Middle school: also known as the dreadful pinpoint where insecurities, drama, hormones, and smelly kids are forced inside a school building. When I was in the sixth grade, I thought my middle school was hell. The food was trash and there were always bloody tampons on the bathroom floors. However, now that I am in high school, I realize that sixth to eighth grade was actually the least stressful summit of my life.
I’m currently 16, and a junior in high school. With my bedroom now considered more of a primary classroom than a resting place, I’ve spent the bulk of this year at home. Although it was boring at times, I was able to catch up with my middle school friends through Instagram. Our conversations mainly consist of random debates such as if orange juice or apple juice is a better drink (orange juice is totally better, in my opinion), but talking to them forces me to acknowledge my ignorance during the years we hung out in real life.
When I was in the sixth grade, my brother was going to high school as a freshman. But he wasn’t going to the average high school; the school he was going to ranked better than every school in our state. In order to be accepted, he had to submit his middle school grades, test scores, and was required to be interviewed by a teacher. About one thousand kids apply each year, and only one hundred are accepted. I wanted to get accepted into the same school, but for the wrong reasons. I was desperate to impress my parents, peers, and friends.
From sixth to eighth grade, I maintained the highest GPA in my class. Although, I believe that being a well-behaved student and having great connections with the staff contributed to my straight As. I received the athlete award from my PE teacher — an award that was gifted to only one student in the school every year, and I wasn’t even an athlete.
Over time, grades made me snobby. In the report cards, there was a ratio that compares your grades to other students. Sometimes my grades would shift from best-receiving scores to second best, but I ended up being the valedictorian. It made me feel superior, and it served me terribly when I got accepted into my dream high school.
All of my life, I had been complimented on my intelligence and creativity. I thought that I was outstanding in every category of academics and arts. But my first lecture at the high school was from a blunt engineering teacher who candidly said that we are no longer special. Everyone in the room had impeccable middle school grades, had a grand reputation, so no one was special because we were all the same.
I wouldn’t prefer being called stupid or incapable, but I wish somebody told me I wasn’t so smart back in my snobbish middle school years. I exaggerated so much about what I actually knew, that I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know.
I also wish that somebody had told me to do the things I genuinely enjoyed. It makes me sad that my middle school life was spent on doing activities that I only did because of an unnecessary pressure I put on myself to keep up a “smart” stereotype. Like, I was on the LEGO robotics team, yet I understood nothing about building with LEGOs or the coding that came with it.
Although it’s irrelevant now, I kinda wish I had a fun memory I could look back to from middle school.
I made the mistake of basing my worthiness on grades. So when I started getting Cs and low Bs in high school, I lost a lot of my internal self-worth.
Don’t get me wrong! I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given. I have adjusted to my high school atmosphere, and life is going in the right direction now.
Great grades are fantastic, and being a valedictorian is amazing! But I can’t help but regret how my focus on school put a barrier between friendships and happiness. Becoming a valedictorian is often accomplished with sacrifice, and I partially feel like I sacrificed too much for something that, in the future, won’t really matter that much at all.