Back to School from the Perspective of a Middle Schooler

Shared by: Kristen Brown, LCSW

“I’ve personally struggled a lot with my feelings during the time of going back to school. I often find my anxiety higher and my heart rate faster when I think about school for at least two weeks before school even starts. I get nervous, scared, and upset. I feel it’s difficult to be happy about going back to school because of how emotionally draining it can get. Not to speak of how scary it can be to try to fit in with the other kids. The truth is that I find myself comparing myself to others. Sometimes this means I begin to think I need to be a few pounds lighter, or wear more makeup, or dress more like them, or make sure I have the right backpack and shoes.

After putting in the effort to be like them, I’m still not. Trying to be like them doesn’t change that I like my tennis shoes better than their Birks, I think makeup is itchy and makes my face feel heavy, and I really, really like food. I know I should be able to be myself, I should be able to feel happy and confident but it’s difficult. Sometimes, I tell myself that It’s all in my head and that the people I’m comparing myself to are probably doing the same thing and comparing themselves to others but this doesn’t always help. In fact it has almost never helped me. So I’ve found that I have to spend my last few summer days doing things that make me feel good. For me, that means cooking, organizing things, skateboarding, sleeping and practicing.  Practicing looking in the mirror and telling myself I am beautiful inside and out and that it’s good to be unique. Even if I don’t believe it at first, I keep telling myself this because I’ve learned that eventually I’ll be able to look in the mirror and feel that I am strong, independent and confident. School is hard but I do believe it’s a great way to learn not only about the world, but also about myself. And if I could give parents out there advice, I’d tell them that the things that have most helped me prepare to go back to school, no matter how nervous I get, have been setting a routine, asking me how my day was every single day, and sticking by my side even through the hard stuff. Because you are the first people that get to help make sure your kids discover what makes them special so no matter what pressure they face they know their own worth.”

(Name Withheld)