This month my daughter celebrates her 18th birthday. She shares her birthday with her 1 year old cousin, Jacob. We were blessed to spend some time with them last week, so we celebrated the birthday twins.
As I sat there singing Happy Birthday to them both, I was blown away by how quickly the time passed. It seems like she just turned a year old, sticking her face and hands in her birthday cake.
For those of you who are tweens, teens or the parents of them, the days go slow, but the years go quickly. I thought it might be helpful to interview my daughter about her middle and high school years. So, it is my privilege to introduce you to Laura, high school graduate and soon to be college freshman.
What was the best part about middle school?
Getting out! (she laughs). FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) was really fun because it was something I could be involved in and meet a great core group of people. I was able to join the leadership team and have an influence on my campus.
What was the hardest part of middle school?
The hardest part of middle school was finding a friend group because everyone is trying to find their own. Kids came from three different elementary schools to our middle school, so there were a lot of new faces. I found a lot of times you’d think you were friends with someone only to learn they weren’t really a friend at all.
If you could give one piece of advice to your middle school self, what would it be?
Find your identity in the Lord instead of other people. Lean on your family and those who have been friends for a while, who really know you.
How different did you find high school from middle school?
High school gave you a lot more freedom ( i.e. You were not walked to the lunch room). I made new friends coming from other schools. There were more people in the school to make friends with because they came from multiple middle schools. A lot of people developed new friend groups. Some people you were friends with in middle school weren’t necessarily the people you spent time with in high school. Once you can drive, then you hang out more with friends outside of school.
Was it harder or easier to find your place in high school?
It was a lot easier. People acted a little more mature and people became more independent so their choices were more their own and not what everyone else was doing.
Did you ever have a “mean girls” situation?
In middle school I did. It wasn’t fun. People I thought were my friends proved not to be. They talked about me behind my back. It’s not always mean girls, but mean boys too. Don’t pay attention to things immature boys say, trying to sound cool or mature. Gossip is the root of it all. Just don’t listen to it, and don’t do it yourself.
If so, when and how did you handle it?
I talked to some of my friends from church and my small group leader, but kept some things to myself. That only worked for a while. Then everything changed when I talked to my mom. TALK TO YOUR MOM! (She said to make sure I put that sentence in all caps and bold print.)
A friend of mine asked my mom if I’d talked with her this week about something bothering me. Since I hadn’t, my mom decided to confront me. She checked me out of school telling me I had an appointment. When we got to the car I asked her who my appointment was with and she told me her. She took me to Starbucks for treats and then we drove home and sat on the sofa for hours talking and crying.
Everything came spilling out and my mom just listened. She was there for me. As we talked I realized I needed to find my identity in Christ and not what other people were saying. I stopped trying to fit in and focused on just being me. I realized I liked who I was. Going through this experience made high school easier.
How did you navigate the whole boy or boyfriend situation?
After my big deal in eighth grade, I just didn’t want to date. I knew personally I wasn’t at a place where I would date and could handle it appropriately. I trusted God to bring a guy into my life when and if it was time for me to date. It didn’t happen in high school and I was at peace with it. I had guy friends who I would hang out with and they would take me to dances if I needed a date. It took all of the pressure off and I still had a good time.
I had the greatest time at my senior prom. My closest guy friends either had work or sports commitments so they weren’t available to take me to the prom. I was totally prepared to go solo with my friends; however, my brother, who is two years older than me and in college, offered to take me. We went and had more fun than anyone. I didn’t have to worry about anything inappropriate or how I looked when I ate. It was so much fun.
I didn’t write off all guys; I just chose not to date.
Do you feel liked you missed out on anything based on your decision not to date in high school?
Uh, yeah, I missed out on heartbreak and drama! (She cracked up laughing).
Do you feel like the choices you made in middle and high school had an impact on college?
Yes. I have some solid friends I met in middle school and high school that I’m going to college with. Thru my experiences in both middle and high school, I know who I am as I head into college.
Any other advice before we close?
Dress modestly because dressing in a way that shows off your body only sends the wrong signals about you to guys. A guy’s respect for you drops if you dress immodestly. You’re no longer seen as just a girl a guy can have a conversation with, but seen as someone putting yourself out there in an inappropriate way. Guys will see that as an invitation for things you may not want. It’s just not smart.
What are you looking forward to in college?
I’m looking forward to gaining more independence, discovering more about who I am, and becoming the person God wants me to be. Oh, yeah, and I’m also looking forward to football. Go Dawgs!