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.
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.
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.
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!
Those experiences made me feel like an outcast. They made me feel lonely and misunderstood and different. And they’ve all stuck with me until now. I’ve always felt just a little bit like I’m on the outside looking in. Instead of letting that make me feel sad or dark or whatever, I’m now feeling like it’s unifying me with some people I really admire. I’m looking back and realizing that those feelings are so universal, and the other people who’ve felt that way are often my heroes. It’s made books better because I can relate, it’s made movies better because I feel like they’re talking to me and it’s made music THE BEST.
Like I said, I have a younger sister, so it’s really in my face that this age and time is still so hard for a lot of young girls. I made a mini playlist that’s part straight empowerment but mostly female empowerment. Yo, young girls! Listen to these songs, watch these ladies speak and watch them be themselves — they’re all different, they’re all unique, they’re all imperfect and they’re all making stuff for you, right now. There are endless videos I could include of older generations being mad inspiring – but I want this to be about now. Here are some artists that make me feel strong, and cool, and UNDERSTOOD.
HaimThe beginning of this live show is them doing a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” & it’s the dopest. They’re real musicians and real ladiessssss and I love them.
LordeLorde anything really. I’m so happy she exists for young people but mostly for myself.
BeyonceFLAWLESS! This is a live version because the video that I own and have watched 40 million times from iTunes isn’t up online yet. But this really doesn’t need an explanation. Just watch her go.
Rozzi CraneI know she’s my friend, but that’s not why I included her – I included her because she’s a feminist and she writes songs that are about her life and her being an independent ass WOMAN. And she did this cover of one of my favorite Lauryn Hill songs that’s just really on point for the ladies in hurr.
M.I.ARivka and I would scream this song over and over again when it came out!
Lily AllenIt’s hard out here…
RobynI love everything Robyn does. Dance alonggggg, bbs.
Whenever something feels horrible, unmanageable, or totally isolating, remember to look around at the art that surrounds you and the music that’s made for you. It’s all there to remind you you’re not alone. To make you feel better, understood, heard, and included into a much larger group than wherever you might be physically.
Featured image via ShutterStock