Saturday, January 14, 2012

Middle School

     NPR has been a linking string throughout my life. Growing up in a small town my family and I would drive decent distances to get to family places and stores; and by distances I really only mean about 15 minute to hour long drives. (For a kid, miles are a lot bigger).   
     These drives were marinated in music from all over the world or NPR. Articulate, intelligent, and assertive voices would report on the world, the daily happenings, and we were silent, soaking in the information. I grew up with radio, voice, noise, intelligence~ brilliance. Throughout my growing years, NPR remained in journeys to my nana's, to Boston, to wherever we went. Whenever my dad and I traveled, if we weren't exchanging our new music finds, we were listening to "All Things Considered", "Talk of the Nation", "This American Life", etc. Radio, a magic that has always intrigued me, and brought intellectual comfort by some means.
     Going to college, as with anyone, finding a niche or getting some genuine friends (the ones that'll stick) is somewhat of a struggle. Gaining and building a friendship base isn't so hard, but the creating and nursing relationships is a bit more demanding. After several years, I grew with a crew that I adore and besides the common interests we share, and overall bad-assedness we all posess...we all appreciate radio. We had a show together (BQ variety (2) hour) and many of our nights (even now) involve sharing and swapping stories and listening to "This American Life."
     Since coming back to Seoul, I've filled my nights with listening to the podcasts. I haven't indulged in this for far too long, and it feels like a reunion. Today I listened to episode 449: Middle school and it got me reflecting and reminiscing.
     Middle school is chaos. The biological and developmental stages aside, the social grounds and full on psychological process is overwhelming and outstanding. Emotions are constantly going though nauseating pulls and twists while discovering who you are is thrown into the equation. Granted, self-discovery is a constant class we're forever enrolled in, when your in this awkward period of your life, everything is so sensitive.
     When I was in middle school, I was a product of my musical upbringing, the Beatles, Bijork, and daily NPR. I still am that girl then, there's a definite part(s) that remains but when I think of that kid...I grow sad, but proud also. I must state, my middle school wasn't the classiest by any means. Most of the kids in my grade were sexually active, and being the most experienced was a heavy competition. I was this big-hearted girl that didn't quite fit in. I was a hexagon peg not understanding why all the pegs were squares, triangles, and squares. The "friends" I clung onto, or thought were real friends, were in their own way struggling to survive the battlefields of middle school. Imagine "Mean Girls" but... prepubescent and no licenses.  
      Episode 449 works with the theme of middle school (obviously) and the struggles, challenges, and frustrations that it includes. But it also is in regard to the brilliance of the middle school age group. I recall my seventh grade experience just sucked. My peers were their own class of evil, manipulative, dishonest, and harsh individuals. I wanted to be friends, but would get hurt or taken advantage of whenever the opportunity presented itself. They weren't friends. I still am bitter and hurt by the actions, words, and statements of those "friends." There were many times where my confidence and genuine love for people left me bruised and crying while my parents tried to console me, my sadness and confusion embraced me.
      I never thought that being "too nice" could be an insult, nor did I think (and believe) that being creative was worthy of heavy criticism. While my peers knocked back liquor or avoided pregnancy I stayed home, geeking out and studying. At the time I took my frustrations and pain out on my parents (even now I apologize for my roller-coasting behavior), the pressure that social environment brought on along with personal fear and massive outstanding influence put me in a place where I suppressed me. I remember that having bangs were really trendy, my mom would't let me cut my hair so I would pick out two thin strands of hair from the top of my hair, just so I could have them~ ridiculous.
     Emo-side acknowledged, there is a brilliance and light that middle school kids have. There's this natural dork factor where kids in the middle school age gap possess that's so honest, bare, and blunt. This place where you are becoming a junior adult and are still very much a child- vocabulary (in theory) is improved, passions more explored, and a general maturity that is directly influenced by societal and environmental pressures.
     When it comes to working with kids, I find I work best with middle school kids, the elementary and pre-teen level. Their quirkiness is inspiring and something I want to support. Being in a place where you don't feel like you fit in, and openly stating discomfort is far more scary then ignoring who you are...being able to talk and feel un-judged does a world for one's personal opinion.
     I was a weird kid, I am still a weird parents supported me throughout that strange phase, and I know this is a run-on and maybe a bit all over the place but...This American Life had me reflecting...

Parts of me will always be 12~    

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