Where am I now and how the heck did I get here?

How does anyone manage to survive middle school years?  Problems loom large. Changes are traumatic.  Perception is EVERYTHING!

United Way is running a community project of “Where am I now?”, highlighting a few individuals who share their own struggles during those years and how they realized a successful life – even with the twists and turns they had along the way.  You might see one of them on a billboard around the county or on the United Way website (www.unitedwayabc.org).  Go to our Middle School Success Facebook page, view the videos along with submissions from others in the community, add your story to the mix, vote for your favorite, and enter to win an I Pad.

How did you survive middle school?  Where are you now? 

One thing we can do to support our youth is to let them know that we were there too, we had difficulties as well, and we got through it.  It can feel very lonely – like you are on the outside looking in and you don’t have the magic key to get in. There are different things you want to do but you are afraid you will stand out or look strange.  You are torn between playing it safe and expressing your individuality.

What kinds of things shake up those middle school years?

  1. Your family moves and you go to a new school where you know No One.
  2. The hair style you loved over the summer makes you stand out in school.
  3. Your body changed a lot over the summer – taller, heavier, bustier… so your clothes fit differently and you can’t get new clothes.
  4. Your body hasn’t changed and you feel scrawny and scared when stronger kids get in your face.
  5. You don’t understand the class assignment but are too embarrassed to raise your hand or even go up to the teacher after class to ask a question.
  6. You take an “F” rather than give a presentation in front of your classmates.
  7. You give a presentation that seemed funny and smart when you practiced, but fell flat when you did it in class.
  8. You aren’t familiar with the music groups or TV shows that you hear classmates discussing.
  9. You don’t have a cell phone, a Facebook page or a Twitter account, and "everyone else" does.
  10. You are wearing braces and your glasses frames seem out-of-style.

Been there! These are really just the small things that seem so very important.  But kids figure it out, keep moving, and somehow it gets better. 

Our own stories range from these kinds of “fitting in” traumas to really big ones – family troubles, dangerous neighborhoods, illnesses, learning difficulties.  Think about your own story of survival and consider sharing it.  You have the power to reassure a young person.  Getting to the other side and making a life that works for you is an important story. 

Please go to our Facebook page and share your path past middle school. It’s usually not a straight line.