It was always about trying to be cool...to fit in...to not stick out and draw attention to oneself...and yet...wanting attention from the right people.
The year was 1974, and I was entering 7th grade...junior high, as it was called then...and I would carefully dress each morning in my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, stick a giant comb in my back pocket, slip on my platform shoes, and head out for another day...
I felt so...mature. At the age of 12, no less. The freedom of being able to walk in the hallways between classes...chitchat with girlfriends...the freedom of choosing whom I sat with at lunch...it was a fantastic feeling, and yet somewhat scary and intimidating at the same time, to have this much independence. So many conflicting emotions....
My girlfriends and I would stealthily watch the boys, determining who was the cutest and most popular and who would make the best boyfriend. Inevitably, the boys that I liked wouldn't give me the time of day...and the boys who DID give me the time of day weren't on my "chosen" list...more conflicting emotions....
When one of our girlfriends actually managed to "snag" a boyfriend, the rest of us would watch in a bit of awe...envy...and yes, fear...as the two would hold hands as they made their way down the school hallways...what was it like, we wondered, to have an actual boyfriend? We were drawn to it...and yet, we were fearful of it. We wanted a relationship...and yet we were repelled by the thought of it and what it would entail...so, more conflicting emotions....
The physical changes going on with my body were awkward and confusing...my parents would tell me that one's looks didn't matter...and yet, I could see with my own eyes, that at school, at least, one's looks most certainly DID matter. Conflict.
It was inconsistencies such as that, that had me thinking my parents weren't as smart as I had thought they were over the years...and yet...and yet...they were who I would turn to when it seemed like the weight of the world was crashing down on me. Conflict.
It was such a confusing time, with all of these conflicting emotions and situations swirling around.
As I took my own 12-year old daughter this week to register for her own upcoming 7th grade year, these thoughts and memories came rushing back like a runaway freight train...especially when I saw the fear and apprehension in her eyes when she walked down the enormous school hallways, attempting to memorize her schedule, and attempting (without much success) to open her locker. I wanted to reassure her that, as confusing as middle school may be, it DOES get better.
The conflicts that surround you eventually work their way out...and the questions you have eventually get answered.
What seems so important when you're 12 will seem minuscule a few years later...
I tried. I talked with her. I told her of some of my own thoughts when I was 12. I told her of my own conflicting thoughts and emotions and observations. I told her I would always be there for her, always ready to sit down and listen if she wanted to talk.
Did she listen? I hope so.
Sometimes she looks at me like I'm the smartest parent, EVER. And sometimes she looks at me like I'm the biggest idiot. Ever.