The environment I grew up in was not ideal by any means, however, I will give my mother credit where credit is due—she did the best she could with what we had. Without going into too much personal detail, I'll leave it at this—we were poor...very poor, and it wasn't my mother's fault.
Despite the lack of money situation, I was able to participate in sports growing up. I played on the soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams for my school from fourth through sixth grade. I loved playing soccer. I was short for my age and pretty small too, but very, very tough and strong. I played co-ed for the first two years and had no problem taking down a boy on the opposing team by "accident" in order to get the ball from him.
Around this time, I can honestly say I was a pretty confident young girl, but it didn't last very long. After many inappropriate interactions between my fourth grade teacher and I, my self-confidence began to plummet, and the once very outgoing Amanda that everyone knew (or thought they knew) began to shift into an extremely introverted and shy person.
After sixth grade, I would leave the public school system I was in and attend an art school. I was no longer interested in sports; I wanted to play the drums and become an ear, nose, and throat doctor (E.N.T.). At the art school, I made new friends fairly quickly, but that didn't help my confidence. It had already been damaged to a point of seemingly no return. The art school did not have a gym so, rightfully so, we took a required dance class instead. I loved it! I practiced hard and soon was able to do the splits (left, right, and center) as well as many different dance moves.
Everything sounds so great...doesn't it? Well, this is actually when shit hit the fan. I began worrying about my body as I was finally starting to grow and gain some weight, but I was terrified. I wanted to stay small and petite. In order to do so, I decided with a friend to go on a diet. I downloaded a calorie counting app in the eighth grade and used it almost daily until I was a sophomore in high school.
After eighth grade, I returned to the public school system because I lost interest in playing the drums and my parents saw no purpose of me continuing to go to the art school to try to pursue a dancing career. Back in the public school system, I was reunited with my old elementary school friends and I was signed up to take all honors classes which gave me the opportunity to show how smart I was and achieve a grade point average above a 4.0 all throughout the four years of high school.
Backing up a bit, I can honestly tell you that I have very little recollection of my freshmen year back in the public school system due to the fact that I had began restricting my calorie intake much more and was over-exercising on a daily basis. It was so serious that in gym class, from running so fast and so hard, I re-injured my foot (the growth plates to be exact) and it was so painful that I thought I had broken it, however, I continued to run on it anyway.
The following school year, (2011-2012) my sophomore year, is when everything really fell apart and there was no turning back. You'll see what I mean in "Amanda vs "Ana" Part 3."