DECODEDWhy Can't I Stop Hating People From Middle School?Tatti Ribeiro

I’ve never been to therapy, so like, how much would I need to stop actively hating people from middle school? That’s a question that I think about a few times a month.

Middle School

Fine. I think about how much I probably need therapy, like, once a day, but I think about this particular reason for therapy once or twice a month. I don’t want to sound too spiteful or overly resentful, but the kids I went to middle school with were really not that nice. I don’t think I’m unique for having a bad experience there. Honestly, it’s probably one of my most relatable experiences. Middle school is really intense, really hard and mostly horrible I think for a lot of people.

Showalter

Look! Michael Showalter agrees! This ish is hard to move on from!
I have a sister who is much younger than me and is currently in middle school, and while I think she can definitely handle her own situation, it’s still rough to watch. That’s because there is no one meaner than a middle schooler. No one. They are filled with insecurities, but they don’t even know that’s what they’re feeling. I’m not being condescending when I say that, and I’m not discrediting humans that age – they’re really smart. I have conversations daily that make me think, and that challenge me, with a 13-year-old. It’d be ignorant of me to say anything patronizing to or about my sister, because I know she’s well aware of everything I’m talking about and can answer for herself. She’s actually way smarter than me. What I mean is that at that age, everything is new. There’s no context with which to explain your emotions or reactions to things. You’re going through huge mental, physical and emotional changes; you just feel how you feel and there’s no apparent explanation. And that sucks. That makes people act out, get defensive and honestly do anything at all to make sure that the attention, especially negative attention, is on anyone but them.

Once you’re little older and in high school, there’s at least some awareness of your feelings, your angst and your fear.

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Look at all my 10th grade high school angst!
The transition between the two – that three month summer – changes a lot of things very quickly. I literally went from 8th grade misery to ninth grade joy in less than five months. I was a totally different person emotionally. Obviously once I was in high school, there were moments that were great, and then moments that I thought I’d never escape — but I lived through it, as we all do. Those experiences are memories that mean a lot to me, but for whatever reason, they haven’t haunted me like my memories from middle school. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because that’s a more formative time? Maybe it’s because I wasn’t as secure with myself and felt more vulnerable in middle school? Maybe it’s because it was actually a worse period of time than high school was? I don’t know. But whatever it was, those three years between sixth and eighth grade have stuck with me in this forever kind of way. And in talking to my friends and family over time, I feel like that’s the general consensus.

If I hear certain names from eighth grade – like Max, literally the most common name on earth – I feel a wave of panic. If I see certain moms, who are now middle-aged with all their kids out of the house and who are way less concerned with their children’s playground politics, I fill up with a little hate. I can’t help it. I’ve moved on from other stuff, I swear. I’ve forgiven most people I’ve ever “hated”, and yet these people… these people I can’t fathom moving on from.

 

That’s a taste of my middle school experience.
I wonder how I’d handle being put in a room with my seventh grade class now? I also wonder how many kids from my class felt the same way and I have/had no idea. I wouldn’t have noticed if the kid sitting next to me was having an anxiety attack identical to mine, which they probably were. But that thought doesn’t give me comfort like it should. It doesn’t make me feel better. I know everyone was just a kid and it was all innocent, but I don’t care! I’m still mad at them. And to be totally real with you, I’m over it. I’m over feeling the remnants of insecurity left over from a decade ago!

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  1. I’ve carried with me extremely negative but blessedly vague impressions of my own middle school experience. I’ve blotted out the particulars, I suppose. But teaching a class of 22 twelve-year-old kids (who all shared a language I didn’t speak) opened my eyes to how cruel they can actually be: to each other, to adults (I was definitely an easy target!), and, I assume, to themselves as well. My theory is that at about eleven, kids begin to realize exactly how useful words and actions are: how they can instantly affect others’ thoughts and feelings with one sentence or even a simple glance. But it takes a few years for them to learn (usually by being hurt themselves) how powerful and lasting the effects can be. For this window of time, they become recklessly manipulative. Let’s just be glad that most, though sadly not all, people grow out of it.

  2. It’s also important to remember that a lot of the people who seemed to LOVE jr high probably had their own crap going on. I was bullied a ton back then but I think the kids who bullied me were going through some of their own turmoil and social wars. It wasn’t right but they were probably just as miserable as us geeks!

  3. Middle school really is the WORST. I have a prosthetic leg and the things kids did and said to me in middle school are too cruel to even sound true. I was suicidal and self hurt a lot. When we moved the summer before high school started and I realized I had to go to a different school I was terrified. I thought I would be going somewhere with just as many bullies but no friends for comfort. Couldn’t have been more wrong! In the four years of high school not a single person made a comment to me about my leg and I had the best of friends. I became confident and loved myself. But, at the age of 23, my stomach still turns at the thought of people who made that three years hell. One tried to apologize about two years ago but it did more for her than it did me.

    • Middle school was totally the worst!!!!! What jerks. I’d rather be a middle school reject than a middle school golden girl, because it never gets better for the popular kids.

  4. I thought I was the only one!