I miss middle school. I really, really do. I don’t miss it for the curriculum or the workload or anything like that, I miss it for what school used to feel like.

Eighth grade was an incredible year for me. It was very rough, of course, as every year of middle school was. Preparation for high school was ensuing and it was a pure chaotic stress-filled world. But all of us frazzled, sleep-deprived, overthinking humans were all the same way, together. School felt like a haven, because being so close with everyone made it feel safe. I would go to math, my worst subject, and because everyone was on the same boat as me, because everyone was so easily relatable, I would be laughing my head off in that class and still getting 100% because for some reason, we all got each other.

But those days, that once seemed like they were mindless and endless, are long over. Freshman year isn’t just different, it’s about a million times harder.

I am in this state of realizing that everything is changing, or maybe, rather, everything has already changed and I am supposed to just somehow magically be okay with that. I’m not okay with it. Any of it.

See, high school isn’t what I expected. It’s not because of the rigorous workload, because we have been trained for that for years now. It is because of the space. I am so prominently feeling this odd, weirdly-shaped space between me and everything that has ever made me who I am. I used to fit into that space like a crevice in a sidewalk, like a piece to a puzzle. I used to fit. Now, though, that space has turned into something oddly misshapen and too small, yet also too large, for me to snuggle into.

I looked around my school the other day, and I just stopped in front of my locker, and thought, where are all of my friends? It’s a stupid question, but I didn’t feel so stupid for thinking it. Really, I have been feeling as if my closest friend these days, is myself. I am finding it much more difficult to keep the pace with all of my friends, because we are all so busy and moving in different directions all at once. People who I was once so, almost sisterly, close with, are seeming to drift away like nothing has ever happened between us. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s there.

These spaces between me and my old friends, between me and my old passions and dreams, are really damn uncomfortable. And they sting, too, in a weird way. The spaces sting. I feel like I’m missing something that everyone else has already figured out. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here, nostalgic about the old family I had created for myself, that is now gone. My “person”, or multiple people, really, don’t feel like they’re my people anymore. Nothing is the same, and maybe that’s good, but I just haven’t figured out exactly how it’s good, yet.

I really hope that I do. Soon. I mean, what is there to live for if all you have is a blank space where everything you loved used to be? I have so much room for new things, but none of those new things have entered yet.

As the new (brilliant) One Direction song states, as Niall’s angelic and heartbreaking voice sings:

The spaces between us
Keep getting deeper
It’s harder to reach her
Even though I’ve tried
Spaces between us
Hold all our secrets
Leaving us speechless
And I don’t know why

Who’s gonna be the first to say goodbye?

never grow up

I was recently listening to some old Taylor Swift on the plane ride back from my latest trip to Toronto and New York, and albeit I’m a little embarrassed to say that I started tearing up on that airplane, thanks to Ms. Swift. See, two of her older songs will always remain to be some of my favorites. “Never Grow Up” and “The Best Day” are these two terrific songs.

I’m coming to the abrupt realization that I am slowly growing up. Yes, I am not going to be fifteen forever. I am going to come into myself. I am going to be that mortified little girl half of the time, who was too reticent to even make smalltalk with my mom’s friends, but I am going to also be the confident and new person I am slowly growing into. I have always felt so out of place in my world. I’ve felt like I have some subtle difference within me, as I am a monster in a sea of aliens. I don’t know exactly how to accurately explain my unfaltering, consistent uncomfortableness, but it had always been there, sort of sitting in the pit of my stomach at grotesquely dull middle school parties, at late night, unbearably extraverted soirees my mom threw when my dad was out of town, at the youthful cheer that occurs when summer begins.

I’ve always felt a bit different, a bit more unsure of why everyone else seemed to feel a common emotion that I wasn’t. It was only very, very recently that I have come to understand that every person I know is uncomfortable, especially right now. I used to secretly have the notion that all of my friends’ brains thought at exactly the same pace, in the same exact way. I used to think that these emotions spread like the flu, and I somehow got a vaccine when everyone else had yet to. A vaccine for being young.

What I am trying to say is that I have always been more interested in activities, that are seen as things that being a “grown up”, or a “big kid”, entails. While my best friends were fondling the idea of crushes and the most naive form of flirting, I was called the class bookworm when I read To Kill a Mockingbird in fourth grade. When I came to seventh grade, suddenly, so suddenly, everyone was obsessed with scrutinizing everyone else’s flaws, everyone else’s statuses in popularity, in relationships, in every little details, details I truly never even observed. I felt as if I had been shoved into this completely paradoxical world, a world where I was expected to instantly pick up on the new game of the year: popularity, but not let my confusion ever show. The social ladder was one I had no interest in climbing. That was only until the slight intuition that slithered its way into my confusion: all of my friends were moving on without me.

And so I jumped onto the train, not because it looked particularly grand or enticing, but because it seemed to be the only route to what we assumed was maturity. Maturity being aging, maturity being nothing but what we assumed was true, what we saw on TV and what we were corrupted by society to think. But we weren’t growing up. We were being middle schoolers. We were being immature. No one likes to point this out, yet I notice when we all sit around a fire and the topic of middle school comes up, a fear creeps in that everyone will somehow remember who we used to be. Who we used to be is who we are desperately trying to leave behind.

I spent all of my childhood feeling older than I was. Now, though, I feel so incredibly stuck in immaturity. I want to grow up, but I also want to stay in the blissfully ignorant, beautifully naive time of being a child. Adolescence is the epitome of feeling uncomfortable. I don’t quite know where I belong yet. I am not one to categorize myself into a specific part of my school where I belong.

I used to be obsessed with defining myself as one, great thing. Now, though, my views have erratically shifted. I recently read this transformative quote by the German writer Franz Kafka. This quote is very accurate about I how I feel so strongly, about myself:

I never wish to be easily defined. I’d rather float over people’s minds as something strictly fluid and non-perceivable, more like a transparent, paradoxically iridescent creature rather than an actual person. 

This is my idea of how I am slowly, slowly, growing up. I am not letting myself be defined by one aspect of me anymore. I am shifting from my “thing” to my many things. I don’t want to be defined anymore. I want to just be me. Me is enough, now. I have so many passions, so many interests, and I hate this world because there is never enough time to do everything that I want to do, that I want to experience. Everything is so quick and bittersweet and unfair but beautiful and vast and endless, but it does end. The world isn’t meant to give you a career as a surgeon, and as a Broadway star. You pick one or the other. And yes, of course there are the lucky ones like Emma Watson and Lea Michele and Alexa Chung, or whomever you want to look at, but in the end, we are all determined by the one thing we choose to exhaust ourselves for. The one thing we would die for.

Everyone is looking for a home, their home. Some find their homes in the arts, in passion, in love, in whatever it is they would die for. But I feel as if I have multiple homes. Is that okay? Can I have divorced homes that are best friends? Please?

So, growing up is finding your home, to me. And I’ve yet to ground myself in one thing, but as I try, I know, that everyone else is trying too. And what is so wrong with that?

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