Alright…we spent some time in the 80’s for The Kid Years, now it’s time to head over to the 90’s for the teen years. Now these were some of the best years of my life…hands down! Even though I did experience some hardships with the biggest being my parents divorcing, I’d have to say I feel like I came out of these years in the better.
The Teen Porsche
The teen Porsche was the start of ambition and the want to be well-rounded. I’d now fully recognized myself as being studious and I embraced being the smart girl even if I didn’t feel the prettiest at times. I’d also decided that leadership would be my claim to fame. I wanted to be positively recalled more so than being popular but as has been the theme carried throughout my life, I felt more comfortable having a few toes dipped in all the pools rather than concentrating on being labeled as any one particular thing. So as for this teen years post, it would perhaps be best walked through by looking at all facets of this girl…
The way I dressed…
I think the teen years are the years that most of us growing up in the 80’s and 90’s were finally allowed to develop our own style. Now there still had to be a standard of appropriateness, but we dressed ourselves and picked out our own clothes. When you’re in elementary school your style is your parents’ style for a kid lol. Anyway, I’d have to say I’ve always been pretty middle of the road. Nothin’ to see here folks. I will say I’ve never been too edgy of a dresser but one memory I can truly recall from these years would have to be the body dresses. Really popular more so during my junior high years, I still remember this one body dress that I would wear that I purchased from a beauty supply store on University. It was striped and it came to my ankles. It also tied at the boobs and honey, you cannot tell me I was not hot stuff when I would wear that thing…lol. I can literally hear that song “The Men All Pause”😂. Alright, let me stop. I don’t want you thinking I dressed like a little hooch or anything. That was just my little special outfit on days when I was feeling myself.
Now my hair was another piece of the puzzle. The teen years hair for me consisted of crunchy hair styles that I had to sleep on my chin to protect. I’m sooooo glad that is over! Those would include French rolls with beads pinned down the seam, thin ringlets all over, teased and microwaved high ponytails, and tall fan bangs. I wonder if that stuff will ever come back in style. If it does, I can definitely stay I will no longer be stylish.
The ultimate that still seems to be relevant today though is braids. The first time I got braids with extra hair added in was 10th grade. Talk about excited. Who didn’t want braids after seeing Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice? Only thing is my hereditary-induced thin edges won’t let me be great with braids. I think dreadlocks lets me live my “I want to wear braids all the time” dreams out without having to sacrifice my edges 😂
I think I might have used academics as my source of fulfillment for validation and approval. In retrospect, I think the reason I gravitated towards that is because it was a way to receive positive recognition or feedback that was for the most part objective rather than subjective. It required little to no persuasion. I just had to do the work and let the grades speak for themselves. In junior high, I kept straight A’s the entire time in 8th and 9th grade.
By the time I made it to Little Rock Central High, I had to let that reign go. Central was no joke! I know a lot of people who didn’t attend school there saw it as a rough house of sorts, but to me it was a really serious academic institution. The academic standards in those GT and AP classes were high. If you were in those classes, you had to earn your keep. I had my first academic struggle in geometry in 10th grade. Proofs!! Haven’t seen them since then and hope to never see them again! All in all, it ended all good. I was able to have both the National Honor Society and the Honor Graduate ropes at graduation that I coveted. To me, that was a bucket list check off of my childhood academic career.
Teen Porsche’s interests…
Now this is where I think I honed in on my social and leadership skills. I was a cheerleader in junior high and did drill team in high school. I ended up being captain of both. Now let me dissect each of those a little and give some memory perspective.
I can remember being in elementary school and checking books out at the library about cheerleading that the National Cheerleading Association published. There were black and white pictures of the different jumps like toe touch and herky and some of the different stances. There were pictures of different multi-partner stunts, and let me just say I was all in. I wanted to be one sooooo bad. By the time I made it to 7th grade, I’d even convinced Mama to let me take a cheerleading class at River City Gymnastics. I never could do black flips or tumble like some of the other girls but my years of dance had my cartwheels and round-offs on point! 😂. I’d also decided to concentrate more on what I could do which was make sure my volume level and clarity of my voice was on point and that I stuck my moves and had cheerful facial expressions. Paid off, I suppose. I still remember getting the coveted H to wear around my neck after tryouts to school the next day. It was a symbol to all that I made the squad…it was a badge of honor 😊 . Equally as meaningful to me was the cute baby blue sailor-collar jacket with my name embroidered on the back and then adding Captain to the bottom of that my 9th grade year. Crazy how the smallest things were so important to me back then.
Now where drill team in high school was concerned it was more specifically referred to as the Little Rock Central High Hi-Steppers. I’ll admit I was totally green on what it meant to be a part of the Hi-Steppers. I just knew that it seemed like the drill team got more student attention than the cheerleaders and since that was important to me back then, I decided to use high school to make that transition. Boy was I in for a treat! There was so much history being a part of that team. So much tradition. Even the drum beat that we would march on and off to I will never forget! To this day when I hear that it takes me right back to the football field or basketball court. It is just all-consuming and exciting! Football season was especially memorable because we would parade with the band all the way from the band room in the main building to the football field. Just sooooo exciting!! To be elected to be a captain on the team was probably the one leadership position I was the most excited about during the teen years. I’m so happy I had that experience and have those memories. ❤️
The other thing that was near and dear to me was singing. I’d developed a skill for this in my junior high years, first at church and then in school. I did the gospel choir and pop choir in junior high, the latter of which you had to audition and be selected for. I’d also done choir and madrigals in high school. I knew I wanted to be a madrigal ever since I saw their first performance my sophomore year. I loved the black dresses they would wear and the intricacies of their music. I was so excited to be able to do that my senior year!
Now I was more than just leader for dance and cheer. Your girl was involved in leadership within and beyond my school too. In junior high, I presided over a few different clubs mainly Student Council and FBLA.
The one opportunity I vividly remember outside of school was Youth Leadership Institute. I remember being selected for this in 10th grade along with many of my friends that I had been in elementary and junior high school with who were destined for leadership as well. We met regularly to develop our leadership skills and culminated our experience with a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion. I still have the invitation for the program.
Pictured above is my very first car beloved and known simply as “The ‘Ge”… that’s pronounced zhay 😂. She was a hand-me-down from Mama when she began upon her journey of being an avid Saturn car supporter in March of 1997. This picture was taken at the Saturn dealership when The ‘Ge was officially turned over to me. I even dressed up a little to commemorate the occasion. She overheated at stoplights and so I had to carry around a jug of water with her in the summer. Her automatic seatbelts stopped working. Her horn honked in the middle of the night for no reason, and the middle of the steering wheel that covered the horn would come off. She always lost the same hubcap that I’d have to go to Hubcap Annie’s and re-purchase over and over again. Yet…she was mine and we were happy! 😂
Start of my career…
My first real job was at Walmart. I was a cashier and I loved it. It’s something about pecking keys on the register with accuracy and speed or even keyboarding that brings me calm. Not quite so happy was I when the brand new white Tommy Hilfiger shirt I’d just gotten for my 16th birthday and had foolishly decided to wear to work one Saturday was christened with a customer’s can of Coke that decided to explode when I was checking them out.
The real significant thing about the teen years where work was concerned though is that it is when my pharmacy career started. I was a clerk at Kroger Pharmacy in Little Rock. Mama worked there as a pharmacy technician and had convinced them to hire me. I ended up working at 2 or 3 different locations and thus my fire for pharmacy was fueled. Pharmacy has changed a lot over the years, thus my desire to work in a pharmacy has waned. However healthcare and medicine are still my passions that I’m blessed enough to serve in a different way these days.
Exiting the teens….
I’ll use that to describe my “adulthood” teen years which I’d say starts with high school graduation. Mama made a huge deal out of high school graduation for me. Just like kindergarten graduation, she bought a cake but this time just for me and all our family that would visit to attend either my baccalaureate or graduation ceremony. I also remember her dropping it before she brought it into the house which I can’t imagine how that must have made her feel. Nevertheless, she forged ahead and it wasn’t too badly damaged and I was still so appreciative of her for doing that for me.
There was the fan fare from the church and all the cards and gifts that were coming to the house. I think the thing that I loved the most was the opportunity that was given to me to address the senior class at graduation. Now this was no small crowd in itself given that my graduating class was over 400 students, but when you add in friends and family, it would have to be the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken to. Ever since I’d attended a Central High graduation in 10th grade, I couldn’t wait until it was my turn!! They do this thing at the end where they march out of their seats into this swirl that just goes around and around until finally…whoosh…all the graduation caps go up into the air and the whole building erupts!! It’s an amazing experience! I haven’t been to a Central graduation in years, but I hope they still do that.
One of my biggest regrets from this portion of my life was not leaving the nest for college. Although I had toured many different colleges out of state and even spent overnights with friends in their college dorms in state, I made the financial decision to stay home and attend UALR once I got a surprise letter telling me that I had been selected for Chancellor’s Leadership Corps- a full 4 year ride complete with a stipend for books and unlimited hours. Free education y’all for whatever I wanted to learn! What an opportunity although I didn’t realize the power in that at that tender ignorant age. Once I realized that any pell grants or additional scholarships I received would come back to me as a change check, it felt like a no-brainer to just go to UALR. I did for a hot minute submit an application for a dorm room to at least stay on campus, but when Mama bought a house pretty much across the street from UALR, that seemed like a frivolous spend as well. I’ll talk more about my college experiences in the 20’s years even though half of that undergrad experience was in the teens.