By Amanda Vining, IATG ContributorJanuary 29, 2016
I’m 25 years old. I’ve been around the world, held conversations with Heads of State, been a guest at high profile events, and accomplished several of my lifetime goals. I’ve always been able to conduct myself with poise and sophistication. So a few weeks ago, I was shocked when I walked into a Starbucks in my hometown and found myself face-to-face with a person from my past who left me with a loss for words. As I ordered my typical grande-raspberry-mocha, I turned around to make eye contact with my middle school crush.
At the age of twelve, I would sit in math class and scribble this boy’s name across my notebooks. I would gab about him to my group of girlfriends, and I would spend countless hours rehearsing what I would say to him in my bathroom mirror. But then I went to an all-girls boarding school for high school and onto university in Texas, while he stayed in our home state of North Carolina to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. Over the past 13 years, we’ve both moved on and established our respective lives, never once communicating. I had all but forgotten that he existed until I found myself in front of him over a decade after our 8th grade graduation.
After I caught my breath, we sat down and talked over coffee for four hours. FOUR HOURS!! All of the poise and grace with which I have learned to conduct myself went out the window. Thirteen years later, I found myself just as starstruck and nervous around him as I was when was in 7th grade.
I had butterflies in my stomach, I tried meticulously to disguise how much I was sweating, and I stumbled over my words as I tried to form sentences. At age 25, I was falling apart over my middle school crush!
Of course, there are parts of middle school that I would like to forget. It’s an awkward time for everyone. It’s the time in our lives when the peer group becomes prominent, and we’re adjusting to our changing bodies, hormones, and finding our voices in the world. Sitting across from my middle school crush, I realized how much anxiety and insecurity I still harbored from my middle school years. If I was asked to tell the story of my time in middle school, I would say that I was weird, annoying, and unpopular. But listening to my crush recount his own middle school experience, I realized that we all went through something in middle school and that no one was ever really paying attention to anyone else. My crush apologized for things that I didn’t have any memory of, such as encouraging the other middle school boys to call me “A-Man-Duh.” And in return, I apologized for things that I recalled which he had no recollection of. Exchanging stories and memories, I felt as though a huge weight was being lifted from my shoulders. All of the times I look back on my middle school years and cringe, I forget how amazing and strong I have become in the past 13 years.
You can take the girl out of middle school, but can you really take the middle school out of the girl? I’d like to let go of the awkward and cringe-worthy memories, but I’ll keep the giddiness and pure joy that come with being an unjaded girl sitting across from her middle school crush.
How have you grown since middle school? Do you still embrace your youthful qualities? How? Snap a selfie that captures your 13-yr-old spirit, tag a friend, and share on social!
Amanda lives in Austin, Texas, where she strives every day to be as BRAVE and BeautyFULL as she can be. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a self-designed degree in Children’s Rights, and Duke University with a certificate in Nonprofit Management. In her spare time, Amanda can be found scouring Pinterest for her latest craft project, drinking coconut mochas in her favorite coffee shop, and advocating for sexual violence prevention on her blog, Talk About Rape (www.talkaboutrape.com.)
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.