Moving to middle school was quite a change—a bigger school, new classmates, more freedom. It was exciting, but also overwhelming. At elementary school I had found my groove; I had found a great group of friends and participated in many group activities. Sixth grade began and none of my close friends were in my classes. Everything, and everyone, was new. I did become friends with people I met and joined new school activities, but something just wasn’t right. I started to worry more about my appearance, who the “cool kids” were, why the crowded cafeteria felt lonely, and if the girls laughing behind me were laughing at me or at something completely unrelated. I began to question if people really liked me, if I was accepted, if I was happy. I had all of these worries in my head, but, for the most part, always had a smile on my face. I did not want anyone to know that I was lonely and insecure; everyone else seemed to be doing just fine.
Looking back now, I realize that middle school was kind of an awkward time for not just me, but for everyone. Many teens go through times of insecurity and struggle with self-confidence. Even though everyone else appeared to be adjusting well, most likely, many of my peers were also having a difficult time. Like me, I am sure many other students wore smiles, even when they weren’t feeling so happy inside.
Now, I look back at the embarrassing times and laugh and remember the tough moments without being upset. I look back and realize that the challenges I experienced helped me grow into the person I am today. They taught me to love myself, even on the bad days. I realize now the discomfort I felt was actually my comfort zone expanding. If you are reading this hoping to find the life hack to solve issues with self-esteem and teenage qualms, I am sorry to disappoint...there isn’t one. There is no shortcut, elevator or fast-forward button.
While there is no one-size-fits-all bBnd-Aid to fix the trials and travails of growing up, as someone who has gone through them fairly recently, I do have a few tidbits of information that you may find helpful.
While your worries may not go away overnight, you will not be going through these difficulties forever. As cliche as it sounds, know that you are enough. You do not need the approval of your peers to love your true self.
Everyday take two minutes in front of a mirror. Look at yourself and pick out a few things that you like about yourself. Take the time to appreciate the aspects of who you are that you love instead of focusing on the things that you want to change.
Walk with confidence. Even if you do not feel quite comfortable in your own skin, act like you do! Head back, standing tall. Acting the part will likely boost your self-esteem on its own.
I know it can be tough being a teenager sometimes, but don’t wish these years away. Enjoy being a kid and all that it entails. Embrace the awkward moments; don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. I think at every phase of life there will be new challenges for us. Challenges shape who we become; they are not just something to get through, but to embrace. Love you for you.
Hannah Adamson is a senior in high school. She practices meditation and takes ThetaHealing courses with Reshma Shah in Westfield, New Jersey.
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