Middle school is one of those things where everyone knows about it, but we never really want to bring it up since it’s just kind of there and better if we left it alone. Well, I honestly would have never thought of writing this letter. The only reason why I’m reaching so far back into my middle school days is because my younger brother has been asking for “middle school advice”.
And so, here I am ready to talk to my middle school self about self-love, confidence, and ambition.
Dear Middle School Kae,
You’re absolutely adorable. You’re fresh out of elementary school, you don’t really know what middle school is, and it’s the first time since kindergarten that your best friend won’t be with you.
You feel sorry for her because she was usually the more quiet one, and making new friends might be tough for her. She’s entire hour away, a whole world away, but that doesn’t stop you from being excited about middle school. And the real twist in this plot? She makes friends perfectly fine while you struggle to even speak a peep.
What you didn’t ever expect, is how scared and shy you’ll become.
In elementary school, you were pretty loud, and you talked whenever the teacher allowed it. But it’s a whole new ball game in middle school. There are going to be people that seem so much more mature, cooler, and older than you. Kids that seemed like they’ve already experienced the whole world while all you’ve done is played ball in front of your house.
You’ll negatively compare yourself to everybody. And quite honestly, you’ll never be completely comfortable in middle school. Your confidence will dip so ridiculously fast, and you’ll become self-conscious of things you never were in the first place.
From your appearance, to your body, and most surprisingly of all: your intelligence, drive, and ambition.
You’re going to learn how to resent your incredibly young appearance. You’re going to try to hide your face, and your posture will continue to be horrendous (which is just what your posture has always been honestly).
And don’t get me started about your body. You’re going to question why everyone else is developing breasts while you still look like your younger brothers. Locker rooms will be slightly mortifying at first-not because you’re showing your naked body off to others for the first time, but because you feel like you have no body to show.
The only reason why you even have a training bra is because of social norms rather than actual physical breasts. (hon, you’ll never really grow boobs but your body is still a beautiful work of art. I suggest you stop waiting and start loving.)
And what crushes me until this day, is that you’re going to be ashamed of how focused you are with academics. This is one of the strongest points of insecurities you’ll have.
For some reason, others will tease you on your ability to receive good grades. They’ll start talking about “not doing the homework”, and “staying up late online”. They’ll make it seem like academics is a chore that shouldn’t receive any attention. That’s how cool kids are. And what I found most threatening were the cool smart kids in honors classes that seemed to ace everything without even stopping to look at any textbook. It felt as if it should be breezy getting through the classes with bare minimum effort. And that was the only way anyone could brag about academics.
That’s what really bugged you. For some reason, effort is seen as something humiliating. Like how could anyone possibly find the time, effort, motivation, to spend on a stupid school assignment?
Maybe the kids in your class never really overtly stated it, but somehow you took their comments and morphed it into a voice that told you to “stop trying so hard”. And this mantra was chanted over and over, and ironically, in the span of trying to not try so hard, you tried really really hard to fit in.
For some reason, you’ll lose that spark that held up your confidence as a child in elementary school. You’ll become hyper-aware of the people around you, and what they’re thinking. And this causes you to keep you mouth taped shut. Like a vault filled with explosives but somehow you just can’t find the key. You become afraid of speaking out your mind.
Now don’t get scared, you’re still you. Fortunately, you won’t take that big of a hit. You’re still strong. Yes, you’re confidence goes down, but never enough for you to completely lose yourself. You still have that little fighting flicker inside of you.
So what I want to tell you (you precious gentle little angel), is that the transition from elementary school to middle school will be tough. You’re going to feel so out-of-place at times that you won’t know how to handle it. But you keep pushing through.
7th grade is probably the worst grade you’ll ever have (besides freshmen & senior year of high school). You’re going to be afraid of people, and academics, and yourself. You’re going to be filled with self-doubt.
So what I want to say to you is this.
You are so intelligent, and driven. Do not try to get rid of that in order to fit in. Do not be ashamed of trying your very best at the assignments or situations that come your way just to give off the idea of effortless success in school.
Do not be satisfied with the bare minimum, and shoot higher than you’ve ever reached. You know why? Because shooting for the very best is what you do. Do not lose that.
You have loved academics and doing your homework ever since kindergarten. Just because a couple of snotty nosed middle schoolers claim to have slept at 10pm watching George Lopez rather than doing their English homework sounds cool, don’t lose your own work ethic.
Also, tell all those kids who want to copy your work to “fuck off & do the fucking assignments”.
Except of course for the handful of polite students that care to actually discuss and help you out with homework.
Plus, you are so beautiful. Accept your body and embrace it. This body is the one that will carry you through tough times, but also the most enchanting and wonderful moments in your life. Yes, it may feel like a 10-year-old boy’s body rather than what you want it to be (which is a blooming young Sophia Vergara physique you just can’t genetically have). But that’s okay! Touch every part of your body and say “I Love You”. Point out each and every one of your physical insecurities:
Your eyes, your nose, your forehead, and your chest. Say I Love You to each one for surviving the tiring rollercoaster of life.
And while that first year seemed like a nightmare that wouldn’t end however hard you mentally prepared yourself, the next year won’t be so bad. Hell, 8th grade will probably coined as one of the best years of your life.
You’ll gradually learn how to let go of your fears. You’ll make new friends, and worry less about your body. Of course the insecurities are still there, raging like a three year old with a tantrum. But you start gaining your voice back. The shame of doing well in school begin to fade. Not completely, but the feeling of embarrassment is starting to erode.
And while what I’ve mentioned is the bad so far, as humans tend to remember negative events and situations rather than the good ones, I want you to know that you’ll experience great things as well.
You’ll meet a great group of friends. They’ll all be so different from those you had in elementary school.
And most of all:
Don’t over think anything. Just be silly! You’re how old? 11/12 years old? Don’t take yourself so seriously. Middle school is just one of those phases humans have to go through. It’s not a bid deal, and please don’t feel like you have to act or be a certain way.
I don’t want to sound like painful adults that say “you’ll understand when you’re older”, but the insecurities and things you’re going through won’t seem like a big deal once you look back.
No ones going to care about how you looked in middle school, but the important thing is you’ll remember how you felt.
So feel great! Don’t care about the haters! (Not that you had any haters, most of the hate came from within sadly).
Don’t feel restrained from everything, let loose! You’re 12! You’re allowed to be obnoxious and annoying. You’ll feel more free that way.
So middle school Kae, just remember to love and accept who you are. Growing up and moving on from childhood is going to be awkward and weird, and it’s going to feel like something you never want to discuss or go through.
But hon, just smile for me 🙂