From Scraped Knees to the Birds & the Bees

Jessye - Concord, Massachusetts
Entered on April 8, 2009

Being a pre-teen girl sucks. Excuse my informal language, but there is no better way to sum up middle school. From first kisses to first menstrual cramps, we spend most of our middle school years jumping around on that hazy line between childhood and adolescence. It isn’t easy. Our cliques usually change as we decide on which track we are headed. The Rebels start smoking and having sex. The Children continue to play tag outside and climb trees. The Cool Ones start wearing make-up. The Sporty Ones try desperately to avoid puberty and dress “like boys.” We begin to classify ourselves with these stereotypical labels around middle school, labels that can sometimes follow us throughout high school. This is not how it has to be, but it is. For pre-teen girls it is a battle, a fight for who you are.

I hated eighth grade. It was one giant rumor after the other, causing tears, break-ups and the end of some friendships. I found myself completely confused. I suddenly had to choose between silly and serious, childish games or dangerous habits. I had been dating this boy, Braxton, since seventh grade, but in eighth grade everything had changed. Holding hands, hanging out and a peck on the cheek was no longer accepted. Slowly, my friends and my peers began to stop wanting to climb trees and play tag outside in the fields. Although I had the freedom of each day, I felt restricted in what I could do. I desperately wanted to hang onto both my childhood and my newfound attraction to being a teenager. Why do I have to choose? I would wonder.

With the hormonal aspect of eighth grade came the moodiness. I was overwhelmed not only from my own bout of teenage blues, but also from my friends. It was hard enough to deal with my own fears and problems, yet I soon became the resident psychologist, assuming the role like it was my duty. Don’t get me wrong; I am glad I had my friends because in the end it was they who pulled us out of the depths of eighth grade depression. Sometimes, I would lay in bed wondering what the point of going to school was if I was just going to be laughed at for wearing stretch pants and pressured to sit on Braxton’s lap. It was not my group of close friends of whom I was afraid of; it was everyone else.

Of all the miserable days of eighth grade, there is one day I vividly remember having hope. A staff member, one of my mentors, reminded me that I was strong and loved, that adolescence was only a few painful years, but I had the rest of my life ahead of me. Her words have stuck with me, and when I am struggling to stand strong I often think of her words of wisdom, and I say to myself, she is right, I will make it through. This, I believe.