“I literally walked in the lunchroom and walked out and went into the bathroom.”

Meghan Overdeep
February 27, 2018

 

Joanna Gaines has it all, a hit television show, a booming Magnolia empire, and an adorable, growing family, but that wasn’t always the case.

In a candid new interview with Darling Magazine, the beloved design queen discussed the pains of growing up a mixed-race child, the isolation that shook her self-confidence, and how those experiences have shaped her as a parent.

“I don’t think confidence has ever really been one of those things that came naturally for me,” Gaines, 39, revealed. “If people thought I was confident, it was really just the way I masked my insecurity, because I didn’t want people to really get to know the real me.”

“If you haven’t heard my story, my mom is full Korean and my dad is Caucasian,” the Fixer Upper star continued. “Kids in kindergarten would make fun of me for being Asian and when you’re that age you don’t know really how to process that; the way you take that is, ‘Who I am isn’t good enough.’”

Gaines said that anxiety continued to build over the years. And it only got worse when her family moved from Kansas to Texas during her sophomore of high school and she became the “new kid.”

“I literally walked in the lunchroom and walked out and went into the bathroom,” she recalled. “My fear and my insecurities just took over and I felt like I’d way rather sit in the stall than get rejected.”

She continued: “I discovered that my purpose was to help people who are insecure because I didn’t like the way it made me feel, in that stall; that’s not who I am.”

The mother of four (with one on the way!) said that those painful experiences have shaped the way she parents her brood. “I always tell my kids to look for that kid on the playground who’s not playing with anybody, to go reach out, ask them their name, to look for the kid in the lunchroom who isn’t sitting by anybody, be their friend,” Gaines said. “I think when you come from a place like that, even though it was only six months for me, there’s always that place of humility you never want to forget, and that experience grounded me in that I want to look for the lonely, the sad, the people who aren’t confident, because that’s not where they’re supposed to stay.”