Dear Kayla, (a letter to an eighth grade survivor)

Dear Kayla, (a letter to an eighth grade survivor)

Enclosed is a letter I wrote to Kayla, the focus of the movie Eighth grade, written and directed by Bo Burnham.

Dear Kayla,

Congrats on finishing eighth grade. I know it wasn't easy, but you made it. You made it past the glares and the snarky comments, whispers and eye rolls. You made it past the awkward parties, weird body odors, and ill-fitting clothing. Congrats. Eighth grade sucks, and you never have to go back.

But I would be lying if I said high school is much better. High school is just eighth grade with cars and bigger boobs. High school is just eighth grade with a little bit of freedom. Yeah, it sucks to not get invited to parties in eighth grade, but it's even worse to watch all of your peers drive to that party without you.

I wish I could say that kids become more inclusive in high school. And maybe they do by junior or senior year, but I didn't make it to that year in a regular school. I didn't make it past the rumors and awkward parties, past the oversized backpacks and crowded halls. I didn't make it past the sleepover party where I was told there wasn't enough room for me with the other girls, so I had to sleep in a different room by myself.

Wow, that sounds really sad, but honestly, pretty funny in retrospect. I probably cried myself to sleep, writing a melodramatic poem in my head about being an outcast. Probably something like: "Here I lie/ready to die/before I slumber/let me count the number/of people who hate me". Wow, I just thought of that. Like, literally just now. Wrote that in 30 seconds. Hard to believe, given the nuance and pain of those words.

Sorry, I didn't mean to make this all about me. What I'm trying to say is, if high school isn't everything you thought it would be, don't give up. They're not the best four years of your life. Far from it. They're just four years of your life. Just like the last four. If you're looking out the window during calculus, wondering if this is supposed to be your peak, good God...it's not.

I say this from personal experience. Middle and high school sucked. A lot of that had to do with me having my own issues, and a lot of that had to do with other kids having their own issues that they'd take out on me. Hell, even I took my issues out on other kids.

Another takeaway: People probably don't hate you as much as you think they do. I'm not trying to invalidate your feelings. I'm sure some people don't like you, because nobody goes through life with zero haters. But it's probably not as big a part of their life as you think it is. I recently ran into a girl from my middle school, and started the conversation by saying: "Sorry I used to suck". She looked at me, surprised. "What? You were just the diabetic girl who gave me candy". I'd like to take this moment to thank diabetes for saving my reputation.

I am 24 and pretty happy. I can't say life is perfect, but it's a lot better than when I was 14. I have friends, I'm proud of the work that I do, and I'm (usually) okay with who I am. It's crazy having friends at 24, because it's a combination of all the different cliques that existed in high school. The jocks are friends with the math team, the theater kids are friends with the goth kids. I'm friends with...real people. Sometimes I have to step back and realize that my best friends and I wouldn't have been best friends if we were 14-18. And good! I'm a better person now than I was then, so I'm glad they got to meet the current me.

High school might suck. But maybe it'll be fun. If nothing else, it'll be a learning experience. For instance, in high school I learned that I needed more therapy. Great realization.

So, have a good rest of your summer. I hope you have a good four years, but if you don't, remember that this isn't your peak. It's just the stretching you do before you climb.

Love,

Lindsay

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