Advice To A 7th Grade Me…
It’s been right at thirty years since I walked up the steps of the “new” Canyon Middle School into the 7th grade. At that time, the internet didn’t exist, nobody had a cell phone, and computers consisted of hazy screens and green text made by a company called Wang.
It was certainly a different pre-teen world back then.
On so many levels, I cannot fathom the world in which our kids are growing up. On other levels…well, some things never really change.
I remember middle school to be a confusing time. I cannot say that I was bullied or unpopular or poor or mistreated in any major way. (By today’s standards, we were all mistreated in some way back then.) I think I did okay on the outside. Unfortunately, on the inside, I was filled with self-doubt and confusion about my place in the world. I was confused about who my friends were and their ever changing allegiances to me and to each other. I was confused about being a “nerd” because I made good grades. Every day in athletics was a proving ground. For certain, I was confused about girls and my feelings towards the fairer sex.
In common terms, I was in full blown puberty!
If I had a chance to go back in time and send myself some tips, these would be my bullet points:
- You and your friends are in the same boat. Confused. Alone. Hormonal. It never hurts to lend someone a hug or a bit of help or a shoulder to cry on.
- Try different things. It’s okay to fail at new things. Now is the time to explore and see where your passion may be.
- And don’t worry if you don’t have a passion or know what you want to be when you “grow up.” Just keep searching. Enjoy the journey.
- Work hard and smile a lot and enjoy each and every day. There are few feelings in life quite as satisfying as the feeling of exhaustion with your teammates after a long, hard, sweaty practice. Enjoy every moment you get.
- Never call anyone a name you wouldn’t use in front of your grandma. If you have an issue with someone, discuss it to their face. Never behind their back. Nothing good comes from calling people names and you are a better person than to do that.
- If you like a girl, tell her. If she doesn’t like you back, that’s okay. It doesn’t change who you are. At least you’ll know where you stand.
- When someone shows you who they are, through their actions or their words, see them for who they are. Your true friends will reveal themselves if you pay attention. Be loyal to those who show loyalty to you. Be fair to those who are not loyal.
- It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to fail. You will learn much more from failure than from success. Failure sucks, but regret is worse.
- When you do succeed, remain humble. Lift others up with you. True leaders have the ability to bring out the best in their contemporaries.
- Do not be afraid to explore your faith and to ask questions about God and religion. Be wary of those who have it all figured out. Spirituality is a journey, not a destination.
- Do not be embarrassed when a girl likes you and you do not feel the same way. Be respectful and honest. Never mean. Nor hurtful.
And a few bullet points for today’s world:
- Social media can be a playground for those who lack confidence. And often common sense. Learn to ignore those who cannot say to your face what they can type online.
- When an adult talks, put down your device and look them in the eye. For that matter, give your peers the same respect. Engage. Joke with each other. Quit looking at your phone.
- Phones and computers and game systems are not bad in and of themselves. Learn the art of putting them down and experiencing real life.
When all else fails, just follow the Golden Rule and treat others as you’d like them to treat you. That always works!
Go forth. Have fun. And prosper!
Until next time, keep smiling.
-Dr. Parrish can be reached through his website: www.ParrishDental.com. Or by email at DrChipParrish@gmail.com.