Joanna Gaines seems the epitome of calm, cool and collected on “Fixer Upper” — the perfect balance to her free-spirited other half, Chip. With all that poise brimming whenever she appears on camera, you’d never guess that the soon-to-be mom of five has any insecurities. Turns out, the design guru wasn’t always the image of confidence audiences have come to know and love.
“I don’t think confidence has ever really been one of those things that came naturally for me,” she told Darling Magazine. “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.”
Gaines opened up about being bullied as a child, and how it greatly impacted her self-confidence, especially when she was targeted for something she had no control over: her mother and father are Korean and Caucasian, respectively.
“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.’”
The 39-year-old recalled a time in high school when found herself eating lunch in the bathroom alone because, along with moving to a new town, her childhood insecurities had not gone away.
“My fear and my insecurities just took over, and I felt like I’d way rather sit in the stall than get rejected.”
Gaines eventually moved to New York during her last semester of college, where she took a hard look at her life. The moment in the bathroom stall came to mind.
“I was by myself again where it was just me in a big city, and I remember that came back up again — just the thought of, ‘Am I good enough?’”
It took six months of soul searching for her to answer questions like “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose?”
After this self-reflection, Gaines figured out her true passion and has been working toward it ever since.
“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,” she continued.
With a thriving empire wherein she and her husband of 15 years help others improve their own lives — by designing and building dream homes, sharing their journey through books and magazines and building a sense of community through by way of Magnolia — Joanna’s confidence is strong as ever. And she’s passing on these lessons to the couple’s kids: Drake, 12, Ella, 11, Duke, 9, and Emmie Kay, 7, with one on the way.
“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,” she advised.
“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.”
“[Confidence] doesn’t come from your giftings and talents, it comes from knowing who you are and that there’s a purpose for your life.”
She added, “If I could tell the younger generation something it would be to start from within. Pinpoint insecurities early on and find the root of those dark places … Deal with the issues of your heart and allow your beauty to be defined from a whole place from within.
Just weeks ago, the couple went above and beyond for a family whose home they were renovating along with former football player Tim Tebow by offering to help them pay off their mortgage, and they accomplished their goal in just days.
Sharing a photo of the parents with their two children cheering in front of their home, Gaines wrote, “Y’all.. we did it! The Copp family’s mortgage has been paid in full. Thanks for teaming up with us to get this thing finished! Their lives are forever changed because of your generosity.”