It was one of those secret struggles. You don’t want to go anywhere. You feel different. You’re just depressed, you know. Like secretly depressed. But then you go out and hang with the boys and you put on this front. I’d look in the mirror and be like far man, why am I not beefing up like all the boys are? I was the skinniest out of everyone. Most people were big and wanted to lose weight. But I wanted to gain it. And that was stressful. It made me feel like sh*t. Cause I’m like man, I don’t feel comfortable in my skin, you know.
Most of my friends were the cool guys, the buff guys, the sporty guys. All the girls liked them. And I was the Steve Erkle of the group. So I went through school feeling like I didn’t fit in. My biggest fear at that time was not belonging. Not being enough. Being naturally skinny was just not cool in my eyes, so I tried everything. I doubled up on all the fatty Pacific Island foods you’d cook at home like taro and chop suey. There was a lot of KFC. I couldn’t afford to go to a gym so I trained at home using the furniture. But you do it all in secret. There’s no way I’m letting the boys know I’m trying to beef up, or having protein shakes and all that. It didn’t change anything, though. Nothing happened. I just couldn’t gain the weight.
It messed with my head. Even going to the beach I was thinking, you don’t have that look that all your friends have. And I kept hearing all these stories from bigger people who were trying to lose weight and were depressed. And I was the opposite. But I felt the same way, you know? I carried this in secret all through school. For years after, too. I never talked about it with anyone. My parents would move mountains for us, but they were really strict. It was a cultural thing. You have a problem? Deal with it on your own. There was just no open communication. I think about that a lot. Maybe if I had just spoken to my boys about it, you know this is how I’m feeling, what do you guys reckon? If I’d done that earlier, much earlier, it might have helped. But I couldn’t. I was too ashamed.
At school, there’s all this pressure to be cool. But after school, when you grow up and become an adult, that pressure melts away. So in my early 20s I finally thought, I don’t care now. Things changed and I just changed with it. It helped that I had a great support network around me. Friends who didn’t care about weight. Didn’t care if you’re small. I realised that having a certain look wasn’t everything. It wasn’t the most important aspect of my life. I learned to focus on what was important to me, and not on what others thought of me.
I’m a lot more secure in my own self spiritually, mentally and physically. I have children now, one of them is in his early 20s, and we’ve spoken from a young age about being open because we didn’t have that communication growing up. Our kids know they can always tell us how they’re feeling. I’m thankful for that because even now I don’t know of anyone that talks about being too skinny and how that makes them feel. But surely there’s someone with the same story as me. Maybe they don’t talk about it. Maybe, after this, they might.