Pleated navy blue skirt below your knees, ribbed royal blue socks above your knees, tie six inches long, hair tied back at all times and no makeup.
Why would I ever disobey my secondary school uniform guide? Me, the 12-year-old, who’s most rebellious behaviour was staying up 10 minutes past curfew on a Sunday evening to watch Heartbeat.
The word rebel was so lost in my perfect vocabulary; those two vowels and three consonants reflected nothing in my childhood. Be polite to your elders, check. Play with the smelly kid at school (occasionally), check. Pass all exams and homework, check. On paper I was the result of pushy parents, who ran an army-style operation out of our modest detached home in Lancashire.
However, in reality, I was the opposite. Brought up in an atmosphere filled with happiness and laughter, shared with my many siblings, family and friends. I was encouraged to do what I loved, rewarded when I succeeded and consoled if I ever failed. Why did I ever need to rebel? I was given enough freedom and room to explore my life boundaries, or so I thought.
But there has always been one saying that has haunted my content soul… ‘Why be a sheep when you can be a shepherd?’ Up until the age of twelve I always was this sheep, cringe worthy fur-lined coats to match. I did not need to ever go against the grain, my inner circle of friends were a sanctuary of perfect moments that have turned into lifetime memories. My mum bought all of my clothes that turned out to be classic staples of that era, from flared jeans to dungarees, always steering clear of ostentation.
Moving to ‘big school’ as my middle class town aptly coined it was about to shake up my whole life and steady routine, as I knew it. There were so many shepherds walking the corridors, who was this coy sheep supposed to follow? I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t stylish. I would watch the ‘mean girls’ of the school congregate around the lockers flaunting their ignorance of the school uniform rules, while the punks walked past with their accessorized blazers and eccentric rucksacks who in turn got mocked by the sports teams and their fresh, athletic look.
It was at this time I began to get slightly bullied, as I was an easy target, a plain-Jane, who did not belong to any subculture. I realized I had to make a change and start paving my own life path, ignoring family influences and peer pressure, to stop following trends and make my own decisions. This was, and still is, the most rebellious thing I have ever done in my life; I rebelled against myself and the norm that I had always followed.
I wish now I could say my rebellion soared and I created an entirely new subculture. But I didn’t, I simply found uniqueness inside myself. I still don’t stand out from a crowd but rebellion is what you make of it.