I AM SO STOKED FOR THIS STORY! Recently I got the chance to interview my friend Lauren who had an amazing and inspirational story to tell. This was my first time getting to interview someone that I knew personally before conducting the interview itself. Lauren’s story examines topics that I think are so prevalent in today’s society that not many women or men talk about. Laurens story shows us how to love ourselves, and really embrace who we are as people regardless of the image that we might see when we look in the mirror. I love and admire her passion to help other people, and am hopeful that her story will impact whoever reads it.
Lauren Galt Interview
Leland: Tell me a little bit about your background, where did you grow up? Where both of your parents in the picture?
Lauren: I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, around the panhandle of Alaska. Both of my parents are native my dad is full Tlingit, and my mom was from a tribe in Washington called the Cowlitz so my culture definitely played a huge part in my life especially living in the Pacific Northwest. I lived in Ocean Shores for a little bit which was right on the water and that’s where I fell in love with paddle boarding, and being in the water. Eventually, we moved to the suburbs of Seattle around the age of 10, and I lived there until I moved here to Chicago. As far as my parents go, my mom and I have always been super close, we have always been really tight which is awesome. As far as my dad goes we weren’t really close, he wasn’t really there that much, and I could tell that my mom was pretending that the marriage was going well, but it really wasn’t. Anyways they ended up getting a divorce in 2012 right before Christmas when I was in the 7th or 8th grade. It was a pretty ugly divorce and my dad had stopped paying child support, and it was just hard for both of us. Overall it was for the better, and we were happy and it needed to happen.
Leland: Do you still keep in contact with your dad?
Lauren: No, the only contact that I have had with him is stuff having to do with court. It’s rough, but it’s for the best and I think I am better now because of it.
Leland: Was your childhood a good experience overall?
Lauren: I really loved my elementary years because I lived on the beach. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are walking alongside the beach every day after school. Every day I would find something, and it would always be something new. It gave me this sense of curiosity and wonder.
Leland: Growing up would you say you were a curious kid?
Lauren: Totally, I’ve always been really outgoing and I didn’t really have any issues with bullying or anything like that. I was just a really curious kid, overall I was just pretty normal. I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t unpopular I was just an average kid.
Leland: What was middle/high school like for you?
Lauren: In middle school, I just blended in, and was a normal student. I did really well in my academics and I wanted to get into a good college so I was super focused on my studies. I wasn’t really super attractive back then, and all together it was just an average experience. High school came around, and I really got involved with music, I actually used to play the trombone and then I switched over to choir in my freshman year. Anyways, I got really involved with music and choir and eventually ended up in audio which is where I really found out what I was passionate about. The high school I went to was the largest public school in the state of Washington, so my overall high school experience was really interesting and I loved it. I was working with the jazz band every day doing sound for them, and I would even work with them after school. I was just submerged in music all the time. I really loved high school, but it’s also when I started dating. I got into my first relationship in sophomore year, and it started out all nice and slow, but then things grew worse over time. For the year that we were together, my partner became very abusive mentally and would be extremely manipulative. I wanted to break up with him, but I thought it wasn’t a big deal and that we were just trying to figure ourselves out. On top of all of this, something I’ve always struggled with is being self-conscious about how I look. I was 140 lbs and I hated the way I looked, and I would constantly compare my self to my older sister who is stunning. I didn’t want to work out, so I just stopped eating altogether. I became bulimic, and I ended up going from 140 lbs to 95 lbs. My boyfriend at the time loved it, because to him I looked great, but I was just skin and bones. Even though I lost all that weight, I would still look in the mirror and think that I was overweight. I wanted to look perfect, and I would always look at social media and think “Nobody will love me if I am not a picture perfect girl.” I eventually told my partner “I think I need to start gaining my weight back and eat more healthily.” For whatever reason that ticked him off, and he became really physically abusive with me, I actually had to have my floating ribs removed, because he had thrown and kicked me up against the wall. I remember him saying “Don’t gain weight because no one will ever love you.” To be honest, that’s stuff that I still hear sometimes in my head. It was just really hard because I was still mentally and physically out of it due to bulimia. This was definitely the most draining part of my life, I ended up staying with him for a little bit after that.
Leland: Why did you stay with your partner after all of that abuse?
Lauren: At that point, it was just staying with him out of fear. It was really scarring mentally and physically, and I still have actual scares on my body and in my head. It definitely doesn’t help with how I see myself. Eventually, I got out of the relationship at the end of my junior year. The summer between my junior and senior year was a big turning point in my life. I started getting healthy, I was going to the gym and I was eating right. I was also becoming thin again but this time in a healthy way. I was feeling really good at this point in my life. At the beginning of my senior year, I got into another relationship. Luckily this time the relationship was a lot healthier, I was still nervous because of my previous relationship but I still was insecure about how I looked. Even to this day honestly, I’m very self-conscious about how I look, and what I put into my body, I mean sometimes I’ll even weigh myself up to four times a day. So it is still something that is always on my mind, thinking “No one’s going to love me, I have to look perfect all the time, I have to compare myself to these people.” As much as I don’t want to admit it to myself, I put too much on how others see me in a dating sense. Sometimes I’ll see a guy and think “I wonder what he thinks of me?” Even though I don’t necessarily want to be in a relationship at this point in my life. For me, I never wanted it to affect my personality, because I love myself as a person, but sometimes it just got the best of me. One thing that I will do is I’ll trust too many people because I have a genuine love and compassion for my friends. Something I hate doing is having to tell myself not to trust a specific person because I really want to. It sucks cause all of sudden someone who you thought cared about you instantaneously doesn’t care about you at all. It’s all about finding that medium where you still keep your personality intact, but you have that apprehension of safety. I think for a lot of girls, they will take their anxiety and think “How is that other person going to see me?” and truthfully it’s just about knowing yourself, and finding your own identity.
Leland: What really escalated you going downhill as being upset with how you looked, and what kept adding to your depression?
Lauren: It was definitely after my first relationship, and I was really shaken to the core about it because my whole perception of everything was flipped upside down. I didn’t really have a whole lot of support during it, and I really didn’t want to tell my mom about it because I loved her so much and I wanted to be there for her, and wouldn’t ever want to hurt her in any way shape or form. So I didn’t really have a whole lot of people to talk to about it at all. When I started going to the gym, I became almost obsessed with it and I became obsessed with counting calories and it became really unhealthy. Altogether I think that’s what really escalated it was I thought I was so hopeless because I couldn’t even be healthy in a healthy way. I just thought “why can’t I do this and do it in a way that I should be able to.” I was just so lost, and I just wasn’t healthy and I eventually had to admit to myself that I had a problem. I never wanted to tell myself that because everybody always told me “Oh Lauren, you have your stuff together and you know what you’re doing with your life.” On paper, it might look like I have my entire life mapped out but it really wasn’t. I would never have the guts to tell people who said “I wish I could have your life” No, you really don’t want my life. It came to the point where I compared myself to the person everybody else saw me to be.
Leland: When would you say you hit rock bottom?
Lauren: I would say there was a day that everything just went wrong and I worked my way up from rock bottom. My mom stopped drinking for about 8 years, and then a few months before I left for college she started drinking again. She is not a good drunk, to say the least, she is aggressive, angry, and she turned into the person that wasn’t my mom. That broke my heart knowing that the one person that I loved so much turned into a different person. Anyways there was a night where we were just arguing about something, she started talking about how I looked fat. She just getting into what she knew affected me, I knew deep down that she didn’t mean any of it because she was drunk, but obviously, it hurt me. I’ve never had suicidal thoughts before, but that was the night that I thought I could end it all. I was completely lost, I had absolutely 100% no direction. That was the point where I had to sit down and thought I need to figure this out. I remember she was banging on my door and still screaming at me, and I just put headphones in and I just had to keep telling myself that things are going to be great eventually. At the end of the night, each person is an individual and they need to care for themselves. What other people think of you doesn’t have to affect you overall.
Leland: How did you start to regain control of your life?
Lauren: I think moving to Chicago was a major turning point in my life. I’ve always been really independent ever since I was young, and I prided myself in my independence and that really helped whenever I felt lost. Anyways moving here you only gain more independence and you become a better person because of it. Being here in the city where you have so many opportunities and people around you working in a constructive way to achieve your dreams. I just love the environment here.
Leland: Would you say you’re successful with regaining control of your life?
Lauren: I’m working on it, and I think I’m going to continue to work on it. I don’t know anyone ever really finds a place where they just feel like everything is perfect because life happens and it will screw things up sometimes. Yet I think I have definitely been very successful in taking back what I want my life to be. I’m definitely creating what I want my life to be. I want to do music because I want to help people. Things can happen really quickly, or really slowly and they can also change as well. There were definitely points and days where I thought my life was never going to be good again, and then all of a sudden things became good again. So my success story is starting, I’m at the beginning.
Leland: If you could go back in time to the day before you met your first boyfriend for the very first time knowing all that you know now, what would you do or say?
Lauren: In hindsight knowing all that I know now I would never have gone out with him, but I think out of that relationship I don’t know if I would be as strong as I am now. I think as bad as it was and the circumstances I was in weren’t necessarily ideal. I don’t necessarily want to blame all of what I’ve been through on him but I would definitely take a step back to analyze the situation better. I don’t really know what I would say, I wish it never happened, but it made me a better person.
Leland: What is your new excuse to live life? and why is life worth living?
Lauren: I love people. I am a huge people person and I love to surround myself with people. I genuinely love and care about them so much. I really do love my friends and I care about them so deeply, whether they be friends, or someone I’m in a relationship with, or a co-worker I just truly care about them. I just love helping other people, and it helps me when I help others. It’s just truly beautiful to have this beautiful connection with others, but helping each other.
Leland: What is your purpose here on earth?
Lauren: Being 18, I don’t know if I have found that yet. I’m still searching, part of the purpose is trying to find your purpose. If someone after I’m gone said “this person helped me become the person who I absolutely wanted to be.” Then that’s my purpose I want to help other people and guide myself through just being there for them, and I want to be known as that person someone could look towards for help. Even if I can’t give any advice, I’d just like to at least sit and listen and be present in their life. I just want to be a positive impact on someone else.
I absolutely adore Lauren’s story, and I appreciate her congeniality and positivity. This story inspires me so much, and I love how she’s able to use her experiences to help others learn how to love themselves. Something that has been distorted in our culture is our definition of the word “Beauty.” Being beautiful is not defined by your body type, the amount of makeup you put on, or the clothes you wear. True beauty is defined by your character, it’s who you are as a person. You are beautiful, and I know this because you have talents, gifts, a personality, attributes, and things that only YOU can do. Sometimes we get so caught up in the world that we are in and we forget whats real and whats not. We forget how beautiful we really are. We believe this lie that we are told constantly on a daily basis that we don’t belong, or that we look “ugly” because that girl or boy is more “attractive” than we are. We forget that we are masterpieces and nothing less. You were created out of love, and there is real genuine UNCONDITIONAL LOVE out there, I promise you. Sometimes all you have to do is step back and look at the big picture. Yes young lady, you are pretty enough and one day you will find someone right for you. Yes young man, you are smart enough and you are good enough for someone, and you’ll find them one day as well.
Know the fight, and I remember what’s real.
“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.” – Max Depree