I think a lot of you will agree with me when I say that middle school sucked. We were shitty people with shitty lives, who told even shittier stories about those lives. For me, middle school was especially awful. I had terrible anxiety that often manifested itself into me asking my friends, “Do you hate me?” every day, until my friends eventually did hate me.
My days were spent counting how many times my friend looked at me compared to someone else, and my nights were spent crying over the ratio I had discovered. By eighth grade I was sick of it all. I was this perfect, sweet middle schooler, stuck in the halls of hell.
So I transferred to a new school for high school. A fresh start! This school would surely see beneath the facades of all of my peers, and discover that the most popular kid, on the inside, was me. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know the school was not the problem. Buckle up, because this is going to blow you away: I was the problem. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I’m amazing, perfect, and fun to be around…NOW. But who wants to be friends with the girl who accidentally stabbed the inside of her nose with a pencil during a geometry test? I finally entertained the idea that maybe I was the problem when I was flown across the country to hike in the desert with other teens who also thought the world was against them.
I didn’t keep in contact with many of my friends after eighth grade. One ended up getting sent to the same boarding school as me, and I reconnected with a couple others over the past few years, but besides that, nothing. Until a couple Wednesdays ago.
November 22nd, my birthday. The only point in mentioning the date is so that you’ll feel guilty for forgetting this year. I had spent all of the 21st with my family, and decided I wanted to spend the 22nd with people who didn’t love me unconditionally. I texted the friend who went to my middle school and my boarding school to see what he was up to. He told me he was going out with a bunch of people who went to our middle school. I invited myself.
Is it kind of weird that I wanted to spend my birthday with people I hadn’t seen in 10 years? Yes. Is it made even weirder by the fact that most of the kids in my middle school didn’t like me? Yes. But in the past 10 years I have gotten a lot cooler. I reduced my anxiety a ton, I started to do comedy, and I definitely got hotter. Most legal adults would agree that 24-year-old me is a lot hotter than 14-year-old me. I was maybe a 5 in 8th grade, and now I’m at least a 6, or even a 6.5.
So I got dressed in an outfit that was cute, but looked like it was cute accidentally, and definitely not thought-out. I called an Uber and was on my way.
We pulled up to a bar that encapsulated Logan Square and all of its hipster-aesthetic. I walked into the bar, and recognized a group of guys all the way at the back. I felt myself getting younger with each step I took towards their table. 14-year-old me was very excited they let her into a bar.
I arrived at their table and didn’t care whatsoever that one of the guys had rejected my friend-request twice, 8 years ago. I definitely don’t still think about it, and all the 186 mutual friends of ours whose requests he did accept.
The first 30 minutes were miserable. I felt the anxiety that I thought I had abandoned in 8th grade come rushing back. I was keeping track of who was looking at me, the tones of their voices when they talked to me as opposed to one of the others, and their body language.
More of my former peers started flowing into the bar, and I increasingly questioned my decision to come. I kept eyeing the guy who rejected my friend request, wondering if I could win him over with my newfound charm.
A few of the people that came in were surprisingly nice to me, despite any animosity we had towards each other in middle school. Some even said they enjoyed my comedy and blog. As the evening went on, my anxiety dissipated. I started joking around, playing bar games, and apologizing for sucking in middle school.
After apologizing, one girl said to me, “Dude. We all sucked in middle school.” Which made me realize that maybe all of these people don’t remember middle school as the time when I sucked. Most of them probably think about it as the time when they sucked. And maybe all of these people who I thought hated me in middle school didn’t actually think about me at all.
The night ended up being very fun. People bought me shots, which I kindly turned down, and many sought me out to reminisce about 2nd grade. I have very fond memories from 2nd grade, before OCD, anxiety, and depression hit me like a triple-threat bully.
I left after 8th grade, the peak of my sucky personality. The rest of the kids stuck it out for all of high school, and came out as better friends. I remember being so surprised by the group that gathered that night. The kid that was lame in 7th grade was chatting it up with the kid that was super hot and cool in 7th grade, and my mind was blown. How are they friends now?
Maybe if I hadn’t left after middle school, I would’ve been friends with all of these people. Maybe we’d have laughed about our middle school years at a party sophomore year. Maybe we’d have cried about celebrity deaths together. Maybe I’d have a framed photo in my room of me and all of my friends at our high school graduation.
And maybe…I’m sure you’re all thinking it… I would’ve be best friends with Guy Who Rejected My Friend Request.
But probably not. I’m way too cool for him.