We all know that being a teenager is hard work -- but being in middle school? That's really rough terrain.
Those years around 13 and 14 when you're not a little kid anymore and you're easing into teen-dom are awkward. And weird. And hard. And kind of the worst.
Even though you're all in the same makeshift 8th grade little boat together, it can often feel like you're on your own lonely island with mixed signals, mixed signs and back in the day... mixed tapes.
Here are eight things I would love to say to my middle school self:
1. Boys can be jerks.
If he won't hold your hand, acknowledge you in the halls or even look at you at school, but he likes to make out with you after school in the orange grove... he's probably not that into you.
2. School is kind of important.
It's not only a place to hang out with friends, compare cute outfits and obsess about boys. You should maybe pay a little more attention in geometry. And science. And history. And don't change that "F" into a "B" on your report card; it will not work.
3. Don't let people talk you into doing things that don't feel right.
Boys, girls, adults... anyone. Trust your gut and trust your instincts.
4. Your family loves and cares about you.
Stop ducking down in the back seat when dad tries to be nice and drives you to the movie theatre because HOW EMBARRASSING. Listen to your grandparents stories on a Sunday afternoon. Tell Mom how your day really was.
5. You are not fat.
Oh my God, you are so not fat. Please stop being mean to yourself.
6. It will get better.
Your skin/hair/period/teeth/hair will eventually work themselves out.
7. This look is perfection.
Lavender striped shirt with the ruched collar, lacquer earrings, perfectly-feathered hair, Jordache Jeans? You are so awesome.
8. We're all in this together.
Look around you and know that every boy and girl is feeling just as unstable and unsure as you are right now. No one else is thinking about how you messed up because they are all worrying about how they messed up.
Of course there are a million other things I'd want to tell that girl in the picture. Like the wings on that hair are gearing up to fly away and become gigantic and awe-inspiring. That she should hold onto the art of note writing over texting, typing over tablets and savor looking up, out and straight ahead over down into a glowing screen.
So, the mids are hard. Right now, I'm in my mid-40s, which I guess is midlife. And I'm still having questions about boys (I have two small ones), having new issues with my skin/hair/period and it's a continued effort trying to be nice to myself.
I thought about telling the girl in the photo that she doesn't end up marrying Mick Jagger, Adam Ant or Simon LeBon, but I don't want to crush her spirit.
Lori's website, Drawn to the '80s, is where her 5 year old draws the hit songs of the 1980's. Her blog, Once Upon a Product, is where she writes about her love of beauty products, food and Mick Jagger.