Service Array:
Individual Skill Development and Enhancement

I was born and raised in a small town in Central Wisconsin. I grew up in a loving home, with both parents and an older brother. Both of my parents were born and raised in the same community, so it felt like everyone knew my name. It was nice belonging to a community of familiar faces and having connections from the young to the old, all the way to friends of my grandparents. However, the downside was growing up during a time that “feelings” weren’t talked about. Growing up in a small town during the 80s & 90s, we seemed to live by a set of unwritten rules. 

A general idea shared by the community of what “normal” was and how to live a “normal” life”. As early as you could, you played sports. It was important to wear name brand jeans, the “right” brand of shoes, and your hair style was the same as everyone else. It was important to drive a nice car, have a nice home, it seemed too big of a risk to try anything different, because “what would people think?” That’s what you did if you wanted to fit in- it didn’t matter if you enjoyed it ….you pretended. 

My brother was good at sports and talking with people. It wasn’t his fault, & I wasn’t mad at him for it but it seemed like everything just worked out better for him. He had good grades, he was funny & had so many friends. I was shy and clumsy. I didn’t have much interest in anything. I just kept doing what was expected of me, and what was thought to be normal. Luckily, my Mom, (well known and liked by the community) had the courage to step out of the idea of normalcy and what people would think, and took me for help to face my depression and anxiety.  

I remember the early visits for depression and the therapist trying to learn more about me. I sat through several sessions repeating, “I don’t know” to his questions. I really didn’t know what I liked because I was used to liking what everyone else did or what people thought I should. It was easy to tell them what I didn’t like, I didn’t like much of anything. I was miserable but had no idea as to why.  

With my Mom’s persistence and several more therapy sessions, I gained some confidence as I got older. But, still living in the same town, and more freedom that comes with age, I discovered that I really liked hanging out in bars and drinking. I enjoyed feeling relaxed and finally being able to talk to anyone about anything. I found alcohol drew me out of my shell. It seemed that I finally found my place, I was no longer shy. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was on a fast path to trouble. Yet, this is home and I was comfortable. Today, I thank my Mom for her love and determination and that she pushed me to try new things. So I moved out of town and moved in with a friend from the same small town but new surroundings. This experience pushed me to see things differently, and embrace the many opportunities we have to create our own normal. Through the years, I gained confidence and contentment being me. 20+ Years later, I can say I found so many things that I actually do like doing. I’ve learned to have fun, to laugh at myself and there actually is no “normal”. I don’t need to strive for the approval of others and live how others think I should, but to just be true to myself.