As students returned to school this week, and as I attempted to gruelingly adjust my 12 hour work day schedule by ten minutes in order to avoid bus stops, I’m hit with an intense feeling of nostalgia about my own school days of past. It’s been four and a half years since I graduated from college, which culminated into ‘my moment’; high school was a moment; and middle school was a downright nightmare. In middle school I was going through that awkward puberty/identity phase, which most teenagers do, and I was bullied and teased fiercely, resulting in a mild case of trichotillomania I ended up having to work through on my own. I have always had a lean frame but back then, in my tomboy days, I had a penchant for over-sized T-shirts tucked only in the front of similarly over-sized windbreaker pants or jeans. I thought I was big business, in some respects. In other respects, I suffered panic attacks and often wanted to curl into a ball and flash forward to high school where I thought all things had to be better because TV shows and movies made it look like Xanadu compared to middle school.
High school was definitely better but didn’t really get good for me until senior year when I was known to many as a dancing phenom, my hair hit its peak, my grades were stellar, and dating became something that didn’t involve a chaperone trying to look inconspicuous in the next row of a movie theater. I have never been a clique/group type person, so I was never really an X, Y, or Z. Therefore, most of my peers knew me by my dancing and singing, my position as a TA, and my involvement in academic groups. There were many days when I wished I had the prom queen type popularity, but things didn’t work out that way, which is okay because next came college.
I went to a small women’s college and my time there was amazing. As a small college, I wasn’t just a number or a student who got lost in the shuffle. I formed bonds and relationships with my professors and peers, which I will always cherish. I declared my major in English during my first year and, after getting through general education courses, I was able to embark on my specific academic path. That path would lead me to exciting accomplishments such as presenting at NCUR, becoming president of our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, and working as co-editor of the literary magazine for my college. My dancing skill and movement vocabulary grew as a member of the school’s dance company and I made my mark as a talented choreographer. A psychology experiment I was initially unaware I was a part of first-year, where I spontaneously started performing “Proud Mary”, garnered me the nickname “Tina Turner” throughout the next four years. One of the best moments…ever.
Today I am a Modern dancer, model, and college writing tutor and those awful middle school days are far behind me, though I will still get the random Facebook friend request from a relic of the past. To any one of those students I see standing at the bus stop silently going through a similar rough patch and you feel like you’re alone: Trust me, it gets better. Stay strong.