Have you ever had to stand up for your rules when they weren’t the majority rules? Think about how you felt. Were you fearful of how others would perceive you? Did you care if you were ostracized?
The 8th grade turned out to be an early defining moment in my life. It all started at the beginning of the school year when I was voted one of the two 8th grade attendants to the school’s homecoming queen. I was excited to represent my class and eagerly looking forward to the Homecoming Coronation. My mom and I had been shopping and I loved the dress we selected for me to wear. Everything was falling into place until the night before the Coronation. At the end of the rehearsal, the teacher reviewed the dress requirements and indicated for the first time that all the attendants and queen were expected to wear stockings with a little pump. I couldn’t believe my ears- “stockings.” In my house, the rule was at thirteen I would begin wearing stockings and that was not happening until January. I did not have any stockings or pumps. In fact in my house, our rule meant I couldn’t meet the school’s requirement.” I waited until the other students left and then approached the teacher to share my situation. She seemed unconcerned and said, “I am sure your mother will understand. I will see you tomorrow night with your stockings and pumps.” I did not leave feeling confident in that happening. My parents were enforcers of the house rules and this was not going to be easy.
Shortly thereafter, my dad picked me up from school and asked, “ how was the rehearsal?” I told him it went well but there was just one potential problem. “What was it ?” he inquired. I responded, “the teacher expects all the attendants and queen to wear stockings with a little pump.” He then looked at me and asked pointedly, “did you tell the teacher about our rule?” I quickly responded “yes.” He said, “then there won’t be a problem.” Just as I thought! Now I could count on my mother reinforcing his position. In fact, she did just that and even took it a step further. “When you come out on the stage, I expect to see you wearing your socks. Don’t let the teachers or other girls tell you to take your socks off and be bare legged- no one will know the difference. We will.” “But mom and dad everyone else will have on stockings and I will stand out like a sore thumb. And I bet some of the kids will laugh at me.” My dad then reminded me of another house rule, we do not let others define our actions. I had heard that enough times before but how could they not see this was going to be embarrassing for me. My mother then went on record pointing out the importance of standing up for your convictions even when it meant being alone. One of my mother’s traits that I could always count on was her clarity in stating expectations. And she did not disappoint. “Patricia, this is a time for you to be bold and demonstrate courage. I expect you to stand tall, hold your head up high and smile regardless of what anyone else says to you.” And when asked “why” aren’t you wearing stockings? you won’t respond “my mom and dad wouldn’t let me”rather, you will say “our house rules are that I will wear stockings when I turn 13 and that will be in January.”
Take a look at the picture that appeared in our local newspaper. While it’s a little tarnished with age, you know which girl is me.
I am standing out- the only girl with socks. Look closely and you will see that I am standing tall, head up high, wearing a big smile. It took courage but I made it through the evening. I look back at this picture as a reminder that sometimes you have to be bold, different, and courageous. You have to stand up for what is important to you even when that means being different from everyone else.