Hey all you twenty-somethings out there, let’s travel back in time to the glory days of junior high. Welcome to the early 2000s. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. (Honestly it probably wasn't the worst but you posted angsty away messages on AIM that made it seem like it was). Your world consisted of American Idol, sk8er fashion, MTV dating shows, Dane Cook jokes, Ugg boots with jean skirts, Texting on T9, mall trips, Club Penguin and chain messages.
You wake to the sound of your pink Razr cell phones alarm playing "Temperature" by Sean Paul. You lay back down on your pillow with the built-in-speaker and look up at the ceiling. It’s less like a ceiling and more like a shrine of Tiger Beat teen pop sensation posters. You blow a kiss to Jesse McCartney's "Beautiful Soul" poster and wonder how a boy with better highlights than you could possibly be so perfect.
You grab a Chocolate Vanilla Crème Pop-Tart (RIP now discontinued), slide on your extensive collection of Livestrong bracelets, scrunch your hair and speed off to school on your Heelys.
You get to homeroom. You and your friends pass notes on Lisa Frank notebook paper and say things like “chillax” and “bling bling”.
You decide to pull out your bangin' iPod Nano and jam to some tunes.
During these days, we heard R&B Usher and pop punk music. Preppy girls from upscale suburban neighborhoods suddenly wore arm cuffs, hair feathers, bedazzled camo and ripped skinny jeans. They poured their hearts out in their AIM bios with Blink 182 quotes like “don’t waste your time on me you’re already a voice inside my head </3”.
Your “most played” list includes: "Sugar We’re Going Down Swinging" (so dramatic), "Move Along" (so over you) and "Hollaback Girl" (you can finally spell "bananas").
Your friends that listen to My Chemical Romance are “emo” because they claim to be lost and dark. During this year, Pixar released a new movie and nEMO was lost in the dark sea. Pixar rocks. Pixar is hip on trends.
It was also the year of depressing yet surprisingly upbeat ballads like “Bad Day” and “You’re Beautiful” which I’m sure you downloaded off of Limewire.
After some tiring 40-minute-long classes of art (gel pens), math (PEMDAS), and gym (this mile run is going to ruin my straightened side bangs) it’s lunch time. Major nomz.
You and your friends sit together while laughing and eating white bread sandwiches. You don't consider the consequences of refined grains or high glycemic index because you’re young and it’s fluffy and covered in peanut butter and everything is awesome because your fast metabolism is the coolest thing since … sliced white bread. After much contemplation, you trade your sandwich for Emily's Lunchables and Ritz crackers. Sure, the cheese is scary and unnatural, but you won't start caring about that until high school.
You chat about the nice girls of Hollywood like Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes. You wonder aloud when Timmy, the love of your life, will finally ask for your AIM screen name or landline.
After school is out, you wait in line for “last name M-Z carpool” and have an overly-emotional hug-and-goodbye sesh with your friends as if you are moving across the world and will never see each other again.
Fifteen minutes later you are over it and slide off your 20-pound backpack stuffed with trapper keeper binders, art supplies and Market Day orders.
You race over to the computer and launch Instant Messenger. You haven't seen your friends in almost half an hour and have much to catch up on. You’re annoyed that your screen name is x3broken_hearted_soccer_girl_giraffelover21xx but whatever, everything else was taken. You proceed to sign off and on for five minutes hoping Timmy will notice you. If he doesn’t IM you then you will probably post an away message like “BRB clubbin wit my b3stie$!!! TTYL !!! LYLAS <3 Hit meeeeee up!@)*@*$ Single but looking* </3” or “ppl r so confusing O_o” and then sit on your bed and watch "Laguna Beach".
After the longest 10 minutes of your life, your crush finally texts you and says, "hey wut up." You reply "nm lol." Your heart is fluttering and you can't wait to three-way call your BFFs and tell them the details.
Later, everyone puts up away messages. So, you get on Myspace.
Not only do we all look awkward in middle school, but we also post equally awkward photos of ourselves on the internet featuring the classic 45-degree-angle-outstretched-arm-duck-faced-selfies. All photos had bad lighting, smudgy mirrors in dire need of some Windex and Picnik captions saying things like, "Good friends are like four leaf clovers. Hard to find, but lucky to have".
Top friends? Ugh people don’t give early 2000s middle schoolers enough credit. Not only do we have to do long division math homework, but we also have to decide how to rank our closest friends. “Kristen hasn’t instant messaged me in like two hours … does she still deserve to be third on my Top Friends or should I bump her down to fifth? If I move Timmy up to second, am I taking things too fast in our non-existent relationship? Also where do I put the creator, Tom?”
Before you know it, it’s 7:00 p.m. which means it’s time to get crunk on Mountain Dew. It’s school dance time!
You smudge an incomprehensible amount of glitter onto your eyelids, cheeks and arms until you look like a human snowflake. Next, you douse yourself in Warm Vanilla Sugar body spray. Now that you look more like the glass slipper rather than Cinderella herself, you’re off to the ball.
You get to the gym-turned-dance-floor and scout out the fashion. Every girl (including you) is wearing the same outfit: A denim mini skirt with a Hollister Co t-shirt and ballet flats. You are caught somewhere between loving that you are all wearing the same outfit and hating that you are all wearing the same outfit. On the plus side, you don’t have to ask your friends where they buy their clothes because the brand name is printed across the chest. For the next few years, you will be a walking billboard.
For the boys, some are wearing jeans that their moms picked out and others are wearing basketball shorts. You ask yourself, are they wearing more sprays of Axe? Or more pockets on their cargo pants? You don't even try figuring it out because the closest your teachers will let you get to any boy at this dance is a full arm’s-length distance apart.
So, the guys are all on one side laughing and obnoxiously pretending to punch each other. Meanwhile, you and your girls are rolling your eyes and making fun of the guys. Truth be told, you're just trying to be loud and giggly in the hopes that they will notice you. After much anticipation, you lock eyes with your crush Timmy for three seconds and then look away quickly so you don't seem too eager.
Eventually something will need to break the ice. It will probably be the Cupid Shuffle, or worse, the Cha-Cha-Slide.
Finally, everyone is together and dancing and awkwardly shaking their hips from left to the right. Everything is fun and carefree until suddenly Aerosmith’s “I could stay awake just to hear you breathing…” softly plays through the stereo. Everyone stops dead in their tracks. Slow dance time. What do you do? Grab the first guy you see? Pretend you are hungry and go grab a nacho? Two nachos? Make eye contact with a male? Call your mom? Before you can properly assess the options, Timmy is tapping your shoulder and (in a voice barely audible to the human ear) shrugs and says “wanna dance?” You look like a deer in headlights if deer wore lots of glitter eyeshadow and Hollister t-shirts and quickly muster up all of your strength to say "yes."
The girls don’t know whether they should opt for the safe choice and simply rest their hands on the guys’ shoulders or if they should be a little riskier and wrap their hands around his neck. The guys' hands look like velcro because they are stuck to the girls hips and do not move once. You don't know where to look but you do notice that Timmy isn't blinking and you wonder if he is okay or paralyzed. You wonder what it would be like to dance with Edward Cullen. You continue assessing your hand-placement options.
A.) Cup the shoulders?
B.) Wrap hands around neck?
Before you can make a decision, the song ends and now everyone is jumping and singing along to “1985." The sixth graders are shouting so loudly that the DJ looks miserable and the teachers are kicking themselves for agreeing to volunteer at this dance on their Friday night off. But for you and your pals, life is good. It’s only 9 p.m. which means you have a solid hour before the carpool parents come in and start taking photos. The night is young and so are you. After the dance, Timmy promises to text you later. Even though your data plan only has 30 texts per month, you are thrilled. You decide to move him up to second on your Myspace top friends, after all.
And there you have it. A day in the life of an early 2000's junior high pre-teen. Sure, middle school was awkward, and sure, we were in a hurry to grow up. But we all miss those days. Everyone says 90s kids are nostalgic. It’s because there have been more technological advancements within the past 15 years than ever before. We’re the first generation to grow up with both ends of the spectrum.
While we can appreciate the fast-paced world of today, it’s nice to backspace to those T9 days. We were the kids in America.
Life was chill. Life was relaxed. Life was…chillax.