When I was in middle school, I got a pair of Keds tennis shoes for Christmas. Do you remember these? They were white, canvas, nothing really special about them except for the small, blue tag on the back. These shoes cost $27.99. And EVERYONE was wearing them.
They really didn’t last all that long. It wasn’t long before mine were stained and worn, and I was ready for another pair. By that time, however, my mother had discovered that Walmart sold very similar shoes for only $3.50. They looked virtually the same. Oh, except they had a bright orange rectangle in the back, which basically said, “Attention! Not Keds!” I was mortified. I cried and begged, but mom wasn’t budging.
And so I did the only rational thing I could. I cut the blue tag off the Keds, the orange tag off of the not-Keds, and created something that kind of looked like the real thing.
This moment… this gluing a designer tag on something much cheaper, seemed to set the theme for my time in middle/early high school. I desperately wanted to be good enough. Since I came from a large family that didn’t really have a lot of money, I never seemed to have what the other girls had. There was a time when I honestly thought that if I could have a pair of Guess Jeans, a United Colors of Benetton shirt, and a Jansport backpack, my life would have been complete. Often, I did get the things I really wanted – a panda coin ring, a pink ice ring, a leather bomber jacket, a pair of umbros, but just slightly after the other girls had stopped wearing them. Add all this to the fact that I was a little chubster AND had incredibly fine, limp hair, AND liked New Kids on the Block long past when it was socially acceptable, and I felt like I had no chance.
It never even occurred to me that my personality might be enough to make up for the little things I didn’t have. I was always envious of the girls who had it all, but I was even a little more envious of the girls who didn’t, but didn’t seem to care.
Insecurity is a funny thing. The days have long since passed that I’m worried about having certain labels to fit in. I’m always a bargain shopper, and in fact, it’s my nature now to kind of go in the opposite direction when things get wildly popular (okay, except Kate Spade. Even if everyone else starts to love her, she was mine first. I shan’t ever give her up!). But some things haven’t changed. I’m still a little chubster. I still have a pretty passionate love/hate relationship with my hair. I still can rock out to some Hangin’ Tough on occasion. And though I’m pretty secure up on a stage or at a pulpit, when I’m sitting at a lunch table full of people, I’m still a scared 7th grader just praying people will like me.
Am I alone in this?
And, just for your viewing pleasure, some pics of me in middle school -
|Check out those bangs!|
|I actually loved this sweater. There's no accounting for taste.|
|Whoa. A purple silk shirt and "dress" shorts.|
But to be fair, I'm not the only one who looks crazy here!
|My proudest hair moment! I worked so hard for those curls!|