retro photo month :: day twenty-two


junior year, high schoolHigh school was a challenging time for me. After freshman year, my family moved to a town over an hour’s drive from Dallas and the suburb in which I had grown up. I was fifteen, had lived in the same town since second grade, and felt like my life had turned upside down on me. At the time there was absolutely nothing between Dallas and our new home, and the town, located just a few miles from the Oklahoma border, seemed like Hickville to me. I came in as arrogant and angry as a person could get, but all of it was a front for the terror within. I had struggled with social anxiety my entire life, and I was in the midst of puberty with zero self-esteem, so to be thrown into a new environment where most of my peers had grown up with each other was nothing short of a living hell for me. I made no effort to fit in. I spent that first year, my sophomore year, doing everything I could to set myself apart. I shaped my entire personality around the New Wave music I was listening to, the music of my friends “back home,” which meant I was an instant outcast in the new town. I’ll never forget the double-take I received as a girl took in my “look” on the first day of driver’s ed class during the summer we moved: I wore a pink vest with silver stud buttons, coupled with white short-sleeved t-shirt featuring a mock turtleneck, over wide-legged pinstripe jeans that stopped just above my pink anklet socks and white canvas sneakers. Best part of the ensemble? The multitude of plastic buttons (now called “flair”) featuring images of Duran Duran that were pinned down the front of the pink vest. Oh, yes… I was stylin’ in 1984. That confused look by the girl at the high school truly set the tone for my remaining three years there. I was convinced that my family had moved to the smallest town on the face of the earth. And I spent the next five years dying to get out.
During that first year I did manage to make a true friend, a guy from one of my classes who shared the same interests in music and movies and quirky fashion, and to this day I believe Chris was my social salvation. However, this first year was a constant battle at home. My parents didn’t recognize their daughter anymore, and I’d say they were beginning to fear for me. My internal struggle was agonizing: on the one hand I was trying to assert my independence and attempt to “find myself,” while on the other I still wanted the approval of my parents. I had always been a good girl, had always been everything they expected me to be. And I wanted to make them proud. But after the move I felt betrayed. I couldn’t trust them anymore and I felt completely alone. During that first year I wavered back and forth in my spirit, attempting to be slightly rebellious to what they expected of me while also trying to not burn any bridges. It was exhausting. And I wavered between two personalities for the rest of my high school years.
When the above photo was taken I had begun a phase I call “the good Christian girl.” This was my junior year, after I had turned my back on my best friend Chris for — get this — piercing both earlobes. No lie. In small town middle America, circa 1985, a guy piercing both ears was thought to have questionable sexuality. And because homosexuality was just becoming prevalent in general society (but not yet in my world), this was true cause for concern. I didn’t know how to respond, so I treated Chris like an outcast. To this day it is my greatest regret and one of the most ridiculously stupid things I’ve ever done. That one day is the day I’d do over, if given the chance, because I never was able to mend that fence and I still miss the friendship I had with Chris. The year that followed saw a drastic change in my personality — one that made my parents happier but felt like a façade to me. I pretended to be what everyone thought I should be. I began wearing dresses most all of the time and acting very spiritual, and I did my best to please everyone around me, from parents to teachers to classmates and peers at church. But it was all an act, from beginning to end. What the girl in this photo doesn’t yet know is how tiresome a pretense becomes and how quickly those habits can be broken.

this month’s photos

sophomore year, high school grade 8 middle school drill team
circa 1980 grade 6 grade 5 scouts
bluebird sisters granddaughters and the matriarch three 70s sisters
sisters in plaid sisters, circa 1972 circa 1971 me, circa 1971 circa 1970
me and my sisters back at the Texas State Capitol Senate Chamber, Texas State Capitol at the Texas State Capitol summer photo day one

Retro Photo Month was inspired by Elizabeth Dillow. Be sure to check out her own collection at {a swoop and a dart}.


About Jules Q

sharing stories of life, faith, and love for pop culture

Posted on 22 July 2010, in Stories I Tell and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Another fantastic post with a great photo and terrific insight into your journey. 🙂


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