Heather Fisher is a single mother, has a great job, her own store, is doing great things for her community and has been on television. She took us back to her teenage years and allowed us to ask her the good, the bad, what she thought about back then and what she thinks about it now. Being 35 years old, she graduated about 16 years ago. Her advice and insight is very comforting for some of us currently going through that thing called high school.
Heather feels that teenagers are trying to figure out who they are by wearing different hats. So, whether it is dressing a certain way, or wearing a lot of makeup; everyone is trying to figure out which personality fits them best. She says, “We’d all be better off if we had that personal growth without having a lot of people pointing and laughing at us. “
There are, of course, certain things that come up being a girl; so, I asked Heather what it was like when she got her period. She was living with her dad, at the time. When her period first appeared she quietly knocked on his door. He went to the grocery store and got her tampons without any questions. Her period wasn’t anything they discussed, but by that time she knew about it. She had an older sister who had already experienced it. Because of this older sister, the topic of sex was also something that Heather knew about. When Heather got to a certain age there was no shame in birth control pills. Birth Control pills were something her parents encouraged and supported in a healthy way.
Although it is “embarrassing” the truth is that Heather almost didn’t graduate from high school. A portion of her high school experience was hanging out with the “naughty kids, doing naughty things”. Things did not start out that way for her. In 6th, 7th and 8th grade she was, “kind of a nerdy kid”. She was science student of the month, and math student of the month. She was also very athletic. This is also the time she was finding it difficult to find out who she was. Being an eccentric person, she dressed in different clothes and put on different personalities to figure out who she was. She ended up going to school only for social reasons and not for academic reasons. By the time 10th grade came around she hardly ever went to class. Heather started to find where she fit in once she started taking a lot of art classes. She started caring a little bit more about school, again, but by that time it was almost over.
When Heather was in 6th and 7th grade, she was bullied quite a bit. She would ask herself what she was doing wrong. She remembers one incident like it was yesterday. She was on the playground when a whole group of girls surrounded her. One girl knocked her over while the group of them started laughing. She wanted to go and cry. This incident and others are very fresh in her mind. This is the same time Heather was going through her own personal struggles at home. Heather says, “Have some empathy and compassion maybe they are going through something that you have no idea about.” Heather went through years without out telling her friends that her parents were divorced. Even her closest friends didn’t know. Heather lived with her dad after the divorce. He was her primary support growing up. Looking back, Heather feels that all her friends were struggling with something. There was not one friend who had it easy even though, during high school, Heather thought everyone else was good and that she was the only one struggling.
Due to her own insecurities and poor choices Heather then started hanging out with the different kids who were not always on their best behavior. She was no longer math student of the month etc. The truth is Heather became a bully herself. Heather had a best friend who she started bullying. This happened upon making new friends. Heather’s new friends didn’t think her best friend was cool. The new friends started making fun of Heather because of her uncool friend. Instead of sticking up for her; Heather participated in the bullying. As an adult, Heather says she still feels horrible about it.years after high school Heather sent this person a letter in the mail apologizing to her. Heather says, “I was an asshole to her and she did not deserve any of it”. Girls can be so hard on each other, verbally, emotionally and physically.
Bullying is cruel but it is also very different today than when Heather was in high school, because of social media. Facebook didn’t come out until Heather was in college. She didn’t have people hiding behind a computer sending her hate mail. Heather says, “It’s so easy now. People don’t even have to have an identity to hurt people so deeply.” With her tv show Heather learned about internet trolls. She didn’t understand why these people were being so mean to her. “It was hard because if they don’t like the show then they just don’t have to watch it.” The stuff they were saying was just awful. They even created fake profiles. Heather has a ton empathy for young women today. Not only are they trying to make it amongst their peers, but with the internet there is “the whole desensitization of human to human contact.” And it is much harder to understand.
A lot of times women may feel that to succeed they must step on somebody to get ahead. However, Heather says, “Community over competition” is super important to her now. “Everyone would succeed faster and stronger if we can work together and support each other.”
Heather had several teachers who supported her and positively impacted her life. For example, the art teacher who taught her how to paint ended up having art at Heather’s store. Heather also had a math teacher who tutored her afterschool. She would join him and his family at his house because he knew she needed the help. Then there is Charyl Korpal who was Heather’s marketing teacher. Heather describes her as this tiny little woman who was so confident, lovely, and caring. She taught Heather how to write a business plan and allowed her to decorate the store window for the first time. Charyl didn’t look down at Heather because she didn’t attend school she just cared about her students unconditionally. Charyl is still one of Heather’s biggest supporters.
Heather’s high School GPA was so low that she had to be on academic probation when she went to college. But things changed. She was on the Dean’s List every semester. She graduated Suma Cum Laude. She just needed to find out who she was. High School does not have to define the person you are.
We asked Heather what her best advice is for young ladies out there she said, “We are all doing the very best that we can with the tools we have all been given. Give them some grace. Give yourself some grace.”