Today I was substitute teaching for middle school music and a group of girls was hanging out in my room during lunch, very vocally discussing their crushes, both male and female. The kids… The kids are right.
This year has been super-stressful and frustrating for all of us, including young people. I was talking a middle schooler I know through her third or fourth panic attack since August (that I know of, there have probably been more).
She’s got a lot of stress going on right now. Her school is offering a Zoom option for students whose parents aren’t comfortable with sending them out into public places
like smart people– but, of course, when you’re one of only two or three students working over the computer in a class of twenty or thirty, you’re at a disadvantage, especially if you’re someone who has trouble with the learning in the Zoom format to begin with.
(She can’t hear the teachers well, can’t really see the board, and is having a lot of trouble following lessons, among other things. And then she spent the past few days pouring her heart out into a presentation, only to wake up this morning to find out she’d overslept (likely because all of this stress is not conducive to a healthy sleep cycle) and missed the class she was supposed to do the presentation for.)
And this whole situation is praticularly frustrating to her, because she’s always been a great student with good grades– she’s not used to feeling like a failure.
So as I was talking with her, trying to figure out where to go from here, and I realized that, while a lot of the advice I was giving her sounded intuitive, much of it was stuff I didn’t pick up until I was older– in high school or college– and some of it I still haven’t internalized.
And I said to myself, “who else do I know who could use this kind of advice? The good people of tumblr!” So here we go.
Life Advice for a Struggling Middle Schooler (or Anyone Else Who Might Need It):
1. Try to identify exactly what your issues with a given situation are.
It’s easy to say, “Nothing works, the whole system is broken,” but ninety-nine perecent of the time* that helps no one. If you say, “I have an issue with these specific things,” or, even better, “Here are some simple things that could be changed to make it a lot easier for everyone involved,” you’re half-way there.
2. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need (or even want) it. The worst answer you can get is “no,” in which case you’ll be no worse off than you are now.
The people in your life want to help you. (If they don’t, maybe think about getting new ones, but that’s another discussion.) However, none of them live in your head. They don’t always know what it is that you need (even if it seems obvious to you). If you come to them and say, “these are my issues, and here are some things that you could do to help,” most of them will be thrilled. (This is especially true of parents and teachers (good ones, at least). It is literally their job to help you succeed– they want you to fail even less than you do. Ask your teacher for a copy of their lesson plan. Ask your parent to go over a particular topic you’re pretty sure they understand better than you do.)
Again, in most cases, the worst answer you can get is “no.” Most people don’t listen to someone come to them with open and honest issues and think, “What can I do to make this person’s life harder?”
3. Nobody in your life is ever going to care about what grades you got in elementary school. Once you’re in high school, nobody cares how you did in elementary school. Once you’re in college, nobody cares about your high school transcript. Once you have a degree and a few years of work under your belt, nobody cares what your class ranking was.
(Those movies you watched as a kid where someone goes in for a job interview and one of the interviewers pulls out their third grade report card and demands to know why they got a “D” in Gym are total lies.)
4. Don’t make a situation out to be worse than it is. I was looking over her math assignments with her, and most of them were 90 or higher. Yes, there were a few 60s or 70s, but right now it looks like she’ll probably get a B+ or an A-, both of which are perfectly acceptable. Being not perfect is okay.
5. Your feelings are valid. This is something I tell her all the time, because I know how much I would have loved to hear that as a middle schooler. Life is frustrating. You’re allowed to be frustrated. You don’t always need a reason– you can just say “I feel sad right now,” and that’s okay. You are allowed to feel things. Your feelings are not “stupid” or “trivial”– they are important.
6. Mental healthcare is just as important as physical healthcare. At the end of this whole discussion, she says to me, “I used to see a therapist. I think I’d like to go back.” And I said, “that sounds like a great idea. Talk to your parents.”
Destigmatize therapy. I am a firm believer that everyone should be in therapy. (And yes, that includes therapists. Frankly, I would be rather concerned if my therapist didn’t have their own therapist.) There is nothing wrong with therapy– it just means that you could use some help, and are willing to get it.
Sometimes, mental healthcare looks like, “this situation is too stressful for me to handle right now, I’ll deal with it another day.” Sometimes it means actually getting stuff done so you no longer need to stress out about it. Sometimes it looks like, “I really don’t think I’m capable of this, is there an alternative option?” And sometimes it means telling someone, “I love you, but I can’t be around you right now.”
*(Note that all numbers and statistics are completely invented.)
One of the biggest thing I’ve had to deconstruct from my parents is the notion that “you can only learn what you would be learning in class”. I still feel partly uncomfortable when working on my data science projects, and it’s not helped by my father calling them a waste of time constantly. Yet, I’m well up shit creek because I didn’t start earlier.
What’s worse is this cycle is only going to continue. My 5th grade brother is bored by the slow pace in math. Any attempt to give him tools to learn more are met with ridicule. And as much as I watch him be bored, I know that so many other students think like this, whether imposed on them by parents/teachers or just not knowing they can. It’s a terrible dichotomy to have simultaneously when the “basics” taught during a bachelor’s alone aren’t enough to get you the skills to actually go into the field, be it lack of depth or a constantly changing work environment. In the internet age, of all times.
Maladaptive daydreaming fantasies from middle school I just remembered today for some reason
1.) doctor who self insert
2.) Mom not on the verge of screaming at me
4.) Brother (actually just Boy™ in third person
5.) Both parents dying and moving
6.) TW, very spicy: Me dying
Do y'all remeber your 7th grade science lessons or are you normal?
so in sixth grade i met this girl, well call her ana, at an after school care place but we went to different middle schools so when i stopped going to after school care, i stopped seeing her but when we moved in 8th grade i moved to her street so when i went to the high school the next year we were on the same bus and shes a grade above me and i always thought she was such a cool person and she was going to the tech school for protective services so shes badass too but she was 15 and she was dating this guy who was 23 or 24 which is super icky but shes never been someone you could control so i didnt say anything about it when she talked about him but one day she told me she was pregnant and i didnt ask about the father or anything even though my mom really wanted to know bc this was back when i told my mom everything but anyway we tried to help her with anything she needed bc her family situation wasnt great and she ended up having an open adoption or smth where she gets to visit like whenever which is cool bc she didnt have to drop out of school or juggle school and baby but since she was 15 and he was 23 or 24 he went to jail for statutory rape and went he was up for parole or w/e last year she came back with how he tried to pay her to get an abortion so he wouldnt get in trouble which she obviously didnt do and thats why he got caught but ana being the badass she is and trained in law enforcement shit found out there were other underage girls who he was with and this one 14 year old in particular had been in the same situation and he was like 20 with her and he had also tried to pay her off to get an abortion but she had actually done it and had like receipts or whatever about it all and well he didnt get parole that day
- “are you the main character?” “I’m your fucking dad.”
- “your’e simping over your ex who does drugs?”
- “I have a shape and its round!” (the health teacher)
- “I won’t do it, I’m old, tired, and angry-” “you have ki-” “THAT’S WHY I’M OLD, TIRED, AND ANGRY!”
- “The way he hugged me was not a friend hug-” “THE WAY HE CHOKED YOU WAS NOT A FRIEND CHOKE!”
- “Don’t touch me I’m the gingerbread man!”
- “Are you here cause you’re in trouble?” “no” “you should be.”
- “Am I witnessing a drug deal?” “no im pretty sure its rasins”
drop everything and run?
School be like, ‘Follow your dreams! Life is full of possibilities!” while simultaneously cancelling them and destroying all possibilities. What a hypocrite
why should i have to dilute my personality so that i can fit in?
You know when you see something and suddenly your memories of middle school are slowly and menacingly cha cha sliding towards you.
I had to take a Benadryl so my dream was weird.
My friend dragged me by my hair to my old middle school before putting on cult robes and slitting my throat. I then turned into the mushroom from the Masked Singer.
I woke up to my dad playing harmonica in my ear.
can people like……
not be 11-14????
i have to deal with these fuckers every day, and i for one hate it.
i would like to request we remove all people between the ages of 11-14 by the end of 2020.
thank you for coming to my tedtalk.
Shoutout to the dark silhouette of a short victorian lady standing on my staircase on a dreary fall morning that my 6th grade self looked straight at for two seconds before she disappeared
yea I can’t remember how and when i literally bit another kid sometime during middle school
yea I can remember exactly what color oversized sports jersey Tyler was wearing when he got up to sharpen his pencil in 2nd grade
two things can be true
عمّان، ١٥ ربيع الآخر, ١٤٤٢
Does anyone still have a song from middle school that like, when it came out, everyone thought it was annoying and cringey because it played on the radio a lot, but you listened to it as an adult for nostalgia and you realize it’s a fire song? Mine is Fireflies by Owl City.
shoutout to the fuckers who peaked in middle school.