The first “episode” in this series can be found here.

Just for the sake of clarification, in our school district, sixth and seventh grades are combined in what we call “intermediate school”, Eighth and Ninth grades are “middle school” and Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth are high school. That’s kind of different than what most school districts do.

As it was for most every other kid on the planet, middle school (or junior high school) was rough for me. I went through the same transition as everyone else did, though I don’t think some of the kids my age have finished transitioning yet.

In the eighth grade, I had what I like to call the “hipster attitude.”

The hipster attitude is that attitude that makes you think that everything you do needs to be different from what everyone else is doing. I liked to read, so I read in situations where people would definitely not be reading (in my case, school dances or assemblies). I was also rather a know it all. When I knew about something, I made sure people knew that I knew it. It was probably a really obnoxious stage for my teachers because it was a little bit grating how I treated my classmates and associates.

Despite the reading thing, this was probably the only year where I purposefully tried to make friends with questionable people because I knew they were doing things that set them apart from the rest of the kids. They weren’t positive things, but I really didn’t care. I got bad grades (bad grades for me are like B’s and C’s… because I’m such a rebel), I wore giant hoodies, I did everything I could to rebel, though now that I think about it, I barely nudged up against the line. I didn’t do drugs or swear or sluff class or even openly disagree with my teachers. I was just pretty much a jerk to people. I don’t think they remember that now, but I certainly remember it and I feel horrible about it.

Anyway, things looked up in the ninth grade. I embraced my nerd side, which had been hanging out around the edges. I realized that learning was cool, teachers were actually real people with interesting ideas and things to say besides what was in the text book, and I realized that people didn’t have to know that I knew stuff for me to be smart. For the longest time, I thought being smart was a garment that I had to wear when it’s really just succeeding at life. Sometimes I like to know things about something someone is talking about and not saying to. I just love knowing that I know stuff and that I can make connections to things and people.

After I figured out that learning was cool, I inserted myself into the group of friends I have now. We sang songs during lunch every day, we sat around and read, we talked about the ideas that we had and all the things we had experienced and I just remember loving it so much. I loved it in the way that I was happy for once in my life. The last several years of my life had been about becoming okay with everything that was never going to be alright.

That’s the true key to happiness. It isn’t about succeeding and it isn’t about being okay with what or who you are. It’s knowing there there are things about you that you hate and knowing that in some respects, you’re never going to be okay and then shoving that all into the bottom of your bag and enjoying yourself despite that.

I’m definitely not perfect at it, but I’m aware of how much I try to become good at it. It seems like hundreds of times a day, I take a moment to think about everything that isn’t okay, everything I hate about living, everything that doesn’t make me happy; then I push it away and move on to the next fun thing I get to do. Sometimes that thing is decidedly not fun, like AP Chemistry class (which I love dearly). The things I have to do in that class are ridiculous and hard and I’ve been struggling all year, but it’s so great. I think of the people I get to do it with and I think of the new understanding of the physical world that I will gain when I finally understand what we’ve been learning for weeks.

I always have a hard time understanding why people are always complaining about how hard or boring something is until I stand back to look at it and realize that it is hard and boring. Then, I realize that I love it because it’s boring. When I’m doing something boring, I let my mind wander away and I just think about things. Sometimes I like just thinking about nothing. Boring things have always been restful to me. Hard things, on the other hand, are invigorating. a few hours ago, I finished ten book assignments and a practice test for AP Chemistry. They were hard and they were time consuming. I’ve been sitting in the same spot all day trying to finish them. It was so awesome. Every new equations I had to balance presented another puzzle for my mind to shift through and now that I’m done, I have four pieces of paper covered in writing that tells me that I’ve accomplished something.

Becoming happy about life for me was to learn to love all the stuff that sucks about it. That’s one of the reasons I’m writing this series of blog posts. It’s because feeling nostalgic sucks so bad, but I love it. I love looking back at everything in my past and hurting because it’s over, but happy that it happened and that I have those memories to play back whenever I want to. If you can learn to love the things that you hate the most about life, suddenly life becomes filled with all the things you love.

Every feeling of happiness you have will be tipped with pain because life is so tedious and dull and altogether not worth it, yet it’s so worth it that you won’t want to wait until you wake up the next morning to face another horrible day and you won’t be able to wait until the day is over so that you can go to sleep and dream those crazy dreams that don’t makes sense.

Next episode in the series.