Dating in Columbus: A Series: Episode 8: Ugly Duckling to Swan

Let’s go way back to when I was a kid, I was always cute in a Heidi way but not to the standard of cute / mainstream popular ever in school.

Let’s start at the beginning – of course, adorable Heidi – top right.

The beginning of school where you have big dreams, love school, and had real friends.

To the awkward years –

Before you laugh too hard; it was my favorite outfit – you weren’t going to drag me out of that outfit for anything in the world. My mom picked it up in Cincinnati after a swim meet because a couple of popular girls had it. Let’s just say that they were tan, pretty, and totally rocked it. I on the other hand, accomplished the feat of wearing it… that’s all we can say about it.

To the years of cheerleading, competition, boys, schools, and changing schools mid year 8th grade – for those who know that story… it could be a book all by itself! Another day…

To high school…

The end of my 8th grade I was hit by a drunk driver and was not supposed to swim, cheer, or tumble anymore. During middle school, I was involved in a lot of activities and some I loved more than others: soccer, swimming, diving, cheer, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, dance, and there might be a few additional things.

My love was swimming and diving – I made it to zones in breast stroke and did well. I was not a powerhouse and was definitely not going to the Olympics. I was decent in cheer but was gangly and the more I grew the harder it was to tumble as I felt like Gumby. If you don’t know who Gumby is, Google it.

Anyway, it wasn’t super long after the accident and I tried out for high school cheer and was cut. It was terrible as I wanted to do it; let me say that – I was not in the mood to try out, my body hurt (from the car accident) and my mom didn’t want me to regret not trying. There it is – cut from cheer.

I was not great at it to begin with – it was fun while I did it but it didn’t fit the Heidi version of me. To those who made it, I hope it was great. Years later, it was the best thing (being cut from HS cheer) that ever happened to me. I honestly think that the car accident and being cut from cheer – created a drive in me – I picked up tennis. Never having played before and that summer between 8th grade and high school – took lessons, did physical therapy, visited the chiropractor like 3 times a week and prepared for tryouts.

Everything in my life that happens that is unfortunate tends to work out better.

High school Cheer was the Greatest Gift I Never Got

I played tennis and met some amazing people and eventually got a college scholarship for tennis and play it today. God Blessed My Broken Road.

Okay, sometimes I go on a tangent and need to redirect myself back to the point. Let’s go to high school – 9th grade

So 9th grade was a year to remember; one of my friends was diagnosed with cancer – I didn’t know that could happen to kids – sounds dumb but I really didn’t know. I didn’t know that not being included was really the same as being excluded.

I wasn’t bullied in school; at times I was the vigilante- I helped Justice for those who had experiences with mean people. I was the friend that people turned to in crisis and for a listening ear. With that same breath, I was there for many; it wasn’t reciprocated in the same way back.

I played sports, was involved, had acquaintances, but felt alone. When I would get together with same age peers – I was typically annoyed, bored, and uninterested in what the girls were doing. I buddied up to a group of guys I had known from basically birth and talked video games and card games. These guys were nerdy by nature and those were the best friends I had. I was fortunate that these guys adopted me in their group.

I found people to sit with, navigated the waters with band and marching band, tennis but betrayal of friends happened that year over dumb things. To this day, one girl lied and was jelly and it was hard the rest of the year.

My parents didn’t know how to help or what to do; academically I did well, was a good kid, listened to what was expected and followed it but just struggled with fitting in.

My Sophomore year – I decided to go another high school. In my first few weeks, it was refreshing and to be honest- it was really the best and probably the happiest year of high school. I made some amazing friends who are still friends today – ones who were going places and ones who had fun! I was invited to go to football games, played tennis, wore Abercrombie like the rest of the girls – looking back – it was cool to be smart and the girls (again even to this day) were supportive of each other and truly lifted each other up.

There were the typical groups and mean girls – that doesn’t change but for a moment in time – it felt like I belonged and was among the people. I had my first date with a true gentleman. In all of my years, he was just so polite, honest, and good. During that year, I became friends with lots of people and grew as a person.

The end of the year – with any school year comes drama and picking your battles. Life is what it is and with choices people make – drugs, alcohol, and lifestyle – I tend to be very cautious of who I associate with.

At the end of the year, I transferred back to my regular high school. My parents were fine with me staying where I was – I decided to return. There are comforts in what you know, there are wins in being uncomfortable, and there are things you just have to do.

During my junior year, I liked someone a lot and this person was friends with people that lived in my neighborhood. Some of these people were friends and are today; some are just mean and continue to be so. Anyway, I liked this boy (Justin) and brought him some chocolates and card – and knowing what I know now….. girl – don’t ever put yourself out like that again!

I was driving so I took it upon myself to pick up a few things and give it to him which was met with an OMG and laughs and a toss of the items in the trash.

Let me just say – I was crushed, upset, and heartbroken. I am pretty sure I didn’t even tell my mom because I was so embarrassed. Justin told his friends and laughed and snickers all day. He had a brother and between the two of them and their friends… it was a lot.

I was a year younger – I was just so beyond shocked – it was Russell Stover small box of chocolates and a card – it wasn’t a ginormous teddy bear with balloons and all that – it was probably $6 and $1.25 card so it wasn’t like I was marrying this dude.

Anyway, looking back it really created pause and a distrust in the dating process. If you are reading this, hopefully no one stomped on your heart like that….

There is a quick insert here of my own learning that is important to mention. There was a guy a year younger than me who literally just adored me and would come to my swim club and check on me lifeguarding, joined me when I needed a last minute date to a dance, and was an incredible human. He never asked me out officially – always just friends – I wonder if I would have invested that energy in a kind soul like that if I would be writing this and out looking for a decent human.

Anyway, back to my story… that gut wrenching experience – embarrassment between the boy and his brother and the ongoing torment of things like “did you really think he would like you” “you are 2 on the 10 scale” Those words stuck in my head.

All My Words Are Important

I say this at work all the time because I am sometimes never short enough with what I need to say in writing. That experience by Justin caused me to have panic attacks in speech class during college – 2 concussions from passing out; it caused me to second guess any kindness toward others, and it gave me the show em attitude that someday – you will eat those words.

Karma Friends – It is So Real

When bad things happen to me; I evaluate situations and decide what I am going to do about it. Typically I walk away from everything to do with that person and find something completely different to focus on. Obviously I was in high school and it shouldn’t have been earth shattering to have someone laugh at you and be mean for a week; with Justin it lasted months.

There was just a fire that lit inside me. My senior year, I was determined to be pretty and determined to put forth effort – I also decided to go to college early because if this idiot dude could go; I most certainly could.

And so it began, a path of living well and for me:

My picture at the end of high school – can I get an Amen?

What people don’t know is that during the end of high school, one of the photographers from Victoria Secret wanted me to model and due to my own insecurities – never considered it – could probably have retired at 30 even if not with them … such is life.

So what happened….

The day came when I was on the dating app and Justin was on there. Looking all GQ and amazing and I look the same – I gained 10 pounds since high school but essentially look the same.

Let go back to Justin. Justin was tall, athletic, smart, and had maybe 5% body fat. He worked out, was lightly tan, ran, and was just gorgeous in my opinion.

I swiped right because curiosity killed the cat. Just a “hi” and let’s see how he rolls with this. He messages and says he would love to grab drinks and dinner next week. He rambles on about being sorry for the crap he did to me during high school. It was really mean – you are hot and I would like to take you to dinner.

I agreed to meet him outside the mall in Beavercreek so we could grab food following with no intention of grabbing food with this idiot.

So we get there and he says things like “wow, you are beautiful” “I am so glad we are here”

I literally said in my administrative voice – “I appreciate the kind sentiments and the apology you gave online”

The jest of what I said below:

Unlike you, I believe in having conversations if you don’t like something instead of making a production or embarrassing someone. I am hot, I am pretty, I am a model, I am paid for instagram work, I am hard working, I am a kind human – this is exactly why I want nothing to do with you. I would rather be alone in this world than to be married / date/ or be with someone who was cruel, unkind, and it wasn’t like it happened for a day or so. You terrorized me for 4 months – laughed and smirked and thought you were so cute. Here is a lesson in reality – be nice to the nerd, be kind to the nerd and her friends and even when you don’t want to be nice – be nice.

It happens over 20 years ago and I forgave you. I am strong enough to know my worth and today my friend – this might be the ugliest rejection you ever get by the girl you rejected a long time ago. Isn’t it funny how things work out.

I forgive you, I forgave you – I just wanted to see the look on your face when you got rejected by me. I do wish you well on your journey and hope you do have a good life. I am just self aware and know that someday I will find someone who is good. Not someone like you!

One could argue that my reaction was unkind or mean – for me it was redemption and taking back the control I gave this idiot years ago. I chose to let it bother me, I allowed him to have free rent in my head, but I am proud that I handled it well.

Do you think I was too harsh?

An update to this, so Justin messaged a few times on social media saying he realized his mistake and he really wanted another chance.

In my world, what he wanted was power and control again, see, I rejected him and that just isn’t something that Justin is used to. I didn’t respond- he was no longer worth my time.

Next episode: Stood Up

Music to this episode – Ain’t it Funny


A travel, home, & lifestyle blog written by Heidi Stevenson. Follow along for affordable ways to travel, sophisticated and savvy style, expensive looks for less for the home, and everyday style



Traveling Must Haves



Leave a Reply


  1. 1.22.23
    Bev said:

    Good for you! Karma is great and that is exactly what he deserved.

    • 1.22.23
      trendywithapassport said:

      Thanks! I felt it was warranted

  2. 1.22.23
    Lucas Earley said:

    I really enjoyed this. Looking forward to future episodes!!!! Keep up the good work!!! 🙌🏼🙌🏼

    • 1.22.23
      trendywithapassport said:

      Thank you! Please keep reading 🙂 feel free to email me any stories you have