Girls, Girls, Girls?

Jay-Z may have had all of the ladies

before he got together with and married Beyonce’. However, school wasn’t exactly the time where I had the ladies, or really lady friends.

I had crushes, an elementary school romance, and even my first love (yes I believe you can fall in love without dating.). It was a number of years where I thought I wasn’t good looking or suave enough to have the woman I desired. Certain women crushed on me, but I didn’t see them in that way.

One quote that really got me was in my junior year in high school when this gal said all in front of me “dang there isn’t any good looking guys in our grade.” Now how the heck is that supposed to make me feel?

Looking back, I realize I may have been going for the wrong type of women or woman. And again we didn’t really have biracial women at Blacksburg High School (my know-it-all grandma suggested I go this route). The ones we had were attractive, intelligent and cool, but were simply friends.

I did have a few female friends that dug me and are still cool with me today. If you are reading this, thanks for seeing in myself then what I was blind to. It would pay huge dividends later.

Fortunately, high school does end, I got out of Blacksburg, and saw that it was indeed a different world out there for guys like myself that didn’t peak in high school.

#imjustdrew

Senior Year Part 1

Some of these years are so extensive I had to break them up into sections for myself and you the reader.

This was when I really began to shine and not everyone was on board. I got my first job at Hardee’s and had my own spending money. Still no car or a girlfriend (more on that later) which was embarrassing as a high school senior. However I made the best of it as I knew I would be out of there in a year.

Folks often say your senior year flies by. Ironically, I didn’t want that to happen to me. I cherished each moment, especially with my friends and doing activities.

I was involved not only with football, I was becoming active in my church, several other school activities, and was becoming a positive role model for the elementary school children. Overall, I had an awesome senior year. I made good grades, showed my worth on the gridiron, and received a Senior Superlative for “Hardest Worker.”  I had become more popular than ever. For the first time in my life, I was liked and hated.

There were a lot of jealous people that tried to make my life and year a living Hell. I didn’t get invited to a lot of the parties and activities the “in-crowd” had on the weekends. You could say me and some others were part of the “out crowd.” 

My late friend Tim told me “Drew you don’t have anything to prove. Just be you man.” He was another awesome friend among many that lasted a lifetime. Now while there was nothing left to prove except to get into college and earn a scholarship, I was determined to roll with the punches and have a good senior year. I had demons yet to face and overcome.

#imjustdrew

The Butterfly Is Here!

Between sophomore year of high school and junior year really transformed me, and of course I’m not just talking about the culmination of puberty. The cocoon had broken, and now I was a social butterfly.

I look back now and it’s hard to believe how it happen, and that I have maintained it for over 20 years.

Well I was preparing for my first season of varsity football, determined to show I was tough and could play with the big boys. I worked my tail off in the weight room, got into better shape, and learned more about the game. I was gonna shine, even if I didn’t see much playing time due to a large and talented senior class.

Also, I spent six weeks at the Upward Bound program at USC-Upstate (then USC-Spartanburg). That program, along with football, allowed me the opportunity to become more social with a different crowd, prepared me for life after high school, and showed me another world outside of my small hometown. I was a new young man indeed. More confidence, swagger, and simply more driven.

I returned to Blacksburg High in the fall of 1994 for my junior year on a mission. To achieve as highly as I could, and be my best self. My grades improved dramatically, I was much more social and less anxious, and I was known on the football team for my hard work and determination. I didn’t see the field much, but one game I did and the student section chanted “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!” , reminiscent of the sports movie classic Rudy. He never gave up in life and neither did I. I even received Defensive Player Of The Week for that game, despite playing only two series.

Things were sky high for me. I still had insecurities regarding the ladies and not yet having my own vehicle. However, I was more popular in school than I had ever been. This was one of the best years of my entire life, and served as a springboard for the future.

#imjustdrew

High School: Prelude to a Socialite

My high school years (grades 9-12) were when I came out of my shell and became the socialite I am now. 9th grade was probably the toughest year, and then 10th grade was when things started turning around.

OK let’s go back to how my summers in the country typically were. I usually didn’t see many kids from my school except at the local creek or in Vacation Bible Church. I didn’t spend the night away from home until the summer before seventh grade. A couple of summers later, I went on a church camping trip.

But the year 1993 was when the cocoon was developing internally and starting to break.

Not only did my mother get married and moved us into a new home, I stayed in a hotel for the first time in my life (yes I was sheltered just in case you’re just catching up) as I went with the FFA to the state convention at Clemson University. That was a fun few days that gave me more experience and confidence. Also that was the year I decided to give football a try. That was hands down probably the best decision I made during my high school football years.

This meant that during that summer, I would see more of my classmates/teammates as I trained at the school in the weight room for the upcoming season. This was obviously much different than playing in the yard and woods or sitting on the couch watching TV reruns.

My first year on the junior varsity squad was quite a learning experience. I haven’t ever been a good athlete (and I particularly wasn’t then). I had to learn how to channel my aggression and learn the game. Football was much more than Techmo Super Bowl, and I would need to focus more harder if I were to be better, and eventually earn playing time.

Nonetheless, my confidence and morale were both growing and peaking properly. I was now in a good position for what the remainder of high school, and life, had for me.

#imjustdrew

Junior High/Early High School: A Change Is Coming

OK after a week off, let’s continue the story of how I overcame obstacles throughout life and gained my social status.

First, I must give a shout out to my late friend Marcus Austin (more about him in later entries). Mark, like many others after high school, didn’t understand my relentless determination, the refusal to return to Blacksburg without proving myself and others wrong. R.I.P. brother, hard to believe you have been gone nine years. This portion is probably the one I would have highlighted as one of the defining moments in my coming of age.

It was between seventh and ninth grade where I made more friends, smarter friends, and more enemies and haters. I was in honors classes, still in my awkward phase, and puberty was raining down on me like an avalanche. The worst part of all was being in class with some of the very same folks that thought I was beneath them in every way. They didn’t believe a biracial, poor child should be outsmarting them in the classroom and neither did their parents. I was once again alienated but motivated to succeed.

I met some awesome teachers in high school, ones that really nourished my gifts and saw I was headed places. One of the main ones was my seventh grade math teacher and guidance counselor Billy Transou. This man came from privilege, but understood the common student. He stood up for me and helped me whenever he could, even after I graduated. I could go to him with pretty much any problem. Now my mother was still around making sure no bullies were a problem. It also helped us that I had an awesome principal named Mr. James Leigh. His late wife, Beverly, was my sixth grade language arts teacher. I had a few friends and these people in my corner, so thus I was positioned correctly.

Things took a positive turn once my photographic memory was discovered. I had memorized all of the U.S. Presidents in the fourth grade and nearly everything about them. But when I Iearned and memorized nearly every student schedule in the school, it was life changing. It gave me a reputation and identity that I hadn’t possessed prior. People knew who I was, started to like and respect me, and were wowed for years. It gave me a claim to fame and slowly my cocoon was breaking.

My intellect had now caught up. Now it was time for my grades and social status to follow suit.

#imjustdrew