I can truthfully say that I don't remember much of middle school. This isn't because of my bad memory or my uneventful career as a tween, but it's because my brain has shoved these memories into the deep crevices of my mind that I can't seem to access. Specifically, I remember none of seventh grade except for the fact that it was some of the most scarring days of my life.
If there is one thing that I could tell my middle school self, it is that the pain and sadness do go away and change, you just have to surround yourself with the right people.
Not one person that I considered my "best friend" during seventh grade is my best friend now. Not one. When I was thirteen, I wasn't nearly as close to my family as I am now, I didn't have the support system that I have now and I definitely did not have any sort of self confidence whatsoever. For these reasons (among many others), my seventh grade self fell victim to every taunt or jeer that came my way, never thinking that it could get better.
I firmly believe that my new, growing sense of happiness is because of the changes I made over my life, even if they weren't my original choice. In middle school, I tried clinging to toxic people who I thought would be my friends for life (I was WRONG). I tried changing myself to become someone I wasn't simply to get someone to laugh at my self-deprecating jokes at the lunch table because all I wanted to do was have the "perfect life" that everyone else seemed to have. What my 13-year-old self failed to notice was that seventh grade sucked for almost everyone, they just didn't show their anxiety in the cafeteria just like I would put on a fake smile every day.
I've learned that it's not worth putting on a fake smile every day because, sometimes, people don't change, no matter how much you want them to. Rather, I learned to give real smiles to the people who matter, because those people are going to be the ones there when you just need a hug, cookie, or piece of advice at 2 a.m.
Learning to surround myself with people who love me as much as I care about them was one of greatest things that could have happened and it's shown me that life does get better. Nothing, whether its good or bad, lasts forever; if you think you've hit rock bottom, find the people who are there to help you get up instead of walk right by you.
Middle school didn't last forever, but 8 years later I'm here still reflecting on how those experiences (the ones I can remember, at least) shaped me into the person I am today. Without those experiences, I would still be trying to please everyone around me rather than making myself happy; I would've been the same, sad 13-year-old just in a 21-year-old body. But, now I can remind myself that everything does get a little bit better with a little bit of time and a little bit of laughter, especially if it comes from the right people around you.
So, just remember, 13-year-old me, you are weird and you should embrace it. The right people will come around to love you anyway.