Dear young, naïve, inexperienced little me,
How’s life?! You just entered sixth grade. Crazy, you’re a middle schooler now! Where did the time go? How did you end up in middle school? Oh, but you don’t care. You’re just excited to play sports and show off the skills you learned over the summer. You’re trying to continue to meet the exemplary, honor roll student expectation, but you’re at the age where it’s easy to get good grades. You don’t have to try because it comes naturally. You’re not living in the moment but instead looking forward to the next big thing. You also think you know everything when in reality you know absolutely nothing about the world. But I won’t judge you for it. I get it. You don’t know any better. You don’t know anything.
There is one hundred percent nothing wrong with knowing nothing. And you certainly wouldn’t care if someone told you there was. But by all means, keep doing you! You are living your best life, and I admire that. To be honest, I kind of wish I was still like that. Our world has been flipped upside down in the most unimaginable way possible. But what can I do about that? The things that happen to us aren’t always in our control, but that doesn’t mean I can stop living, and neither should you.
Just to catch you up on how drastically life changed from the beginning of middle school to now, going into high school. In sixth grade, there will be a Social Studies class that you will never forget. Yes, I know. Why would you remember Social Studies? The most boring class ever with the dullest teacher ever. But you will remember this specific class because it will be your first introduction to how dumb people can be and also how quick people are to believe what they see on the internet. You will watch CNN10 (you’re too young to know now, but Carl Azuz and his school shout-outs were the best,) and they will talk about COVID-19. What is that? A deadly virus that shut the world down. I honestly don’t know what I’m talking about, but I do know you need to make the best of life now because everything you love will be taken away in the blink of an eye. I know, crazy, right? Well, you’re going to live it in a few months.
Let’s jump from CNN10 in Social Studies in December to being in class after the teacher’s suspicious lunch meeting in March. Now, the teachers will make it seem like you are going to school online at home and will be back in the building in a few weeks. NO! Don’t listen to them. Like practically everyone at this time, they have no idea what they are talking about. They don’t know what is going on, and they don’t know what the future holds. We really are all in this together, but let’s be real, you are going to be all alone. Being an only child is tough, especially when you’re the child of frontline workers (who you admire dearly). But it’s also hard being top of the class and having people only talk to you when they need help with an assignment. Very rarely are you going to be talking to people outside your household, which doesn’t help you socially in the future.
You have been doing e-learning for a while (you’ll learn what that is a little later in life,) and things could be better, but it’s okay because you’re making it work. All of a sudden, you’re somehow in seventh grade. You’re still learning through Zoom meetings and submitting assignments on Google Classroom, but you’re enjoying eating all types of things for lunch and binge-watching shows. Seventh grade was a blur, and I can’t really tell you much about it, but it was a nice year considering the circumstances.
You’re done with seventh grade, and now we’re in eighth grade. We’re graduating this year! Woohoo! Class of 2022! Honestly, you’re just excited to graduate, leave, and go to high school. But slow down. It’s not that easy and not as great as you thought it would be.
In eighth grade, you will deal with jealous girls and fake friends. That’s new because we went from being liked by everyone to not everyone wanting to see us win, even though we always wished them nothing but the best. You’re going to deal with incompetent teachers and will end up in the principal’s office a lot because you disagree with a teacher’s teaching methods. Please don’t do this again. Being in the principal’s office almost every week is not worth it. Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut.
There will be a lot of drama involving your name, but not necessarily you. Mainly, because you chose to keep the wrong company. You were repeatedly told to keep your distance, but your pride prevented you from listening to great advice. You cared more about not hurting someone’s feelings than putting your own health and well-being first. But also the whispering was because you’re amazing and haters gonna hate. Don’t let it get to you. Though, it’s not like you ever did. But that’s just you. You don’t care. But sometimes I wish you did, even if it was just a little. We’ve always known it doesn’t matter what other people think about us, but maybe it doesn’t hurt to find out what impression they have of us. Why are they saying all these nasty things? Is there something about us that maybe needs to change? Or are we, like I said, so amazing and they can’t take it?
Somehow you make it through eighth grade despite everything and are exhausted by the end of the year. But you were Valedictorian! You go, girl! You’ve never experienced anything like being an eighth-grader. You’re glad it’s over, but it didn’t really dawn on you until the end that you’ll never see any of these people again. The people you grew up with and experienced what it’s like to live in a not-so-nice world. The people who were always there every day will no longer be there. But don’t think about that, just enjoy eighth grade. I know eighth grade will be a pain, but make the most of it because you only get one eighth-grade experience. Make it memorable for all the right reasons.
I’m proud of the person you will grow into. You will go through several life-changing experiences. You will have family members leave your side to go up above and watch over you. You will deal with a crazy home dynamic and be thrown into the middle of chaos. You will have to figure a lot out on your own. You will give school your all and work hard to make everyone around you proud. You will eventually realize it’s not worth trying to please people because along the way you lost yourself. You will have people look up to you and it will be hard to make mistakes. You will always get the short end of the stick because everyone knows you will work hard to get where you want and deserve to be. You will never give up. You will lead the pack. You will go above and beyond. You will continue to amaze people. You will never be satisfied. You will always be hungry for more. You will always overcome adversity. You will always come out as a better person.
We certainly did come out as a better person. In such a few short years, our whole life was turned upside down. But we made the best of it. We are now looking at the world through a new pair of eyes (thank you, COVID, for that), but we’re more aware. I love how we have evolved as an individual, a daughter, a friend, and a student. I know we will continue to make ourself proud.
Congratulations on all we have accomplished! Congratulations on everything we will accomplish! We were Valedictorian! (Even though we always knew that was going to happen.) We are going to St. Ignatius! (The school we didn’t want to go to but are now extremely excited for.) We are a Daniel Murphy Scholar! (Yay!) We want to be a vascular surgeon! We will be a surgeon! (I know our minds are always changing. Maybe we’ll go back to wanting to be a general surgeon.) Once again, congratulations! I am proud of you. Keep up the great work.
Lisa Hardman – Saint Ignatius College Prep – DMSF Class of 2026