When you graduated from elementary school, you left behind a carefree, fun environment in which nobody really cared too much about what each other looked like, how we talked, what music we liked and what sports we played. We just played along together and it was fun. You liked me and so I liked you. There might have been a day here and there when we fell out because you wouldn’t share your Twinkies, but the next day it was all forgotten about, no grudges held and we all went happily back to normal.
Middle school is a completely different beast. Kids are getting bigger, taller, cockier and more competitive. While there used to be room for everyone to play equally, now some are getting muscled out and pushed around by bigger kids. Middle school is a dog eat dog world of survival. It’s where the popularity contest begins. It’s where you’ll be defined for the rest of your life as a jock, a nerd, a weirdo or a nobody. It’s where the cool and the uncool part ways.
Of course, the most important thing to achieve in middle school is to be cool and not uncool. But, coming from elementary school, where at least one kids wet his pants every day and boys and girls alike could wear Mickey Mouse t-shirts, how are you supposed to know where to start? You’ve got to act before it’s too late. Observe the kids in higher grades – see if you can tell who is cool and who is not. People who seem to have a lot of friends are your best bet. Observe the way they act. Cool kids will be relaxed and may appear aloof. You’ll spot the natural leaders – the ones who don’t listen, interrupt others and seem to talk the loudest. They can do this because they’re not afraid. When challenged, they can often shoot down their opponent with some witty insult or joke, but if not, they’re always happy to dish out a beating. This is who you want to be. Their followers will look quite similar in terms of their clothing and demeanor. They will mimic their leader’s behaviour when around younger or weaker kids, but will always defer to their leader in other situations.
For the first week or so at middle school, keep a low profile and observe the kids in your grade. Without knowing it, they are sorting themselves into leaders and lieutenants. The obnoxious sporty kid will be forming the core of the group that will become the jocks. The kid with rich parents who has every computer game and games console will be gathering his squadron of nerds around him. The great majority of people will be wandering around confused, alone or in pairs, playing hackysack or picking their noses and flicking it at each other. These guys will eventually succumb to the gravitational pull of the cool people. With girls, this happens very quickly. The prettiest girls from wealthy families suck in everything around them like a black hole of cool. They will be in the spotlight right until they graduate high school as the prom queen. Getting close to them, copying their ways and becoming one of them should be your goal.
Sometimes, those who are willing to stand out on their own can become cool. For example, the kid who has got himself a new ride from The Electric Rider might generate so much interest that he creates his own circle of followers, orbiting around his new found coolness. On the other hand, standing out is often a sure fire way to be singled out and picked on by others. You might get away with pretending to be a cat at home, but meowing andplaying with balls of wool at middle school will identify you as a weirdo and suddenly everyone will be testing you to see if they can bully and take advantage of you.
Avoiding being bullied is essential to your survival. If people see that you let others push you around, they will try to push you around as well. If someone tries to bully you, stand up for yourself, even if you know the bully is stronger than you, you have to put up a fight. People, including the bully will see that it’s easier to pick on someone else and you’ll be left alone for the rest of the year.