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13 Ways to Survive 8th Grade
Author's note: I went to a program called Odyssey, which is a gifted center, and had a tough time getting through 8the grade with all thee immense struggles that occurred. I wrote this to help thee next batch of kids.
Reflection. Something that I have been doing a lot of lately. We think of reflection as a mirror image or to contemplate the past. I have been reflecting on my 8th grade year. To some, 8th grade sounds ominous and terrifying and to others a new, mature adventure. I feel that both are true. Middle school can be the set up of the habits and interests that will define your life forever, or a year wasted that you would not redo for anything. Taking in as much wisdom from those that have gone through 8th grade is your best bet at actually enjoying a year most try to forget about. Since Odyssey is so much smaller and (hopefully) friendlier than a normal middle school, your experience will be different. This has it benefits and downsides. You get really close to everyone, but by the end, you begin to get sick of each other. Other pros and cons will be outlined throughout the rest of this book. I hope that you will begin to understand just what 8th grade is all about and the best way to enjoy it and live it to the fullest.
A survivor (of Odyssey 8th grade that is!)
We all hear that being popular is pointless and for the most part, that’s correct. You don’t want to be friendless either. I figure that if you are nice to people, have some close friends that you can call and hang out with, and have the ability to be independent, you will have the greatest time. To go through middle school needing a boy or girlfriend, is a) stressful, and b) unhealthy. I will further indulge in this topic in survival guide tip number four. When you are sad or happy or just need a shoulder to lean on, it really helps to have at least a few close friends. As my friends say, “When times get rough, have friends that you can get in massive cake fights with!” Cake fights truly are the best. Those close friends allow you to be able just be crazy and forget about everything stressful and complicated.
The sooner you begin to enforce this habit, the better. All you really need to do is focus. If you get a snack, some water, sit, down, and organize everything, you will be done before you know it. Some kids have after school activities or appointments. You can still get everything done if you plan in advance. After getting situated, take out all your textbooks, notebooks, and paper. Create three piles. One for things that you can’t do anything (and I mean anything!) on, one for homework due within the next week, and a third for everything you could do to get ahead, whether that’s rewriting your notes (if you take notes) or getting a head start on a big project that isn’t due for a while (such as creating a personal due date timeline). Go through pile number 2 and write down all of the due dates on a planner or calendar. This helps to show what you need to get done first. Remember to also right down anything you have personally made due, such as a big project with mini due dates that you set up for yourself. Work through all this homework in the order that it is due. Once you have worked through all this homework, you will have everything that is due soon done. In a worst case scenario, you won’t finish, but you will have done what is due soonest because you worked on it first. After finishing all the first pile of homework, put it away in your backpack, hopefully in a folder for things to turn in. Having a folder to put your homework in helps too. Go through your third pile and order it from which is most important or due first. You can take a quick break between piles or even eat dinner if necessary. By the end of doing all this, you will have less to do later in the week, over the weekend, and will be more prepared for class. You will also be better equipped for any unexpected interruptions in your schedule. Some nights, you will be too tired to do anything else after finishing ALL of your homework, or you might have an hour till you crash and go to bed. Now that you have everything done, you can do whatever you want without looking at your homework guiltily. This habit will also help you in high school and keep you on track, so you don’t have any missing assignments.
If you practice your instrument every night or color you’re a graph when you didnt’t have you to, your teachers will like you a lot more and will be more lenient with you when you really need it. Also, you will be better at everything you do because you put the extra energy into it. It’s a win-win situation.
Flirting is okay. It’s practically mandatory in middle school ;), but don’t get tied down. It’s not worth it. It’s stressful. And stupid. And even though guys and girls are getting cuter and taller and more mature, the opposite gender is still stupid or gross or both (boys…. Cough cough)! We may want that closeness or intimacy, but it only last for a little while and it most often ends badly. I know that for some of my friends (and sadly me), you can get what I call “addicted” to that closeness, that constant attention, but all that comes of it is heartbreak, dependence on someone else, and unwanted drama. I’m still dealing with the after affect, though I have stopped dating. Lot’s of teenagers think that if you like someone, you have to ask them out or go further, but truth be told, you don’t. Its okay to talk to them, or be friends with them, or even as lame as this is, admire them from a distance. We don’t all have to date, especially when there are so few of us to start off with. Some guys think that telling a girl you love them will help and possibly make them love you back, but it just confuses things. Girls do it too. You know that you like someone more than just crushing on them, but would you really commit to be with them or be there for them? Whatever you and your family define as love is definitely not something you want in middle school. I do believe that you can fall in love in middle school, but the timing kind of sucks. You don’t get to go very far with them, you are sometimes only dating them the rest of your life, and you have to wait forever before you can be fully committed. We sometimes use the word “love” as a word to just say that we like someone a lot for a lack of a better word, but keeping love and all those emotions out of the picture is definitely worth it.
Seems basic enough. I know that when I was in seventh grade, I never imagined the thought of intentionally hurting myself. Kind of seemed stupid? It is. The problem is that when you cut, you don’t think that it’s stupid. Most people think that is necessary. In the moment, it seems like the only way or the best way. What really happens it that you permanently damaging yourself, create an addiction, and you damage your emotions. Most use cutting as a way to distract themselves from something stressful or unhappy or as a punishment on themselves. It may distract you for a little bit, but a) it doesn’t solve the actual problem and b) creates new problems. Some say that it is their only way of coping and others ask the question, “What else would I do?” Psychologists suggest another outlet to express your emotions. Most struggle with writing in a diary or drawing. For me, exercising doesn’t work because I will just overwork myself, just causing me to hurt myself in a different form. Talking to your parents truly does help solve most troubles. They are wise and have gone through a lot of life. If you aren’t getting the support you need or aren’t comfortable enough with your parents knowing the situations you may get into, then talk to someone older. An older sibling, a friend’s parent, a teacher, anyone!! Your peers haven’t been through or experienced enough time on this Earth to help you to the degree you need and are no wiser than you. Also, taking a step back and really analyzing the problem does work. It gives you time to calm down and think of possible solutions. It helps to keep you from jumping into cutting or self harm. Whatever you do to keep your self away from any type of cutting or self harm will make everything a lot simpler.
This doesn’t mean that you have to tell them your friend’s secrets (unless that is stressing you) or who you have a crush on. This just means to tell them about upcoming events or things that are bothering you. If you aren’t close enough to your parents, try to get closer. They are so wise and are really helpful in sticky situations. Most often, they want to know about your life and help you out. Talking to them when they aren’t stressed or busy always helps them be more open to talking and helping you out. Parents can give you all sorts of useful information. 9 out of ten teens say that they would have avoided sexual activity if they were able to just talk to their parents more openly. I tried rebelling or what I thought was being more independent from my parents. I ended up loosing their trust in me and they ended up not believing me big issues because of everything I had been doing to try to distance myself from them. I slowly earned their trust back and found it to be way less stressful, for we stopped arguing and I am able to do a lot more with more freedom.
Our adolescent years are full of discovering who we are. This can include hanging out with new people or trying a different style. The process of figuring out ourselves helps us to feel confident and begin to fit in or stand out and most importantly, become confident in our own skins. Just remember to be open to new ideas (including other peoples) and to stay true to what you believe in.
When you are having a bad day or aren’t feeling too good, don’t take it out on other people. This doesn’t mean that you can’t express your feelings, but not constantly complaining or over-sharing definitely makes people (especially guys!) want to hang out with you a lot more. Being optimistic, even when the worst of middle school is thrust in your face all at once, will help you stay strong and make the right decisions. Since Odyssey is so small, you have to watch what you say because news travels fast and can be used against you later. I have said plenty of stupid stuff and figured out that if you make a joke about it and laugh about how stupid the whole thing was, people are a lot more likely to laugh it off with you and forget. Being nice just means that you should say hi to teachers and staff, compliment other people, and NOT hold grudges. Holding a grudge will just waste your time and possible new experiences and memories. Life is too full of new adventures to dwell on the past.
When you get bored over the summer, on weekends, or when your friends aren’t available, you want to have something to do. Once you have done everything you can school/homework related, look and see what you like. This may be drawing, exercising, downloading/listening to music, or playing your favorite sport. Hobbies also can help you relieve stress, boredom, and improve your skills at something.
Since Odyssey offers PSAT in 8th grade, most of you will take it in this upcoming year. Technically, the score won’t hurt you in life, but it can get you scholarships and prepares you for the SAT. By going to the official SAT site, you can sign up for the Question a Day program. This will email you a SAT question everyday and you can answer it. It also allows you to see the correct answer and what percentage of people got it right. Just answering one of these easy questions everyday will help you get used to and understand that specific style of question and will definitely help you get the best score you can.
I know that summer is supposed to be a time to relax. The problem is that during those 2 and ½ months of bliss, you totally forget almost everything that you learned in the past year. This doesn’t affect you as much in subjects like Language Arts or history, especially when you have a summer project, but most of us don’t practice Algebra over the summer besides the super easy packet you get at the beginning. Doing a worksheet every week would really help you stay refreshed. It will definitely impress your teachers and will get you ahead of everyone else. Another thing to look into doing over the summer is SVL. That’s Spokane Virtual Learning. What it allows you to do is take high school classes for full credit online. Health and Fitness are two of the big classes. If you do it over the summer, you only have to take the class for 7 weeks, rather than 14 if you take it during high school or during the school year. Though it cost about $175 per class during, where as it’s free during the school year, the class time is a lot shorter and you have more time during the day. Just by taking SVL, your high school schedule will free up and you won’t have to take PE in high school. I would make sure not to take anything if there is an alternative. This can include the option of doing a sport in high school that will count as a Fitness credit or taking Health Medical Sports Science rather than Health. I still believe it is a great way to stay in shape, if you take Fitness and get some of high school out of the way.
When you don’t get something in Geometry (which will happen a lot) and need help, go in early to talk to Mike. He will explain everything in whatever method you need to completely and totally understand how all of mathematics works. That was only slightly exaggerated. It will also show Mike that you really do want to get a good grade and are willing to work hard for it.
There is no point in missing out on life. 8th grade is no exception. If you enjoy the days you have with all of your friends and try to live your life to the fullest, no matter what grade level you are in, than you will be so much happier and have so many more joyful memories. Whenever you feel like you are stuck in a dire situation, just ask for help from others on ways to get out. Keeping your head held high, staying positive, and happy, and most importantly taking every minute you have with everyone as a gift that should be treasured will help you make the most of your Odyssey experience.
I want to thank my parents, my teachers, and all my loving, wonderful friends for helping me go through 8th grade myself. I definitely had some ups and downs, but thanks to all the loving support I received, I pulled out of it with only a few scars. I hope that people that read this will see that 8th grade is a lot different than we all assume it will be, but if you follow these tips or anything that helps you get through the day efficiently, will make a worlds difference.