Photo: Mackenzie Stroh
32, Benicia, California
Occupation: Manager, Bookshop Benicia
What sparks her mettle: Doing it all on her own
"I was sheltered growing up, homeschooled from first grade to ninth. I always found interacting with strangers scary, like when I had to make a doctor's appointment or order a pizza. I ended up marrying really young, and a few years later, I was a 23-year-old divorcée with a 3-year-old daughter and a baby boy on the way. Suddenly there was no one else to make those appointments or order those pizzas. Or kill spiders. Or confront my daughter's schoolyard bullies. Or figure out how to submit the endless custody paperwork I had to file. Doing those things on my own was how I started to find my sense of ability. I bought tools and learned how to build things. When my washing machine broke, I fixed it myself. And I got a lot better at talking to people. Working at the bookstore, I meet a lot of people who come from a different walk of life than mine. (And who aren't half as pierced or tattooed.) But I don't ever want that to matter. I don't want to stand there with shaky hands, feeling unsure of myself. I want to make a real connection. Of course, there are mornings when I wake up and think, I am not fit for public consumption today—and other times when I think, 'I have no business raising children, let alone by myself.' But in both cases I remind myself that I have a role to play, a job to do. Until my kids are grown up, I don't have a choice. I can't falter. I can't fail."
Next: Dr. Phil: 6 steps to self-assurance