Show and Tell Tuesday: High School Me

Today I’m linking up at Momfessionals for Show and Tell Tuesday! It’s alllll about high school today which is such a super-fun topic, right?!?!

If y’all look at my blog and think “dang she takes a ton of pics of her kids” then you won’t be too shocked to find out that I’ve always taken a ton of pictures. I’ve been toting a camera in my purse since middle school (and keep in mind I didn’t have a digital camera until freshman year of college!!!). So this post was a lot of fun for me…lots of going through old pictures and having great memories…and a chance to bust out the scanner πŸ™‚

If I had to describe who I was in high school I’d say that I was a good person, who made mostly good choices but who didn’t have Jesus. Kye talks a lot about how we need to especially help the nice people who don’t know Jesus and I agree. I think there are LOTS of people like I was in the world today. I knew right from wrong, I usually chose right, but there wasn’t a higher power leading me in those choices. I look back at myself and know my heart was open for the Lord, I just needed someone to share Him with me. I think of several people who helped plant those seeds that would eventually get watered and I’m thankful for those influences in my life πŸ™‚

I graduated in 2003…which to me doesn’t sound like it was long ago and then I realize it’s now 2015 and I have a six year old haha. 

My family moved to the Atlanta area when I was 4 and the summer prior to my freshman year in high school my mom (and step-dad at the time) moved my brother and I back to Satellite Beach, Florida where most of my mom’s family lived. At first in my 8th grader mind I just thought “pool in our backyard, days at the beach, cute surfer boys!” It didn’t really sink in the realness of it until my dad found out the news. He lived just 45 min away from us and we saw him on a very regular basis. I will never forget the look in his eyes when my mom told him and I said right then that I wasn’t leaving. I wanted to stay with him and not move. After a lot of discussion it was decided for me to move with my mom and brother and give it a try for one year. It’s a total side note but why are kids at such young ages allowed to have a say in such a HUGE decision regarding their custody?!?! It was a LOT for 14/15 year old me to have to handle. 

I was excited to start at my new school and surprisingly wasn’t nervous. I remember feeling so confident and eager to be the “new girl.” I walked up to everyone I met with a smile and introduced myself. I never sat alone at lunch or hid in a corner. I threw my full self into this new situation and didn’t hold back. As an adult looking back I’m proud of that confidence and it’s something I hope I can instill in my children as well. Being 14, moving to a new town, and starting a new high school could have been really hard for me but I really embraced it!

Unfortunately, it ended up being an extremely difficult year. One that defines so much of me today and so many of the personal struggles I’ve dealt with. My mom and I’s relationship really took a toll and I also went through the experience what we now would call “cyber bullying.” Of course at that time there wasn’t such a thing! When I printed off over 60 pages of typed threats from my email (the sentence “You will die” over and over) and called the police they struggled to do anything about it. It was just too new of a thing! I was even still forced my one of my teachers to sit beside the person causing me the pain in one of my classes. Several of the boys joined in on his meanness towards me. I remember watching Moby Dick in a class and a kid saying “hey look it’s Emily, the beached whale” and random kids I didn’t know would walk up to me and hand me pictures of whales. Fun right?

The bullying situation is something I still just don’t have clarity about. I was very good friends with this boy and we hung out all the time, talked on the phone all the time, and as an adult looking back I think it’s safe to say we had crushes on each other? I have no clue what lead to that switch being flipped and it going so, so wrong but it was one of the most painful experiences I’ve had. Especially because I never got that closure or understanding behind what made it all happen. He knew everything about me including my biggest fears, insecurities and my deepest thoughts and used it all against me to hurt me. Three years later he did contact me and we started talking again and he apologized but never could explain to me the reasons behind it. I ran into him several years ago with Zach and even though my husband is like legit 2 feet taller than he is, I still got that anxiety nervous feeling in my gut seeing him. 

Even though it was a very difficult year for me for several reasons, I did make some wonderful friendships. Autumn dealt with a lot of bullying too due to her friendship with me and I felt horrible guilt for leaving her when I did decide to move back in with my dad at the end of that school year. 

Deciding to move back to Georgia was SUCH a hard decision. I was 15! That’s a big decision for a 15 year old to have to make. Being pulled between your parents isn’t easy. I remember I ran for a position on the student government towards the end of my freshman year. I decided if I won that I’d stay and if I lost then I’d move. Not only did I lose but the “bully crew” defaced my posters that I’d put up around the school. The issues at school combined with issues at home made it an easier decision, although I will never forget how hard I sobbed the entire flight when I left. 

Even though it was a hard choice, it’s one I’m truly so thankful I made. My entire life today would be different had I stayed in Florida. I do not think my heart would have been as open to finding Christ. I have no clue what path I would have gone down. I feel like I was headed towards a path of rebelliousness due to strains in my home and could have easily fallen in with the “wrong crowd” based on my isolation at school regarding the bullying. Whereas moving in with Dad allowed my true self to really blossom and opened the door for my deepest friendships and ultimately meeting my husband! Looking back on that decision I believe firmly that God’s hand was all over it even though I may not have realized it at the time!

After moving away, I still stayed extremely close to my cousin Jonathan. If I had to say who my closest friend has been for the longest period of my life I’d say it was him. I miss him so much and love the memories we shared together. We were always our truest selves and that was a blessing. It was hard for me to leave him when I moved as it was also very hard to leave my brother. My brother is three years younger than me and even though we lived 8 hours apart, we actually grew closer when I moved. He’d come visit and stay with me and I think our distance allowed us to have a friendship rather than a sibling rivalry that we’d have if we’d shared the same home during the teenage years.

Mountain Dew toasts on my 16th birthday! 

My brother and I

When I first moved in with my dad I was planning to attend another new school. He lived 45 min away from the town I grew up in (Lawrenceville) so I planned on attending the school where I was zoned from his house (North Hall High). We went and toured it and found out that my Spanish 1 from my freshman year wouldn’t count. We also were pretty freaked by the experience (now that I live in the rural south I laugh b/c I was thrown off by their school pride in their tractor and agriculture classes but down here that’s common too!) so we ultimately decided to enroll me in the high school where I would have gone if my mom hadn’t moved to Florida (Central Gwinnett High School). It meant I got to be the “new girl” but with old friends πŸ™‚ It was a pretty awesome gift to miss out on 9th grade. SO much drama happens in 9th grade so lots of “bffs” were broken up and I was able to come in in 10th grade and still be friends with everyone without having to go through all of that mess πŸ˜‰ 

It was a tad tricky living so far from school. My dad worked near my school so he made the commute every day anyway but the time period after school until he was off work was a bit of a mess as was also times when he had to travel for business. My cousin, Michele, lived with us for a while as my “nanny” of sorts. She took care of me when he was gone and drove me to and from school and introduced me to the world of cult movies which forever shaped my entertainment preferences πŸ˜‰ 

Once I could drive myself it was just silly to be driving 45 min one way each day to school then 45 min back to home and then often be there without my dad due to his business trips. He lived in the middle of the woods and that junk freaked me out! Ultimately I ended up moving into “my apartment” as we called it (more on that here!). I lived there from the time I was about 16 until I went off to college. My dad would stay there with me sometimes but I was mostly on my own. 

The cool thing about the “apartment” was that it was the basement of a house in the neighborhood where I grew up so it was not only in a area where I felt at home but it also meant reuniting with my childhood best friend, Michelle. We met when I was in kindergarten when she moved 2 houses down from me. She was like a sister to me and I was so thankful to be reunited with her. I spent many nights at her house while living in the apartment and drove her to school every day!

I have SO many great memories from high school. I know a lot of people say they are so thankful to be past the high school days, but I truly enjoyed it (side note but I also loved middle school.  I think I just love school in general). Looking back at these photos with so many wonderful friends brings a smile to my face! It’s so neat to me that I’m still friends with so many people who were a part of my life back then, and even funnier that I’m actually better friends with some people from high school than I was with them when we were in high school!

Rachael is one of those closer-now-than-then friends πŸ™‚

The two guys on the ends (Bryan and Jared) are a big reason I ended up meeting Zach

as was Scott (on the far right). I had NO CLUE then that my guy friends through school would be the ones to introduce me to my husband πŸ™‚ Bryan and Jared had bowling class in college (yes, bowling class in college) with Zach and were the ones who introduced us on the night we met. Scott played football with Zach (and they became good friends) and he also played a role by telling Zach about me prior to us meeting. It’s so neat how my choice to move in with my dad lead to being reconnected with the people who would eventually introduce me to my husband! 

Even though I lived pretty much alone and pretty much unsupervised, I never skipped school. I never even thought about skipping. I continued to make great grades and graduated towards the top of my class with honors. I also was involved in school. I was in many clubs (my favorite being president of Latin Club haha) and was well liked by my teachers and my peers. The days of bullying were no longer a problem and I felt at home. I’m so, so thankful all the cards fell the way they did and that I ended up where I ended up for school. I wasn’t a perfect teenager, of course, but I was a pretty dang good one πŸ˜‰ 

If you haven’t noticed already…I took pictures AT SCHOOL with my camera. I mean how hilarious is that?!? You wonder why I have zero shame in busting out my Nikon at Publix to take a pic of my kids πŸ˜‰ I have like a billion random pics like these from school! How did no one ever make fun of me for that?!?! 

Zach and I often talk about my class from school and just how good everyone was. I know some kids did drugs (and many of them are the ones who still, sadly, do) but overall we were just good kids! I never felt pressured once to do anything bad. I remember a couple times some people asking about partying at my apartment and I just said no. I was never even offered a cigarette. I was very close to someone who did use drugs (I know people say “just pot” but to me getting high is still getting high and it’s still a drug!!! Ugh don’t get me started) and it took a big toll on a lot of my high school experience. I was always passionately anti-drugs but that made me even more hardcore about it. t wasn’t purely innocent or anything, but I know most people will tell you their high school experience was much, much worse as far as worldliness. I did drink a few times but nothing wild and especially given the amount of freedom I had, I think I was a pretty well behaved kid πŸ™‚  Maybe I’m also just remembering things through rose colored glasses but I don’t really remember there being a ton of drama or anything either. For the most part I felt like people were nice to each other and that we were a pretty close group of kids, even for a class of over 500 graduates. 

I ran twice for student government treasurer and lost both times. I think I just wanted it too badly and tried too hard for it. I mean I put a poster on every single locker haha. I was a bit intense (shocked?). Not Reese Witherspoon Election style intense but still probably a bit much πŸ˜‰ I also reaaaaallly wanted Best Dressed but lost that too. I really am impressed at my confidence in myself through school and hope that’s something my children will also have. I ran for student government three out of my four years and lost every time but kept running. I think sometimes high school Emily was more confident than 30 year old Emily is! I mean you gotta be pretty confident to auction for The Real World right? πŸ˜‰

I had many sweet friends through the years who planted those Godly seeds within me but I had two teachers who were especially influential on my life. I was a good student who truly enjoyed school work (aka NERD!) and I bonded with most of my teachers, but especially Mr. Coleman and Mrs. McLocklin. Mr. Coleman was awesome. He was my Latin teacher (hence why I was Latin Club President) and he referred to me as his Regina Latina (a nickname he later passed on to my childhood bff, Michelle). I think I had like a 100 as a final grade in his class, it was the one class I always really looked forward to. I mean I don’t remember much as far as Latin is concerned but it was fun πŸ™‚ 

Mrs. McLocklin was truly an angel in my life. I went back to visit her while in college and was so eager to tell her I had been baptized and to introduce her to Zach. She taught home ec type classes. Foods class was one I remember taking and I still have the recipe cards we did (and I use them in cooking for my family). I remember her talks about finding a spouse and her suggestions really stuck with me. I wrote a few essays about her and our bond and actually ended up winning several scholarships to help pay my way through college thanks to those essays. I am thankful for her influence and pray that her life has brought her nothing but joy!

Being torn between living with my mom or my dad was a tough call but I’m thankful for the time my dad and I were able to spend together throughout my high school years. I may not have technically lived with him, but I went to his house pretty much every weekend. We’d also go out to dinner a lot together during the weeks. We went to concerts and to movies and just had a lot of quality time. I get my love of travel from my dad and will be forever grateful for the many trips we took during my childhood and teenage years. How many people can say they’ve been to Hawaii twice when they are 18? Such a fun experience and something I’ll never forget! My dad traveled a LOT when I was a kid and I don’t have a ton of childhood day-to-day type memories with him. And when I left for college we also drifted where we just don’t see each other or talk that often. Those three years in high school were the closest we’ve ever been (and, I assume, will probably be) and I will always cherish that time and be thankful for it. 

My brother visited often and my mom and I would also visit each other on a regular basis. She’d come up for my birthdays and big school functions to show her support. I would go to visit her during the summers and every Spring Break. Although I know right now our relationship is one where we can’t be together in any form, I do think our distance and space during my high school years allowed our relationship to remain intact during that time. My freshman year was rough with us and the remaining years of high school our relationship was much, much better thanks to that distance. 

I love this picture…it’s a rare one of the four of us. It was my 18th birthday and we randomly bought Harry Potter glasses to wear πŸ™‚

While I had a lot of different friends in high school, I was basically that girl who was obsessed with her boyfriend. Mark and I met my sophomore year and went on our first date (ice skating which is SO RANDOM) and were inseparable after that. He may remember things differently and may have regrets about our very intertwined high school experiences, but I don’t really. I will encourage my children to have less serious relationships at that young of an age if possible (My parents did a GREAT job of not pushing their opinions about our relationship on me. I didn’t know their concerns until after we had broken up!) as I do think I would have had closer friendships and more fun memories that weren’t wrapped up in him if we hadn’t been so serious. But he was my best friend and so when I look back at those memories with him I don’t really think about it as a boy I loved and a relationship that ended, but as my best friend who I hung out with all the time. We were that couple who fought a lot and broke up and made up and had drama and I wish I could go back and not have all of that but I think a lot of those struggles helped me to see things I’d need in a future spouse and helped shape me into the wife I’d ultimately become. We had one of those instant connections and were a security blanket of comfort for each other for a long time. With my tough family situations during that time in my life I was dealing with a lot and he was a constant that I could always count on which I really needed. I know I was there for him in many ways too and I hope his memories are happy ones of our time together. I am very thankful that God helped guide me away from that relationship as we were very much better as friends than as a romantic couple. 

This isn’t a particularly cute picture or anything but it’s DISNEY so it had to be included!

It was just the two of us most of the time. We hung out every day after school. I spent a lot of time at his house. My apartment didn’t have an oven so I’d eat dinner there a lot of nights (his mom made THE best tacos). I adored his little sister and truly loved her like my own sister. We also had a great group of friends and did a lot of things with them too. I have great memories at Lake Lanier Islands and at concerts and haunted houses and times at my Dad’s on the lake. We haven’t spoken since Zach and I started to get serious but I hope he reflects back on our relationship and sees the positive ways we influenced each other and helped to guide each other on our own individual paths for the better. 

We also attended all the dances together! We didn’t start dating until after homecoming Sophomore year (which I didn’t attend) so we only had 4 dances together:

Junior Homecoming

Junior Prom

Senior Homecoming

Senior Prom

Of all the years in high school, senior year was my favorite. Mark and I were broken up for most of that year so it was a time that I really formed super strong friendship outside of my friendship with him (although he remained my best friend for most of that year) and flirted with a lot of boys πŸ˜‰ It was more of a true high school experience for me and I’m thankful for it. He and I did attend Senior Prom as dates but we were just friends at that time. We ended up having a HUGE falling out (like everyone watching in the halls type throw down bahaha) post prom and didn’t speak again until the end of that summer. While it was a painful experience for me, I’m also thankful for that time completely separated from him as it helped me to really grow on my own and allowed me to meet new people and experience new things that lead me to where I am today. 

The summer after my senior year was THE BEST. Zach and I often talk about this because it was his favorite time too. We both had awesome friendships and made a ton of memories! I know I felt like I never slept. I had my crew and we did our thing all summer. Lazy days at the pool or the lake, late nights talking and laughing. Just being silly and young and fun. I’m thankful I had that break from the intensity of my relationship and that I had the chance to spend quality time with friends. 

Some of the best nights were sleepovers at Danielle’s!

This was my core crew that summer! I’m pretty sure Danielle had a full on closet in her trunk b/c she’d spend the night with me so much. And Tyler was one lucky guy getting to hang with three ladies all the time, huh? πŸ˜‰

I found this and had to post it for one reason: MY PHONE. This just shows my age!!! That Nokia rocking the Roxy case. Classssic

I did end up meeting and dating someone that summer. It was a short-lived relationship which I ended up ending because I started talking to Mark again. We just had one of those bonds that was hard for me to break away from fully. I’m very thankful for the short time I dated Jacob. He was a REALLY good guy (and I’m assuming he still it as he married a really great girl!) and showed me that I was capable of being cared for by someone so nice and purely good. I’m big about looking back and seeing God’s purpose in things and I believe, for me, that’s what that relationship’s purpose was. I may have ended up back with my high school boyfriend after our short relationship, but I still learned and grew a lot and I think I was ultimately made ready to meet my husband thanks to that short period of dating Jacob. 

When I left for college Mark and I started “dating” again. It was a “secret” I guess and it was also mega long distance so it was really more of just our friendship connected and us calling it a relationship than an actual relationship. We stayed in that weird limbo up until the second semester of my freshman year when I randomly met Zach and the game totally changed πŸ™‚ 

This high school football star didn’t know what was coming his way πŸ˜‰ 

(Sidenote: Mr. Rusty has gotten way more attractive as he’s aged right?!?!)

When I read through my high school yearbooks at the messages left by others I can see the way people viewed High School Me. The #1 thing people would say about me is about my honesty. I’ve just always been transparent. A lot of people find that humorous for some reason which I’ve never really understood? And while I am glad I’m open and true to myself and express my personal opinions freely (I assume it’s why people like the blog? Anyone who reads it truly knows the REAL me!) I am also embarrassed by elements of that reputation. 

First off I’m embarrassed that I used to speak my mind a little too freely. I struggled with a lack of tact and it’s something I’ve had to really work on over the years. I think it’s going to always be a struggle for me. I will leave a conversation and worry if I said something wrong. It’s okay to be honest and open and share my opinion but there is a way to do it nicely πŸ˜‰ Like if someone says “do you like my shirt?” and I don’t like it I don’t have to say “omg that shirt is butt ugly” I can instead say “well it’s not my style!” Often times people tend to say “this is who I am just deal with it” and I don’t believe that. Yes, being bluntly honest IS who I am. But through God’s grace I’m able to grow and work on that aspect of myself. I’m far from perfect in it but I think having a public blog has helped b/c whhhhhew you can ruffle some feathers super easily! 

I never fully realized another aspect of my high school self that I’m not proud of until I watched this past season of The Bachelorette (oh life lessons learned from The Bachelor franchise bahah). I watched Kaitlyn with her rather crude humor and openness with her sexuality and I realized that’s the girl I was. Yes, I was a good girl overall but I didn’t have the mouth of one. Much like Kaitlyn I made sexual jokes when uncomfortable. I wasn’t a “slut” or anything (hello one boyfriend through all of high school ha!) but I just was overtly sexual. My upbringing was one where sexuality wasn’t something that was kept private. I grew up knowing a lot at a young age regarding such things and just felt comfortable talking and joking about such topics. I was the girl in sex-ed who would raise my hand and ask all the questions the other girls were too shy to ask.  While it’s not wrong to be in touch with our sexuality, it’s wrong to display it publicly. It’s something meant to only share with our spouses and that’s something I really didn’t know until I read the Bible for the first time at age 19. I knew right from wrong in a LOT of areas but that’s the one that I really was very naive about. 

I’ve said things that make me cringe to think about and it’s a part of myself that I really had to work on when I came to know Christ. I’m so thankful that most people reading this don’t remember that side of me at all. I know when my children become teenagers it’s going to be so hard for me as a parent because my own parents weren’t super involved in my raising at that age. I pray I can guide them on a path of righteousness and that they can benefit from my shortcomings during that period in my life. I am so thankful they will have Christ’s example to follow! As for Kaitlyn…after realizing my similarities with her during her season I also took out my nose ring that I’ve had for the past 13 years haha. Thanks Kaitlyn πŸ˜‰ 

It was so fun looking back at all my high school memories today! I have some regrets in some areas but overall I’m truly thankful for my experiences and for how they helped shape the me I am now. I dealt with a lot at a young age and always looked at my struggles as an opportunity to overcome. Overall, I’m pretty proud of High School Me πŸ™‚ And I mean who doesn’t love an excuse to post a professional studio portrait of themselves with their dog?!?!

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