You guys are familiar with #tbt, right?
Throwback Thursday, they call it.
I call it brace-myself-Thursday.
It happens on Instagram and Facebook. People you haven't talked to in 20 years post pictures and tag you and when that little red flag comes up in the top right corner of the Facebook app on your phone, you die just a little, because you don't know... is this good or bad?
Will I momentarily be sending a message begging for an untag? Or will I wish I was still that thin?
I couldn't get a couple of pictures old high school friends posted last week off my mind.
I think when I look at these pictures, I'm barely recognizable.
But, I love them both.
Bear with me.
I believe this is 1994.
It appears we are having some sort of Valentine's Day party.
This is the JV and Varsity cheerleaders of Indian River High School, sitting on the floor of our coach's classroom.
I'm third from the left, in all my Freshman glory. In a vest and what I do believe may be a bodysuit. Unconfirmed that Chrischa, to my left (who I was undoubtedly sitting next to because she was wearing Pumas and was insanely cool and I looked up to her so much) is making that face because of my bodysuit.
A couple hours later, this #tbt picture surfaced:
Alpha was a community service club at school. We did nice things for people, and visited churches, and wore tinsel on our heads sometimes, and handed out candy at school. We were a club of the pretty, popular girls, with some normal girls sprinkled in there. We were tight.
I've looked back at these pictures several times over the last week, squinting to see the details. Thinking hard to remember that awkward girl with the dark hair.
I think 20 years gets you just far enough away from that girl that it gives you eyes to see her from the outside.
Not from her perspective, but from the perspective of now.
I can't stop squinting.
I had a great high school experience, thanks in part to the girls and the experiences in these two pictures. By the skin of my teeth, I made it into both of these two groups. I would spend those two years feeling like I didn't quite belong, but thankful to be there. Like at any moment I would be publicly outed for not being as cool as everyone else.
But I got in, thank God. I never would have if I hadn't laid it on the line. If I hadn't tried out for cheering, and had to go out there and do my little routine a second time, because the scores were that tight.
If I hadn't sat through those Alpha interviews in the cafeteria, totally stressing out that I was running out of floral things to wear that weren't technically from the right stores, but were close.
I made it in because I was vulnerable enough to try.
A couple of years later, I got to be on the other side. Not saying I was ever the coolest girl in school. I definitely was not. But I ended up being head captain of the cheerleaders and Courtney was Alpha President, and I was her Veep, and like most Veeps, I did nothing.
And by then, it was all argyle and plaid, not florals. And we had plenty of the right clothes and didn't fear being found out.
I miss high school.
But, I don't miss the dark hair days of fear.
I miss the blonde days, when we were on top of the world.
The other thing these two pictures make me realize is how grateful I am that my mom pulled me aside on family vacation in between my Sophomore year and Junior year, and taught me how to rock a box of Clairol Hairpainting. Highlights equal confidence.