Let me preface this by saying I'm not one to usually take part in social media challenges, for no other reason than I tend to be super busy working and being a single mom.

Get our free mobile app

But when my colleagues started sharing their "10 Year" challenges, and I began to see just how much some of them had changed, or in some cases hadn't, I was intrigued enough to take a look back at my own posts from 2012.

And what I found surprised me...but also reminded me of some important things. There were very few, if any, pictures of me from that year.

You see, 10 years ago, I was in the throes of early motherhood. I'd been married for 8 years, and had two small kids (a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old). I was a stay-at-home mom whose life revolved around her family.

10 Years Challenge 2, Cori Skall
10 Years Challenge 2, Cori Skall
loading...

Their dad worked a lot, so it fell on me (and I happily accepted the role) to care for the kids and the house. But in doing so, I pushed myself and my own needs to the back of the list, something I know a lot of women tend to do.

Exhausted woman in gloves wiping forehead during dishwashing, housekeeping
Motortion
loading...

Truthfully, it took me a while to realize my health was suffering because of it, and also my self-esteem. Like many moms, I had put on some extra weight during pregnancy, and had not managed to take it off as easily as I had put it on.

As a result of being the only one around and being not too thrilled with my appearance, the majority of my photos from 10 years ago are of my kids. If I am in any of them, it's wearing my children as visual armor to block the parts of me that made me unhappy.

baby body armor, Cori Skall
baby body armor, Cori Skall
loading...

Halfway through the year, I decided to try to reclaim some of my health, in a very simple move; I started taking family walks with my kids. My children were little, so I'd put them both in a side-by-side stroller with some books and toys, and I'd walk a couple of miles as many times a week as I could.

In a matter of months, I had lost a little weight and gained a little confidence; progress, albeit slow. And I was proud of that.

But as life often does, one summer afternoon, I was challenged by the opinions shouted at me by an ignorant human being.

Blur background of town street, city traffic on road
kostolom
loading...

If I'm being honest, my first reaction was to start to tear up because I felt both totally humiliated and defeated with just one sentence. I was ready to give up on all of the hard work it had taken to get to where I was and derail where it was I was headed.

Tero Vesalainen
Tero Vesalainen
loading...

But as I looked down, and saw two little faces look back up at me in confusion, that sadness quickly turned to anger, and ultimately determination.

They're watching ya, Cori Skall
They're watching ya,
Cori Skall
loading...

As almost a form of catharsis, I crafted an open letter, which I posted on my Facebook page 10 years ago, "To the classy man in the back seat of the white Chevy sedan ..."

A lot has changed in my life during the past decade. I had two more kids, found myself changing roles from a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to a working, single-mom trying to balance my own schedule with that of four busy school kids. And while both the physical and emotional weight of motherhood fluctuates back and forth, there was something from 10 years ago, a mental strength I tapped into because I knew I had to--my kids were watching and there was no alternative, that has served me well in these passing years.

10 Years Challenge, growth, Cori Skall
10 Years Challenge, growth, Cori Skall
loading...

So to those who are sharing their before and after photos from this "10 Year Challenge", I'd ask you to look beyond the physical differences you can or can't see and recognize the personal growth that got you from there to here. It's just as awesome, if not more so, in some cases.

10 Years Challenge, Cori Skall
10 Years Challenge, Cori Skall
loading...

And as a side note, a lesson we all should remember: don't be that guy in the white Chevy, throwing your opinion out at those you don't know. Unless you've walked a mile in their shoes, maybe shut up about their "need to keep walking"--and how about you start walking...away.

25 Bangor Then and Now Photos From Google Street View

Take a look at how Downtown Bangor, the Waterfront, State Street, Stillwater and more areas of Bangor looked years ago compared to today using Google Street View archives.

10 Bangor Playgrounds You Can Visit With Your Kids

If you're looking for a place to take your kids to run, jump and play, here are some options in the Bangor area.

See How Much Ellsworth's Population Has Grown Over The Years

While Ellsworth is the biggest city in the state when it comes to land, measuring in at almost 93 square miles, its current population of 8,399 residents ranks it #34, right behind Cumberland and before Buxton.

Here's a look at how the population in Ellsworth has grown over the past 221 years.

More From WWMJ Ellsworth Maine