Middle School Is the Worst (But You’ll Survive)
Indulge me, as I speak directly to my middle schoolers who seem to be in need of some frank preparation for the trials ahead.
So you’re in middle school, those awkward years between childhood and adulthood when neither shoe really fits. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be smelly. It’s going to take more survival skills than an episode of Naked and Afraid. So be prepared, because middle school just might be the worst years of your life for the following reasons:
- You’re going to look and feel awkward. It’s not your fault. All your body parts are developing at different speeds. Huge feet, small arms, and big ears might make you feel like the T-rex in Meet the Robinsons, “I have a big head, but little bitty arms,” but don’t worry they’ll all catch up to each other and even out before it’s all over with.
- You’ll want the responsibility of a child but the respect of an adult. It’s hard to look cool in a bounce house, but you’re going to try. The carefree days of childhood will call to you at the same time the sophistication of adulthood is beckoning. You’re going to walk a fine line, handling some things with the thoughtful maturity of an adult and others with kind of childhood passion that leaves you cryi’n for your Mama.
- You’re going to want to wear really uncomfortable clothes- the tighter the better. You’ll be taking those first tentative steps into finding an identity, trying out different styles and personas. This may include such poor choices as wearing hammer pants, attempting to grow a Fu Manchu, or perhaps sporting rainbow-striped hair. You may be trying makeup for the first time and assume more is better. Or you may be the proud new owner of recently sprouted breasts and desire to show them off. Despite this, you will eventually find a sense of style that suits you and manages to keep the important parts covered.
- You’re going to care too much what your peers think. Ironically, you’ll part ways with most of these influential classmates in high school or shortly there after. Those few you do keep in touch with will eventually find themselves busy with demanding careers and families of their own. But in the meantime, you’re going to let them help you make important life decisions, so choose your friends carefully,
- You’ll suddenly know everything and your parents will know nothing. It’s tough to say why parents go through an intellectual decline at the same time as you’re reaching maturity. Perhaps your hormonal changes trigger some primordial instinct in them that requires they grow increasingly lame as you attain new intellectual heights. Again, don’t worry. You’ll, I mean they’ll, get through this stage. Have a little mercy and let them think their right a few times for the sake of peace.
- Your friends are going to get to do everything before you do, and I do mean everything. Don’t worry though, it’s likely they might regret that unicorn tattoo at some point. Feel free to learn from the mistakes of those who proceed you.
- You’ll smell awful. Blame the hormones again. There’s no amount of Axe body spray that can totally help this one, no matter that you’re walking around in your own greenery-wilting storm cloud of scent. This too shall pass.
- You’re going to feel opposed to everything. It doesn’t matter how fun it is, who asked you, or how nicely they asked, everyone and everything is going to get on your nerves. This includes but is not limited to teachers, siblings, grandparents, friends, the checkout clerk at the grocery store, your rabbi, your Boy Scout leader, newscasters, cartoon characters, strangers on the street, and most certainly your parents. Somewhere rooted in science is a perfectly rational explanation involving hormones and growth cycles, but for now just accept that for the next three years the people in your life will be really really annoying.
Don’t worry, these awkward transition years are a part of growing up. The good thing is they are part of the journey and not the destination. Bad hair styles and poor fashion choices are as much a rite of passage as graduation. One day the photo album will be fodder for family laughs around the dinner table. And while your parents might never be cool, you will one day appreciate their patience and wisdom. Until then, hang on, persevere through and you’re certain to come out the other side of these uncertain times a reasonable well-mannered adult, albeit perhaps a little smarter, a little humbler, and a little more confident of who you are.