best friend and I started our project known as "the closet narcissist" is to promote self-confidence in women and girls. :) Particularly for anyone who's struggling with that right now, we hope you'll have a look-see. (But we also talk about makeup and all kinds of girly stuff, so it's fun as well.) I also wrote a story on our web site called "Narcissa" that details out in a fairytale version all the things I was made fun of for and my journey of overcoming it. ~the place where self-love is celebrated!~

    BTW, Brooke, thanks for introducing me to the ShakeIt app!! It's my new addiction!! :)

  26. hey Brooke,
    Yay! thanks so much for that blog. I really really really enjoyed reading it. I find that it's always helpful to really remember where we come from - in terms of our humble, not so glamorious beginings. It's NUTS really, the differences of our past identities and our present ones, quite shocking (even to ourSELVES).
    You've really provided me with a lot of food for thought in general with this post, and also I so much appreciate you sharing a bit of the "less glamorous" with us. I'm so grateful you did.
    Thank you Brooke.
    -Ronit (pronounced Row-neet)

  27. Brooke...I think a lot of peeps could relate to your story. Especially us that weren't a part of the in crowd. I think as one grows into to life, they can also grow into someone that they themselves can be happy with. So, therefore what others may think of us, good or bad doesn't really impact us.

  28. Thank you so much for sharing that! People can talk about the best moments in their life, the most surprising, or the most heart warming. But what you don't hear people talk about it the bad experiences. You don't hear celebrities saying 'yes, I have been different. But I learned to embrace it.'. It takes someone special to share their deepest thoughts and memories, especially if they are not really pleasant. So, thanks.
    Ps please keep posting!!

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  30. Insightful and inspiring words. Bravo.
    PS I can so relate to this. Up until college I was definitely NOT one of the coolest people in school and going through that rough patch allowed me to see the world from the other side of the table. Now, after gaining acceptance and confidence, I can still empathize with those who are still struggling socially because of what I went through in the past. I am a better person because of those hard times.

  31. Inspiring story, brooke! I was also a loner in middle school, and a target of verbal abuse. I have found friends now, but I still struggle to develop closer, deeper relationships. But like you, I am encouraged by God's unfailing presence with me. You bring up a good point, I shouldn't forget the pain of being a loner on the schoolgrounds, and reach out to those who are lonely.

  32. You have inspired me to blog more often! Reading your posts have brought back so many memories of my wonder years. And now I have all those Ace of Base songs in my head... I had the whole cassette memorized ;)

  33. NO ONE should ever have to go through that... It is so sad that people decide to be mean to someone just because they are different. I moved almost a year ago, and when I moved, I didn't hang out with the popular girls. I made friends with the girls who had none. Sure, I also made a lot of friends who did have friends, but it felt good knowing that I gave those other girls a friend. And there was nothing wrong with them! I have made great friends out of them. The other girls just didn't like them because they thought they were different. It blew my mind that there were acctually people mean enough to do that. (And one of those girls, I got her to stop, and she is now my friend)
    But... I am sorry you had to go through that.

  34. This was so beautiful. Really. Being a Mesa girl, I know allll about the Mesa scene! I feel like we've all been victim to it at one time or another. For me, it was my Junior year and Senior semester (I graduated early, kind of because of it, kind of not because of it). But everything you've said is so true. I needed that time to really feel, for lack of a better way of putting it. Thanks for this little reminder to reach out today!

  35. I knew the moment I heard you sing, Carol King I would heart you forever. I rooted for you (Still do) and reading this has brought tears... You are remarkable and so talented... Thank you for sharing and being who you are! :)

  36. Gosh Brooke, i've read every single blog post and i always come back to this one. It's my favorite. This is 2 years old and i read it every once in a while, just whenever i need to feel inspired. It took me until junior year of high school to really feel like i had some amazing friends and i can empathize with so much that you went through. God gave me strength when i really needed it and that's my favorite part of the story. This post, more than any of the others, connects with me and i just want you to know that. THANK YOU for your honesty and vulnerability.