“Sweet 15” is a series of posts written by past participants of the Distinguished Young Women/Junior Miss program reflecting on their 15-year-old selves. Get ready for some wise, witty and seasoned advice from women of all ages and backgrounds. They have gained perspective on their teenage years from diverse life experiences and will share with you through this fun new series!
By Kelli Croyle
America’s Junior Miss 2005
Being fifteen can be quite intimidating. As one of the youngest students walking the halls of a fairly large high school, I would often find myself feeling inadequate or out of place. During the first day of class, I found out very quickly that it wasn’t the “cool” thing to do to answer questions in class, show concern about grades, and strive to be your very best. If you did these things, you were suddenly tagged the teacher’s pet. Not only was I picked on for being the teacher’s pet, I always made sure I spoke to those who were not considered part of the “cool” crowd. Often those peers were either physically disabled or part of the special needs classroom. I made a conscious effort to befriend every one; especially those who were shunned by the majority of their peers. One day, however, I experienced the very opposite. In a lunchroom full of students, primarily juniors and seniors, I found myself humiliated and lying face down on the cafeteria floor. Unfortunately, my fall was not an accident. My fall was intentionally caused by a student. In the heat of the moment, I felt myself demoralized wishing I could run straight home. Picking myself up, humiliated beyond words, I walked back to my seat.
From my point of view, being driven and ambitious is exactly the way a teen should be. Among all of the things you should concern yourself with; it should most definitely be success in school. I entered my freshman year with high hopes of something new. I was actually “growing up”. After all, I would be driving by the end of the year. I was no longer in middle school. I was part of something bigger and better. Little did I know, it would sweep me off my feet, and I would be lying on my face feeling inadequate and just not good enough? To be quite candid, especially looking back on it as I watch my 17-month-old son run around my living room, I was EXACTLY who I needed to be. I was driven, eager to learn, ambitious, and most importantly, who I wanted to be. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. I could not agree more.
I want to encourage you to define who you are, be who you are, and never question it. Be confident in what you have to offer the world. Each and every person has something special to make this world a better place. Walk the halls of your high school with confidence and high expectations for yourself. In the end, it will be much more beneficial than being part of the “cool” crowd.
Kelli Croyle is an honors grad with a BA in mass communications from Bellhaven University. She is a certified Pilates instructor and resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with husband, Brodie, and son, Sawyer. Originally from Mississippi, Kelli represented her state during the 2005 America’s Junior Miss National Finals and was named America’s Junior Miss that year, the program is now known as Distinguished Young Women.