Dear Middle Schooler,

Dearest, I know you’re under a lot of pressure right now. I know what they’re telling you to be. I hear you as you’re stressed out about trying to be pretty enough, trying to fit in, trying to find someone to love you, and trying to balance your friends, school, and your weird family. You’ve got pressures coming at you from all sides, and I know you’re struggling.

You’ve just hit “the awkward stage” so nothing seems to come out right or look right and you’re still trying to figure yourself out, but it’s hard because everything is changing so fast. Sometimes you think you’ve got it all together and figured out, but then you feel like everything is falling apart.

I hear you talking in the backseat of my car, “Oh my word, I am so dumb.” “I can’t believe I said that. I am so stupid.” “Will it make me prettier? I’m already ugly enough.” “I can’t have anymore. I am too fat.”

Darling, my heart is breaking for you. This is not who you are.

I’m going to tell you a secret – you will always struggle with these things.

Yes, you learn that maybe curls are not a good idea or that you really shouldn’t wear those pants. You learn how to hide the pimples and cover up the crooked tooth when you smile. You learn how to pretend like you’re balancing all the relationships in your life. You learn how to flirt without falling over (maybe). The mood swings get a little better. You learn to blame sadness on Dementors so you have an excuse to eat more chocolate. But unless you change the things you claim about yourself, you will always feel a little ugly, a little too fat, a little stupid, a little lonely.

Everything is awkward right now, but everything about you is also so very good. You, my darling, have bad moments, but that never takes away from the fact that, at the very core, you are made up entirely of good things. I was blessed with amazing parents who taught me these things, but I don’t see this in your life, so sit down and prepare for a lecture of the most loving sort. Because you, my sweet human, are worth this and so much more.

Ahem. Are you paying attention?

Write these words on your heart. Soak them in and let them change how you see yourself, how you talk about yourself, and how you see others.

You are good things. You have bad moments.

You are good things. You feel bad things.

You are smart, but sometimes you have dumb moments. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have dumb moments. You can’t always be the smartest person in the room or have all the answers. You’re not always going to be smart in the same way other people are. But that moment is temporary. When it comes back down to it, and you’re back in your element, at the core of who you are, you are smart.

You are beautiful, but sometimes you feel ugly. And that’s okay. It’s okay to feel ugly. Feeling is honest. You feel the way you do and there’s nothing wrong with that. But feelings are also temporary. When it comes back down to it, once the feeling is gone, at the core of who you are, you are beautiful.

You are a mountain of good things. You were created with loving care by a Creator who never makes mistakes. He formed your body, your heart, your brain, and He made every inch of you immensely precious and wonderful. You, precious one, are His loving creation. You are created by The Artist. You are covered in His fingerprints, surrounded by His love, and cherished beyond measure.

It’s okay to have bad moments and bad feelings, as long as that’s all the are. The way you feel is the way you feel. It’s honest. If you feel angry, feel angry. But don’t let it become who you are. If you feel fat, feel fat. But don’t buy into the lie that you are fat. If you feel ugly, feel ugly. But when the feeling passes, remember that you are a priceless, handmade, glorious piece of art.

It’s completely okay to feel things. It’s not okay to become them.

Next time you’re in the backseat of my car, I want to hear, “Oh my word, I feel so dumb.” “I can’t believe I said that. I feel so stupid.” “Will it make me prettier? I feel ugly right now.” “I can’t have anymore. I feel too fat.”

I’m okay with those things. My heart will still break for the frequency with which those words come out of your mouth, but I know that, as you grow more comfortable with yourself and who God made you, those feelings will be less prevalent.

Darling, at the end of the day, if you hear nothing else, know that you are loved beyond measure and you’re okay. Whatever you feel and whatever you struggle with and whatever you believe about yourself, you are okay. Hang in there. The awkward stage does end. Eventually.

Dearest middle schooler, you are good.

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I Don’t Even Want to Name This

I’m not sick anymore.

Backpacking was fun. I got terrible blisters, and I felt like I was drowning the whole time, but it was wonderfully good. We were in a beautiful area, and I was with people I liked.

Also, backpacking is stupid.

I came to that realization while we were in the middle of our trip.

Think about it – basically, you’re leaving all the comforts of home, going out to the middle of nowhere, asking for all the bugs to feast on your tender flesh, carrying the  equivalent weight of a small child on your back, and walking in circles. That sounds so extremely dumb to me.

But I also really like it. I don’t know what that says about me.

Confession – mostly I just really like the excuse to pee in the woods. It’s my favorite thing.

Also, I’m getting better at bowling.

I’ve gotten really close to breaking 100 several times. I actually did break it twice. I mean, I got a 102 and a 104, but that still counts.

Also, I hate wallpaper.

I’m currently ripping down all the wallpaper in our back hallway, and things aren’t going so well.

First off, I have a lot of trouble getting the stuff at the top of the wall.

I have to stand on a stool to reach it, and I keep falling off.

It’s not my fault (maybe it is just a little)! I listen to music while I work, and sometimes I start dancing and fall off. Or I get really excited about something random, and I fall off. Or I start talking to someone with too much attitude, and I fall off. You know, things just happen that make it really hard to stay upright.

And then there’s the problem with the wallpaper itself.

It’s two layers of wallpaper that were very poorly stuck on top of each other. Not only that, it’s that gross, super thick, 70s, paper wallpaper stuff. And the bottom layer is roughly the color of puke.

I have magic spray stuff, but it doesn’t get through all the layers. I also have a chisel that I attack  the wall with. That seems to work. Sort of.

I spray the wall, scrape off the top half of the top layer, spray the wall again, scrape of the bottom layer of the top stuff, spray the wall again, threaten the wall with death and destruction, attack the second layer, get most of its top half off, spray the wall again, get almost everything off, take a moment to cry large tears of agony and frustration, spray the wall again, and finally get everything.

It’s a process.

The Exercise Equipment is Out to Get Me

Endorphins, baby. I love ’em!

But I hate working out. I hate it a lot. In fact, I think I might loath it.

It’s not one of those passive, “Oh, yeah. Working out. I don’t like that.” kinds of things.

It sounds more like, “AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please don’t make me! I don’t want to! I’m sick! *cough* *cough* I’m sure it’s the flu. I’ve got homework. I don’t have any clean socks. Please. Anything. Is that a swollen lymph node? I’ve got Black Plague. I can’t go.”

Usually, I get away with it. I look at Mary with pitiful eyes and tell her I have too much homework, but she’s got me figured out now and she’s not buying it. I’ve actually been forced into physical activity several times this semester. I think it’s going to kill me.

See, we work out a The Fit, which is the gym on campus, and it has all these machines that are absolutely terrifying.

There’s this thing called an elliptical which is, basically, the King of the Instruments of Death. You stand up on these foot things and it’s supposed to simulate walking.

Nope.

First, they put the things you stand on (I don’t even know what to call them) about 500 feet off the ground. AND THEY MOVE. You get one foot on them, and they try to slide out from under you and dump you off. It’s like riding one of those bulls at the fair. Actually, it might be more like trying to get on one. I’m not sure. I’ve never actually ridden one.

If you can get up on it, you still have to figure out how to work it. There are a million buttons on ours. And it’s not like walking. I don’t care what they say. When I walk, I go somewhere. This is like marching in place, but your feet go in circles. That makes no sense, but it’s the way it is.

Sometimes, I get in the groove of using this thing and forget that I’m supposed to be stationary. This is when I fall off because I try to walk off the front. That doesn’t work very well. Then, I have to climb back up on it and keep walking because, at this point, I’m trying to save my pride. Seriously, who falls off an elliptical?

Oh, and then there are the bikes. We use the bikes a lot. I don’t know why.

It’s like someone decided, “We’re going to put these stationary bikes in the gym, but lets make their seats the hardest, smallest, most uncomfortable seats we can possibly manage to find.” I really think they had to go searching to find such uncomfortable seat thingies.

Riding the bikes is fun, but you can’t do it for more than about 15 minutes. If you’re brave and you go past it, your bum will get numb and your chances of falling of increase drastically. I’ve seen it happen. It might have also happened to me.

And, if you ride for forever, when you finally get off the thing, you won’t be able to walk. Who knew you needed to have a functioning rear end to be able to walk? Crazy, I know.

Medicine balls, though, are amazing. Our gym is two stories and there are lots of places where it’s totally and completely possible to “accidentally” drop one of those things on someone’s head. I think we have a ten pound one, as well. At least, I know we have an eight pound one.

Thinking about that, I’m pretty sure that could kill someone. Never mind. Idea discarded. But I still want to drop one.

Doing exercises with these things, however, is not amazing. They make your arms really tired.

But, we figured out tonight, if you ever want to know what it’s like to be pregnant and carry around an eight pound baby, just stick one of those up under your shirt. Your back will hurt in no time flat. I’m never having children (lies).

Treadmills. I hate them. Whoever invented them should die. Slowly. And painfully.

For me, they only have two speeds – Kenyan Marathon Runner and Crazy Slow. Obviously, I am not a Kenyan Marathon Runner. As much as I would love to go Crazy Slow, that is excruciatingly boring.

Now, for everyone else in the world, they’re remarkably simple to manage. Looking around the room I see all the people going different speeds that are completely comfortable for them.

Me? I’m standing on the edges looking terrified as the tread whizzes by at speeds fast enough to outrun any Large Jungle Animal.

To me, this seems a bit pointless because, if I’m ever running from a Large Jungle Animal, I will not be alone and I can trip the other person and then walk away. No running required.

So, the only way I can manage a treadmill is to go all Kenyan Marathon Runner until I can’t breath any more (maybe two minutes) and then swap to Crazy Slow until my heart rate is in a more manageable range (20-30 minutes). And then, after I do this twice or so, I get angry at it and go find a medicine ball to throw at something.

So, I hate working out. But I really like eating cookies afterward without feeling guilty. Nom nom.