Some insight into my youth: I was never, nor am I now, a cool chick. Not cool at all. In fact, probably the opposite of it, and probably because I wanted to be cool so badly.
With age comes wisdom, and wisdom is basically knowing that you’re not cool and not caring about it. I’m really wise, guys.
Anyway, the theme of the evening was “Envy.” I wrestled with the theme because I try not to be envious of anyone, except Beyoncé. (I think we can all agree, she’s pretty much ruling the world, and even with her 8th grade education, she’s still cooler and smarter than us mere mortals.) But aside from that, I’m pretty OK with who I am.
However, that’s not always been the case, has it? And when I dared to look back into my past, I realized I was really jealous in middle school. Below is a short (less than 5min storytelling) story of one of my darkest moments, and also, how I learned my lesson.
You may not be able to tell by my Olympic physique, but I was – am – terrible at sports.
And ALL I wanted to do when I was growing up was be in my school’s volleyball team. The girls in the volleyball team were the coolest. I had some friends in the team, and every year they just seemed to get cooler. They had developed a short hand; they had specific uniforms, knee-pads, and special sneakers they got at Foot Locker – not like my cheap frilly ones from K-mart.
My parents had refused to invest in expensive sportswear for me, and for good reason. I have absolutely no hand-eye coordination, no depth perception. If a ball was going left I went right, just absolutely clueless when it came to any sort of sport. If there was a speed reading competition, watch out. I would own that!
I had no concept of shame. I tried out for the team every year; I wanted to be cool like all the other girls. You know, when you’re in elementary school everyone is kind of together, there’s no real clique yet. But every year that passed it became clearer that I was not sticking with my cooler friends who were making it into the volleyball team, they had tournaments, they were let out of class early to make it to games across town on time, and they complained about being tired because they got home from practice soooo late.
Ugh, I wanted to complain about being tired!
They also looked cool. They had cool pony tail accessories, cool sneakers, and VB Rags. If you don’t know what VB Rags are, you are really missing out. They look like a cross breed between MC Hammer pants, if they were shorts, and Magnum PI Hawaiian prints on them. Yeah, hindsight. But they would bring the new collections to school, and they weren’t cheap pants, contrary to what they looked like. And the girls on the team would be let out of class so they could pick out their colors and buy pants for the season. I really wanted VB Rags.
There was an unspoken rule at my school that 6th graders were allowed in any team, even if they hadn’t participated in any sports prior to that. 6th grade was the equivalent of high school seniors at my school, and they wanted to give us a chance to be in a team sport. We were a charity case. But again, I stress, no shame. So, I tried out, and this time, I made the team.
First order of business, get my pudgy self into those VB Rags, a children’s extra large team t-shirt, and convinced my parents to take me to Foot Locker. I am in the volleyball team, I repeated this several times at the store.
Now, again, in hindsight, I should have picked up on some of the clues at the store, but I had fallen in love with a pair of sneakers, and no one could talk me out of them. They were green, black, with white piping high top court sneakers. It’s the early 90’s take it with a grain of salt.
The day finally arrives, the first tournament where I’m going to participate. I had a scrunchy that matched my VB Rags and my freaking awesome sneakers with the knee-pads coolly resting on top of them. Everyone knows you don’t pull up your knee-pads until you’re going to play! I had been practicing my volleyball-girl attitude and look FOREVER! Aaaand I spent a good 2/3rds of the game warming that bench real nice.
Finally, when we were so far ahead and there were maybe a couple of minutes left, I was allowed to go in. I played. Well, looked at the ball go back and forth. Whatever. I was in the winning team, and it went to my head real fast.
We went to sit at the bleachers to watch the boys’ part of the tournament begin. I did my best to imitate the cool way the other girls were sitting, because they knew how to sit on the bleachers. I was really uncomfortable. When 3 boys from one of the other cool schools walked in front of us, AND THEY WERE WEARING THE SAME SNEAKERS.
I was wearing boy sneakers. There were red flags at the store, but I hadn’t picked up on them.
And just like that, my cool moment ended. I was never going to be a cool girl, in middle school, there’s no way to bounce back from wearing gender bending footwear.