When I look back on middle school, I do not seem to remember much of the pain and trials often associated with the awkward adolescent phase loathed by most. Actually, I remember eighth grade being especially meaningful as I discovered more about my interests and myself.
Growing up, my family moved around many times but for all of middle school, we were living in northern New Jersey - nearly 45 minutes from NYC. I had a great group of friends who were devoted, supportive and fun. I remember a lot of laughter, sleepovers and more than a few nights testing our limits with looted alcohol. It really was a sweet season of life with a normal dose of dumb decisions and social drama. I can still remember the crushes I had, the sweatshirt I wore too often and the bus I rode home every day after school.
At this time in my life, I was really immersed in soccer. I was on a fairly competitive team and most of my best friends also played with me. It was lots of late-night practices, intense workouts, desire to improve and team comradery. While I was not the player who scored the goals, I was reliable, consistent and hard-working; I played defense. For good or for bad, I centered a lot of my identity in soccer and my role on the team. I would say that within my community and according to myself, I was known for being a pretty good soccer player.
However, soccer was not my sole focus, I was also really into music. I am not sure if this something you can be "good" at, but I remember that 8th grade was particularly important in my personal music education effort. I believe that I was really good at intentionally learning about new genres of music - both new and old. This was a year that I worked really hard to have a foundational understanding of musical influences by learning from my older sister, my parents, my friends, documentaries, and of course, the internet. Musical influences like The Doors, Queen, Conway Twitty, Blondie, Bessie Smith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Clash, Johnny Cash, Metallica, Patti Smith, Chicago, The Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, The Talking Heads, and Joan Jett will always be associated with that year of my life.
I am not sure if I would want to relive my eighth-grade experience over again, however, reflecting on this writing prompt brought faces of old friends to mind. When I think I the people around me during this phase of life, I am once again grateful for the friends I made and the experiences I had.
What’s one task you hope to accomplish today?
What will happen if it doesn’t get done?
Photography by Madly Photography