The 8th grade sweatshirt boycott.

For those who knew me in my middle school days, I was broody and adamant in my disdain for color. As a result, when my class selected a graduation sweatshirt that was only available in blue and yellow, I broke several of my handy dandy erasable pens.

I subsequently decided to channel that frustration into a carefully orchestrated boycott against the brightly colored garment. I got several signatures– two from the Hot Topic aspiring goth girls and one from the North Carolinian, who clearly had been forced to wear a few too many daffodil-covered sundresses in her youth.

And when other girls hesitated to join my boycott, I promised them unlimited access to photocopying of my notes before all of our exams. Frankly, none of them could resist my impeccable adolescent penmanship.

Needless to say, within two days I had half of the class behind me. I was leading my first revolution, and if numbers are indicative of success, I was well on my way to victory. My Bible teacher even referred to me as “a natural born leader… with a penchant for trouble.”

However, I was also a diplomat– concerned that the proponents of color would feel disheartened– and so I opted for a compromise. Instead of offering one sweatshirt option, we could offer two. The price would be a dollar or two more, but it would reduce  drama– in the 8th grade all girls school sense.

I pitched my idea, and it was readily accepted. I then received a note from the aforementioned Bible teacher, which I recently uncovered amidst a collection of home videos I am compiling for my final film project:


When you become a famous senator from New York, you owe me a dinner date. Don’t think I’ll forget about the date or you- the little diplomat that not only could, but would make a difference.


Mrs. S–

Yes, back in 8th grade, I was certain I wanted to be a senator. And when people challenged by CSPAN obsession, I shot them the uncaffeinated glare. I was determined, motivated, and “a natural born leader.” I was capable of conquering the Capitol.

Now on the brink of graduation– and having completed my senior thesis (!)– I no longer aspire to be in the political limelight. And I no longer lead boycotts regarding graduation outerwear.

This is not to say I am a follower. But I have learned to pick my battles; to apply my diplomatic tendencies to more important issues, such as apartment price and salary contract negotiations. It’s a mark of adulthood. Or, perhaps, a sign of my budding sanity. Regardless, it is gratifying to know I have begun the process of differentiating the trees from the forest.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the 8th grade boycott outcome, I purchased a black and gray sweatshirt.


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