Middle school is a fading memory but I do remember the hardships and bullying that I faced. I went into the sixth grade with glasses that transitioned into sunglasses when I walked outside and of course, there would be whispers around me due to my quirkiness. Other than my glasses, collared shirts were a part of dress code and I was never a fan of collared shirts so I wore sweatshirts instead. For whatever reason, a rumor spread that I wore sweatshirts each day because I severely cut myself on my arms. When I heard the rumor myself, it deeply hurt me, I had never hurt myself in any type of way.
As much as the rumor hurt me and I constantly wondered why anybody would say that, I continued to be myself. I was not going to change myself because of a false rumor and overtime, I began to wear contacts and realized it was too hot for sweatshirts. But I did not do this to make friends or become popular, I did this for myself. If I could go back and sit down with my middle school self, I would tell myself that in a few years glasses wouldn't be nerdy anymore, people would be buying fake glasses so that they looked cool. I would let myself know that the people who are popular in middle school will stop being popular in a matter of time and rumors are nothing but a way for the person who started the rumor to get attention. And no matter how lonely you feel now, you will meet real friends soon enough and focus on school more than anything else.
I have a niece who is in middle school who at times faces hardships and tends to believe that I only tell her my story because we're family and you "have" to be supportive. So instead, I decided to ask my college friends about their middle school experiences and if they had a message for her so that she knows she is not alone in this:
"Middle school was rough for everyone and she’ll make it out fine. Encourage her to make strong, sweet and genuine friends in the mess and to be unafraid when it comes to demanding what’s best for herself."
"It's easy to feel pressured to just follow what most people are doing in middle school. Girls can be mean, but it's important that she does what makes her happy and follows her heart! I also was really shy in middle school so it was a little hard to meet friends who positively impacted my life. She needs to find people who will support her, encourage her and make her happy!"
"Middle school was really rough for me too! As someone who went to a private Christian school and didn't have many friends, I spent my time reading and playing the violin. It can be a difficult period when trying to figure yourself out but don't lose hope. Don't be afraid to be yourself, because, in the end, people will love you for who you are. Find comfort in the things in the things that make YOU happy, not what makes everyone else happy!"
"She's great just as she is. I fell under the pressure of dating boys in middle school and I hated it. Everything was forced or coerced by my so-called friends. I wish I was strong enough to say no and just stick to what I like. You're great! Keep doing what you're doing and the right people will come into your life."
"Middle school was the WORST, specifically in 7th grade. I went to a private Christian school, and some of the people, adults, and kids didn’t practice what they preached. I started to pick up sports and other hobbies. I learned a lot about myself by being myself, and I had peace and ended meeting some pretty cool people who I’m very close with to this day. She’s not alone on this journey, and she will get through this and be the better from it!"
"She is definitely not alone! My mom was my principal in high school, so some people were nice to my face because of that, but they made fun of me behind my back. However, a had a few friends that were just as weird as I was. We had the best time because we could be our crazy selves together. We’re still friends today! The worst thing she can do is not be herself because she’ll end up unhappy that she always has to hide how great she is! Also, as she grows up people will be jealous of her and her talents! Have her hold on tight to the things that make her unique."
"Middle school is some of the most difficult years because everyone around you is trying so hard to prove that they have already grown up. That’s why a lot of girls get into makeup and boyfriends during those years because they are trying to distance themselves from what they were like in elementary school. I know it must be discouraging for her to not be able to make friends easily, but I think it was that way for most people. I only had a couple friends in middle school and it took me a while to find them. Those same friends are now some of my best friends all of these years later. As long as she never compromises who she is just to fit in, she will be fine."
"Encourage her to stay true to herself! it’s hard to see now that following the trends just to follow them is not the road to follow but she’ll be so much happier in the end if she follows her passions and keeps being herself. middle school is hard, and high school is going to be hard but if she sticks to who she is and doesn’t let anyone change her she’ll be so much stronger! Let her know that her opinion of herself is the only one that matters. Hang in there girlie."