Middle School Survival Guide
By Kadee Carder
Four-square. Glasses. Braces. Saturday morning cartoons.
Middle school was a time of firsts. First camera. First boom box. First email address…first basketball to the nose and broken glasses. Friends were fickle and the days dwindled for endless golden hours. At the small private school I attended, we would often play four-square during PE class and the girls would get into the biggest knock-down, drag-out fights over who was cheating. Some of those girls saw me as the awkward nerd; some of my friends, however, were the creative vessels I needed to get through the hours of homework and high expectations of honors classes. A small group of friends consistently stuck by me through the shimmery Texas days. Those girls and I created a story that we would play out, through free time in PE or the random recess, after-school get-togethers, and quietly passed notes between classes. The game we played actually served as the foundation concept behind my young adult book series. Girls on an adventure. High seas, runaway dreams, and, of course, extraordinary abilities.
Not every day brought sunshine and happiness. Those middle school years were some of the loneliest, as I wrestled with figuring out who I was, what I wanted, what I liked, and what I disliked. Stories – written down, pulled apart, packed back together – those brought so much comfort. Stories were there to keep me company when the clock ticked quietly in the background as I swept the driveway every Saturday. Carving up sentences, piecing the words together, matching up characters to their tasks, those puzzles kept the shadows at bay. With my friends, we would pretend we could be heroes; back home in my journals, I could continue the adventure. When I didn’t have friends around, those hidden figures could explore the universe together, with me by their side. Maybe it was lonely, but those hours provided ideas which have grown and blossomed over time into something much greater than I would ever have imagined.
My daughter is currently in middle school, facing her own adventures and challenges. We chat daily about the survival game. These few things, if I can get her to remember any of them, are what I would place on those post-it notes for a survival guide:
1)Focus on the good and remember it. Let the ‘mean girls’ and the things they say fall away.
2)Know that you are built with purpose and have been entrusted with good work to do that only you can do.
3) Concentrate more on who you want to be than your crushes and who they are.
4)Write in a journal. Save your stories and thoughts and work through them. Keep some private.
5)It’s okay to be lonely; it’s necessary to build solid friendships.
6)Don’t just grow up, grow wise.
Wisdom is the combination of knowledge along with practical application. Getting through middle school, through high school, those days take a good support system and a lot of love. Creating an encouraging environment for your middle schooler, especially, requires showing up, being willing to wait, and being willing to give second chances. Whether you are in those middle school or junior high years, or if you are the parent of one, these years are the times when they are looking for the ones who show up. Who is reliable? Who will be there? Maybe it’s you.
Fierce yet sparkly, I rally seekers to thrive in their stories. The goal is magic, the medium is ink, and the fuel is coffee. And sometimes pizza. I teach English on the university level when I'm not dancing around the living room with my family, lifting heavy at the gym, traveling the planet, or binging superhero shows.
INSURRECTION, INCOMPLETE, INDELIBLE, HERE BE DRAGONS, EARTHSHINE and non-fiction inspirational KINGDOM COME and IGNITE roll out perilous motives, twisty plots, and daring protagonists. Grab some real estate and your copy of my latest adventure, and follow along on KadeeCarder.com.
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Author of the Landry's True Colors Series, the Cecily Taylor Series, the Star Series, and Dating the It Guy.
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