10 Lessons We Learned In Junior High…And Then Again Later In Life
Before I was a writer by profession, I was a writer by choice. My mother bought me a diary at seven years old and I still keep one today. Reading my old diaries is fas-cin-a-ting. But the stuff didn’t really start getting juicy (and hilarious and embarrassing) until around middle school. Reading my 7th grade diary today, it was clear that I was learning some very crucial life lessons. Very crucial. And while I thought I’d mastered them in middle school, life has a way of retesting you. Here are the lessons I (and most of us) learned in middle school and learned again in our twenties…or later.
Some friendships aren’t forever.
At the beginning of my seventh grade year, I wrote that one of my friends from elementary school was getting on my very last nerve. She would nitpick about my clothes and hair and we just generally started to focus on different things. I held on to that friendship long after seventh grade just because I thought you were supposed to keep your childhood friends forever. But I learned then that that is not always the case. And while I try not to become to saddened by it, it’s a lesson that I’ve relearned in my twenties. People and their priorities change. And though there might not be any love lost, sometimes you just have to part ways.
Your mom is probably still right
Looking back at my diary, it’s amazing how many times my mom was right even when I thought what she was saying was pure foolishness. The same is generally true today.
Just be honest
I spent most of middle school pining away from my locker buddy boo thang. I literally evaluated the quality of my days on whether I spoke to him that day and the quality of conversation we had. And I spent all of middle school and even some of high school liking this dude without ever saying anything to that effect. In retrospect I should have put my big girl panties on and just told him how I felt and dealt with the consequences.
And the same is true in my interactions with men today. I’ve kicked myself for not telling the truth or not being frank about my feelings and expectations. And on the other hand, when I have been brutally honest, it’s generally received with respect and understanding. And even if it isn’t, I feel better knowing I told the truth.
You’re probably not going to marry him
In middle school I know my classmates and I all thought we were going to marry each other. Couldn’t have been further from the truth. And honestly, it was undoubtedly for the best. I learned that painful lesson again not too long ago. And that’s probably for the best too.
Boys/Men/People: They’re Not Always What They Seem
The dude I loved and obsessed over was always really quiet and reserved and seemingly innocent. But one day he made some really vile sexual comment that completely disgusted me. And even though it didn’t stop me from liking him, it was an important moment. And as my mom said, around that time ” Veronica, this is a lesson. Just because boys act all quiet and stuff doesn’t mean they can’t be rude.” She ain’t never lied about that. Learned and relearned.
Everything revolves around sex
Obviously, this isn’t true but there is some merit to the comment. Right around middle school age, I noticed that everything was somehow related to sex. Everything was a sexual innuendo, all the rumors were about sex, if you wanted to insult someone, you talked about their sexual prowess or sexuality etc,. While I would argue some of us have learned to tone it down, there is still a large part of our society that focuses on sex quite a bit. The men on the street hound you for it. People are still deriding people for their expressed sexuality. And do we ever grow tired of a good “that’s what she/he said” joke?
People are watching
I remember after our sixth grade dance, one of my classmates was going around school calling me a hypocrite because she thought that I was dancing inappropriately to be calling myself a Christian. We’ll chalk that up to a difference of opinion. But the point is, what my mother always told me: “People are watching you.” If you profess to be something, for better or worse, people are holding you to that standard, waiting, and sometimes rooting, for you to fall short.
Don’t dim your light to appease others
In seventh grade, I won student of the month. And they made the announcement over the PA system to the entire school. Instead of being proud of my accomplishment and celebrating it,I was mortified by the attention. And I know now that that fact was compounded by the fact that I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging in front of the friends who weren’t doing as well. I still struggle with public recognition in some ways, but I’m learning that if people who call themselves your friends can’t be happy for you, then that’s their issue. And I won’t stop shining just to make them feel more comfortable.
Boys can wait
Remember the boy I thought I loved? Well, we had the same English class together. But my English teacher decided to develop another class for gifted students and she told me she wanted to put me in it during the next trimester. My first reaction was devastation. I wasn’t going to have class with my locker buddy boo thang anymore! Tragic. But even as a seventh grader, I wrote “It will probably be better for me, so I won’t get distracted and think that I shouldn’t do things because I think he’s watching me.”
Now, today the times I’ve been most effective in achieving my personal and professional goals are the times when I wasn’t distracted by a man. I’m by no means anti men but I certainly don’t believe in putting my life and my goals on hold for one either.
You were stupid then and you’ll be stupid again
Even though I cringe reading every other sentence of my diary, I was a pretty mature kid. And at 12 or 13, I wrote, in my diary, “I know I’m going to look back on this and be like ‘I was so stupid.’ but right now I don’t feel like that.”
Anytime you mature and reflect on your past thoughts and emotions, you’re bound to feel a little silly. I know I have those moments now…like all the time. But there is much value in being true to your feelings, even when you, yourself don’t think they’re valid. And then you can laugh at your foolishness next year. This little “I sounded like a fool” phenomena is probably life’s way of keeping us humble.
What lessons did you learn in middle school that you learned over and over again later in life?