The year? 1994. The place? Jenison Junior High.

The summer before entering junior high was filled with non-stop Ace of Base (I saw the sign), Boyz II Men (I’ll make love to you), and All-4-One (I swear). It was as much about the music of the summer as it was about the friends I spent each day and night with. We daydreamed about the new ‘big’ school–about whether we’d get lost–and most importantly, if we’d be able to get our lockers open.

All 85 pounds of me was determined to take the school by storm. I planned my first day of school outfit for weeks. I knew who I’d walk to school with–and what I’d eat for lunch.

The first few weeks of school far exceeded my expectations. It was ‘like, so cool!’ meeting new friends, and decorating the inside of my locker.

Then something horrible happened. Something that irrevocably changed my junior high experience forever: cheerleading tryouts.

It sounded innocent enough–and all my friends were doing it. I didn’t let the simple fact that I could not clap in rhythm, that I had no idea what a herkie was, or that I would rather cry than do the splits stop me, I went ahead and tried out.

Well, you know how this goes. I didn’t make the team. My friends did. This in itself would have been bad enough, except for the fact that this was also the week that I had run for student government–and had not been elected.

It was a no-good, very-bad week. It was a week that I can still, 15 years later recall the raw emotion. I can remember questioning how I would go on–how I would face the humiliation that I felt burn in my cheeks as I had to face my peers in the hallway.

That week in 1994 didn’t kill me–and I’m sure that this no-good, very-bad week won’t either. My exterior may have changed, but on the inside, it seems as though I’m still that 13 year old girl that just wants to be accepted.