Growing Up as a Tomboy: The Early Years

I am not a girly girl. There I said it. I never have been and I most likely never will be and I’m ok with that. Some of my experiences growing up as a non-girly girl were positive some not so much.

I love sports, the outdoors, getting muddy and days where I don’t have to do my hair or make-up!

I hate the word ‘tomboy’ but if you met me on the street that’s probably how you would categorise me and classically I grew up with boys and spent a lot of my free time with my older brother and his friends.

When I was really young, we’re talking up until I was about 10, I was like most children – just happy to get on with doing what I wanted to do and not remotely bothered what anyone else thought. I realise that’s probably because most children aren’t socially aware in the sense that they don’t care (or understand) what others think of them or that ‘social norms’ and gender stereotypes even exist. All in all these were generally happy years for me with a few road bumps along the way:

The being Forced to Wear a Skirt Debacle

I could never understand why my mum insisted that I wear a skirt to school every other day when I was in primary school. At this point in my life I had found my first passion in football and was happily living in my own little bubble running around with the boys. On the days that I wore a skirt I was miserable, I wouldn’t play football with all my friends at break time because I was SCARED MY BUM WOULD FALL OUT ??. It’s a little ridiculous now I think about it but back then it was a legitimate problem.

I think my mum was holding onto hope that I would ‘snap out of it’ and come out of the other side of this ‘phase’ of climbing trees and playing football and start acting more like the other little girls. But I didn’t, I’m still well and truly ingrained in that way of life.

You hear A LOT about ‘gender neutral parenting’ nowadays but when I was little it wasn’t really ‘a thing’. Eventually my mum conceded and just let me get on with things in my own way – & while wearing my trousers ??. I’m grateful that she realised I wasn’t happy and rather than trying to force me to play a role I didn’t fit she allowed me to be me. She still tried to encourage me to do ‘girly things’ and ‘dress nicely’ but she let me make my own choices.

Random tangent while were on the subject of clothes. I remember asking my mum to get me something colourful for our summer holiday when I was around 10/11ish. She came home with this t-shirt covered in multi-coloured love hearts with pink frilly sleeves. Imagine my face. I’m going to just leave that one here.

Being Split up from my Friends

At primary school pretty much all of my friends were boys, it wasn’t until I was about 12 when I first had female friends (if you don’t count the girls I played football with). With the start of each school year came new classes and this one particular year my two best friends were put in the other class. I did not take it well. At all.

Call me cynical but I felt like it was a deliberate attempt to try to force me to make new ‘more appropriate’ friends. I completely appreciate that this could have been purely accidental but I doubt it – the class sizes were much smaller than they are now and the teachers know who is friends with who.

Anyway it didn’t work, I still hung around with the same people at break times and little changed.


The School Football Team Incident

Throwback to a summer tournament when I was about 9/10. I would have been playing for the school at this time.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was picked to play football for the boys school team. At the time girls football was nowhere near as popular as it is now. There was only one girls team in my town so you either played for them or you played for a boys team. Today there are teams in most villages which I suppose shows just how far things have come over the past fifteen years or so. But anyway at the time it was pretty unheard of for a girl to be playing with a boys school team and I was there on merit – because I was good enough not because of any political correctness bullshit. It felt good. I was doing what I loved and I was getting recognised because of my ability and not my gender.

Step up Uncle Nobhead. To paraphrase Peter Kay there’s an Uncle Nobhead in every family, he generally talks a right load of crap and exaggerates literally EVERYTHING. I’m sure you’ve got your own Uncle Nobhead in mind. But yeah so I remember him outright telling me that he would keep everyone in the school football team apart from me. I was 9 years old! Imagine saying that to a 9 year old. That kind of crap scars you. This particularly delightful comment could have had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I’m a girl – he could genuinely have not thought that I was good enough but either way I was heartbroken.


The Good Times

Despite all that crap my childhood was pretty awesome. I spent all of my summers in the local park, playing games, climbing trees, riding my bike and generally enjoying myself. Through the winter my Dad would drive me around the county every weekend to play football. I always remember him joking that he thought he would have been driving my brother to football not me (FYI my brothers idea of sport consists of a settee and his Xbox). Having the freedom to do all of these things in my younger years definitely fostered my love for sports and the outdoors and I am so thankful for that. I might have been a very different person had I not had these experiences.

My younger years were great years all in all, you don’t have the same pressure to conform as you do once you hit your teens but there was always that niggling feeling in the back of my head about whether I truly fitted in anywhere.

Well that’s all for today. I’ll pick this back up soon and talk about my teenage years. I definitely have some corkers to share from the Horror of Non-Uniform Days to the Toilet Blunder.

I’m curious to know your experiences growing up and how they have changed who you are today. If anyone feels like sharing please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear you!

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