1. The Pain of Puberty
Let’s face it, the trials and tribulations that puberty bring leave traumatic emotional (and maybe even physical) scars that take much tender love and care (or psychotherapy) to control. For the female, the sloughing off of the uterus lining is slightly terrifying for the first-timer. The realization that this painful ritual will happen once a month until menopause: extremely terrifying. For the males, the acquisition of a deep voice is no easy feat (See: voice cracking). Going from squeaky to booming bass comes with the task of learning to control this new power. Vastly traumatizing is the four-foot tall boy who sits next to you in math class that turns into the six-foot tall boy who sits next to you in math class, seemingly overnight. For those on the short spectrum of the gene pool, this is particularly inconvenient for navigating the halls (See: Number five). A sea of middle-schoolers becomes a sea of middle-schoolers mixed with magical overnight giants.
Sex education for the eleven year old human being is uncomfortable, to say the least. Now let me put it out there that I completely support fostering a community in which sex is openly talked about, to promote a healthy, safe, and comfortable practice. That being said, I do not think the best way to go about that is via scare tactics (See: Blue Waffle). Watching a woman give birth is also innumerably terrifying and I can imagine effective
3. School Bathroom
The public bathroom is universally feared among the human race. Now I can confidently trace this fear back to the middle school bathroom. The middle school bathroom has a smell likened to that of a hospital or a dead body. While I cannot speak on behalf of the male gender, I am going to anyways, for my thirteen-year-old brother speaks with an anxiety-ridden tone when any mention of the middle school bathroom is heard. The walls are usually covered in a sort of graffiti art that consists of an eclectic array of materials. Among these include crayon, glue, toilet paper, human feces, and saliva. Toilet paper is a rare commodity in the middle school bathroom, along with soap and paper towels (See: disease).
4. Cafeteria Food
Whenever I have the option of eating in a cafeteria of any variety, I politely, or impolitely refuse to do so for a deep-rooted fear of this dining establishment has manifested from the middle-school cafeteria. The cafeteria presents a few pressing problems. Finding a table to sit at can be most difficult for anybody, let alone the identity seeking, puberty-ridden human. I am quite certain that my rampant social anxiety is a result of the practice of finding a lunch table. Second to the social implications, the cafeteria presents highly hazardous health predicaments. Middle school is a petri dish of sickness (See: Number three) and the questionable entrees served in the cafeteria don’t strike me as entirely immune system friendly. Most of the dishes served are familiar but have the consistency of plastic. Plastic pizza was about the most I could stomach. Other notorious dishes include plastic meatballs, plastic salad, and plastic chicken tenders with the soggy variety of French fry. Also notably traumatizing are silent lunches. These lunches are served as punishment to a “misbehaving” middle school class. The entire lunch is overseen by the highest of authorities (See: principal, stereotypical intimidating P.E. coach, and math teacher). The lunch is expected to presume in complete silence in hopes that the silence will nurture deep remorse and serious contemplation. However for me, this silence fostered various nervous ticks and again, a heightened social anxiety.
Elementary school was pretty basic. No class switching was necessary so there was only one classroom to find, and by find, I mean arrive via escort by mom, dad, or other legal guardian. However middle school is the game-changer. Different subjects are taught by different teachers and consequently, in different classrooms. It becomes quickly necessary for the student to learn their way around the school. This, for most, is a skill that is not mastered on the first day. Some students find themselves arriving to the wrong classes, and in some rare instances, to off-campus facilities. This fear is refurbished every first day of school and remains with most for the rest of their lives. First days of high school, college, and work all carry the inherent fear of a new environment cultivated by the days of middle school.
6. The Introduction to Love and Other Things Like PDA
When hormones run rampant (See: 1), love is inevitably in the air, and everywhere else you look. The anxiety of receiving a first kiss stems from a few things. Obviously anything new is scary, lending to the butterflies, however many first kisses that take place in middle school are terrifying to watch, making the whole process quite unappealing, lending to massive butterflies and sometimes vomit. Regardless of whether it’s a first kiss or a 50th, middle school PDA is usually (always) scarring. The novice kissers look more like rabid animals, swapping saliva and sometimes other things (See: gum). PDA in the middle school setting is irreversible; the image of little Sally and now six-foot Billy wrestling tongues and mounted against the water fountain outside of pre-algebra is forever etched in your mind.
7. School Dances
Middle school dances are one of the most distressing events the pubescent human is subject to. These obligatory events are not dissimilar from animal mating rituals, in that they consist of the opposite sexes pulling out all the stops to impress each other. The problem is, the tastes of a middle-school student are not quite as sophisticated as, let’s say, the adult human. For the female, picking out a dress for the school dance is most pertinent. The middle-school variety of dresses usually consists of a shiny satin material in the color “bright”. Bows, body glitter, “diamonds”, large plants, and sequins are not uncommon. Hair is another major concern for both the male and female middle-schooler. Girls tend to go with ringlets that resemble a slinky or cavatappi pasta. The boys usually come in two selections: the rocker and the rapper. Now the rocker has sub-varieties that consist of the surfer, skater, etc. They all have longer side-swept hair that makes for a dreamy head toss (See: young Zac Efron and Justin Bieber). The rapper also has several varieties and in those come with spiked short hair, the faux hawk (can go either rocker or rapper), and the “fade.”
Middle School is a time of transition and with every transition phase in life comes awkwardness, discomfort, and anxiety. However with this sort of environment comes the capacity for newness. And of course with anything new comes opportunity. While your middle school days may have made you a bit neurotic, these trying times ultimately equip you with the tools needed to better navigate the real world that is full of strenuous situations, and public bathrooms.