When most people think about middle school, they think awkward, right? It tends to be
an awkward stage for most people - a life stage when puberty hits, hormones change, and other growing pains begin that cause you to look back and say, “PHEW, I’m glad thats over!” Well, this certainly was my experience.
Right before middle school began, we took a vacation to DISNEY WORLD! But, after having panic attacks on the last trip, I already had knots in my stomach about being away from home, in fear of something like “that” happening again. I began to associate anything that was far away from home with negative thoughts and feelings. Luckily, I was still interested going to many of the parks, rides, and activities. It was usually at night time that I began to worry. Every night, I felt uneasy, and I desperately wanted to sleep in my parents' room. I just wanted to avoid it all together. I would say I had some fun on this trip, but I was sure glad to get back home. Normally, Disney World is supposed to be "the happiest place on earth," right? For me, I was just relieved to come home.
As summer drew to a close, I became more nervous (and by nervous, I mean terrified!) about starting middle school. Thankfully, my older sister had a few friends with sisters my age, and we were able to get together a few times in the summer (trips to the Texas Pool were my favorite!). It was nice to having a few friends going into such a big new school!
The first week of school was miserable. I came home crying every day and begged my parents to not make me go back the next day. I didn’t have any friends in any of my classes, I couldn’t find my way around, and I could not get my locker open. My mom came up to after school one day to help me practice getting my locker open. I felt so embarrassed! Needless to say, I don’t do well with change! That is still the case today - just not as severe.
It was shortly after I started middle school that I began going to counseling. My mom wanted me to talk to someone about my panic attacks and all of the life changes causing me anxiety - middle school, sleepovers, being alone, family trips, etc. My counselors determined that I needed assistance through medication to help me in several areas - getting to school and coping with this “anxiety,” which I honestly didn’t understand. I just thought I wasn’t normal and that something was wrong with me.
We took another trip the next year to Branson, Missouri - same problems, different trip. I felt like it was getting worse. The "fear of the fear" had officially planted its deep roots in my head.
I was born with a small (but dark) birth mark on the back of my right leg. My parents had always been told that if my birthmark ever changes shape/color, I should get it removed. A surgery like this would result in me being on crutches for 6 weeks to recover. I was not a fan of going to school - the thought of having surgery was even worse! Regardless, my parents thought that removing it would be best. This way, I could avoid friends, family, and even teachers telling me that I had "poop on my leg." The doctors walked us through exactly what would happen before and during the procedure to make me feel more comfortable. The doctor told me I would get "a little poke" and then fall sleep. But, a nurse decided right before inserting the IV that I needed a lidocaine shot in my hand to numb the IV. I was very confused by this, and it hurt really bad! Next thing I know, I woke up feeling confused and disoriented. I had passed out from the unexpected pain of the lidocaine shot when I was laying down. According to my parents and the doctors, it looked like I was having a seizure. Everyone seemed concerned, and they said it was my choice whether to go forward with the surgery or not. After I heard all this, I was terrified and refused to continue. This experience reinforced the belief that something was wrong with me. It may seem trivial, but I didn’t understand why I would pass out. I saw the concern on the faces of the doctors and my parents, and I took those feelings on myself.
A ray of sunshine during middle school was my chosen elective: choir. I don’t think I knew what I was doing, but it was always where I had the most fun and made true friends. In 7th and 8th grade, I had to audition to be in the top choir, and I actually made it! This helped motivate me to work hard - and I did. In addition to choir, I started taking a theatre class and got cast in a few shows. Choir and theatre were amazing outlets for me, and they soon became my passion.
It was during choir that I started a relationship that would be on-and-off again for over 10 years. I was smitten. He was a year older than me, so I always felt intimidated and subsequently put him on a pedestal. He and his friends always teased me - I guess you could say I was a “prude” and was suddenly introduced to many things that I had never heard of before. I thought it was just "boys being boys," but it definitely got to me, causing me to feel a deep sense of pressure & insecurity. I distinctly remember the day in 8th grade when my heart was completely broken. I will never forget that feeling. He liked someone else, and it felt like my whole world had just collapsed. My middle school years were full of ridicule - “BW” was my nickname, which stood for “beached whale." I was the “biggest” of my friends and would occasionally catch them talking about my size. Because of things like this, sleepovers became a bigger issue for me, and my friends would not let me forget it. As such, my thoughts spiraled downward - "something is wrong with me," "what did I do wrong?" I took all of these things to heart because of my sensitive nature. These became my beliefs about myself.
I found some hope when I was baptized at church and really gave my heart to Jesus. At the time, I don’t know if I fully understood what that meant, but I knew that He existed and that He would help me. It was not until college that I started to truly understand what this meant.
So, middle school was not a complete nightmare, but I definitely had some hard struggles. Every kid faces their own challenges - and many are far worse than mine! But, by God's grace and the support of my family, I survived. I had big dreams & plans for MY future!
"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." - Proverbs 19:21