I have been feeling a little nostalgic lately. It might be the spring season or the articles I have been reading about millennials or the PowerPuff Girls return to Cartoon Network. By the way, did you PowerPuff Yourself? You know I had to. Anyways, you know I am always sharing reflections on different things here on the blog, but usually only look back a few months or years. What if we looked back over 10 years ago?
I was 13 in 2002, before Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. For entertainment, I brought my CD Walkman to school to listen to Alicia Keys “Songs in A Minor” or read the latest edition to “A Series of Unfortunate Events” or “Harry Potter.” I got most of my news from Channel One News and preferred watching Rocket Power and As Told By Ginger instead of De Grassi and One Tree Hill. Life was pretty good.
Now my brother, who is the special guest in my photos, is 13 going on 14. I am glad to share that we have a great relationship. We actually like each other! We do not only talk about the philosophical comparisons between Drake and Kendrick Lamar, but also the source of anti-matter, the intricacies of our brains, and the latest sneakers and gadgets. Sometimes, I pause and wonder if I was this deep at 13. Advances in technology have influenced the way youth mature in ways that are really remarkable. However there are still some things that the internet cannot give you: insight. I have noted that my brother, and possibly other 13 year olds, are dealing with the same difficulties I faced at that age. These difficulties are not with school work or home responsibilities, but more with interactions and paying attention to the bigger picture. Thus, I want to share some insight with 13-year-old me.
The usefulness of your teacher is hit or miss. I respect the profession, but I had more unhelpful experiences than I would like to admit. Unfortunately, not all teachers have the gift for education and sometimes use their position to hinder a student’s progress. Whether or not you are in this situation, always focus on what you can get out of the subject or class. The goal is to finish middle school to move on. Who cares if your teacher likes you or not? It would be nice if they did, but do not use that as an excuse to allow your grades to drown. There are so many wonderful things (and bigger challenges) to look forward to. Try to develop a healthier set of priorities.
Your friends enhance your life, but do not determine your worth. All of you are at a phase in your life where you are beginning to develop your individual persona. Some will be influenced by trends, religion, or family. Respect your friends and colleagues regardless of what they choose. Do not judge a person’s choices when you do not know their story. The healthiest option is to be true to who you are. You can try new things, but do not get lost in what is popular. Being unique will always be cool.
Remember how fun P.E. was a few years ago in elementary school? It felt like extra recess. So, what happened with P.E. in middle school? True, we did not play as many games and would just run around, but that is besides the point. You need to stay active. If you are a natural athlete, it would be easier for you to keep this up. If not, find something that makes you move. Even though I was tall for my age, I was not much of an athlete. I could make shots in basketball, but never had a competitive spirit. I did love the performing arts. So, I was active in dance and music. You might have to look outside of your school to find something active you enjoy, but it is important that you find it to develop movement as a habit.
What do you enjoy doing when you do not have homework? Beyond watching TV or playing video games, how do you spend your time? You are never too young to pick up a hobby. I was always occupied with something on the weekends. From playing Roller Coaster Tycoon or Nancy Drew to recording my voice on cassettes to riding my bike or scooter to sketching Disney characters to recording skits with my siblings…I actually was rarely bored at home. You have a lot more time than you think to do what you love at 13. Do not waste it.
13 is not an easy age. I have some fun memories from middle school, but I also felt excluded and invisible at times. I have my family to thank to balance that with a wholesome home life (even though we had our share of drama too). My biggest takeaway I want to share with 13-year-old me? You never had to hide your star. You did not have to fear what you were naturally great at. There was never anything wrong with you. You were always loved.
What is one thing you would like to tell your 13-year-old self? Do you have siblings or children around this age? What do you enjoy sharing with them?
Wearing: On her – Dress made in Ghana; Michael Kors shoes; Charming Charlie earrings & rings / On him – Burlington shirt and pants; Converse
Photos by my sister Damali