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  • Lindsey Garner

Aren't we all a middle schooler inside?

I don’t have a ton of memories of being 12. I’m just not someone that really remembers things, I guess. I’m sure we could dig into that if we wanted to, but for now...I’m just not someone that remembers things. Let’s go with that. Despite my lack of clear memories from my pre-teen years, I have one that stands out. There is a memory that stuck, and it shows up in the most interesting times.

Let me create a vision of 12 year old Lindsey for you: I was quite chubby and a bit awkward, and not necessarily that girl everyone wanted to be around; definitely not the girl that the boys talked about or noticed. I didn’t have the best clothes, and have never particularly cared about what my hair looked like (here I am still not caring, some things never change). I always felt too big for my skin, as if I was wearing a shirt that was too tight all the time. I felt weird, and strange and like an outsider, despite having plenty of friends. I was not an outcast, I simply felt like one all the time.

I was sitting in my seventh grade classroom, and I got passed a note that asked if I wanted to “go out” with a boy in my class. Let’s call him “David” (seriously, social media is powerful and I’m not trying to shame this poor boy 30 years later!).Let’s also address the fact that in 7th grade in the nineties, “going out” consisted of passing notes about and possibly to each other, maybe seeing each other on the playground at recess and even less possibly, talking to one another face to face. Ahhhh young love.

I remember my face getting hot, and pure joy and excitement crossing my brain. Me?? OMG, ME?? I looked around, and saw a friend’s face looking for whether I would say yes or no...apparently everyone was in on this...they all knew he liked ME! I was elated. YES YES YES! I would absolutely say yes. So I did. Fast forward an hour to our lunch period and I was let in on the secret: David didn’t want to go out with me, but rather he was dared to ask me out. He didn’t like me at all. When you’re 12, this kind of thing crushes you. Right then, I made up my own story about my worth and value. I decided that anyone that wanted to be with me was “dared” to do so. They didn’t really want to be there, but they had been duped into it. Looking back, I am not sure I even liked David, but I remember very clearly how lovely it was to feel like someone saw me as being someone they would want to go out with. It’s so interesting how things that happen when we are this age stick.

Fast forward to now, and I am currently in the work of figuring out what I want. What makes ME happy? It’s tricky to do this in your late thirties, after living a life of never really asking that. All sorts of weird stuff comes up.  This memory popped up, and I see how long I have been feeling like the girl that boys get dared to ask out. I’ve had all sorts of relationships; horrible train wrecks that I knew would end badly when they started, magical flings that still have a little burning ember, bad ideas, great ideas that I wasn’t ready for, good men, terrible men and also love. I’ve seen real, true and consistent love. One thing rang true throughout all of these: I always think I believed that these men had been dared to pass me that note. I always felt this tiny little thought in my head that this was another cruel joke, and that any minute, I’d be let in on it. It’s pretty hard to let that shit go, but I’m doing it. It’s not true. None of it. David will not shape my future. I’ve given him way too much power. Whoever I end up with in the end will not have to sit in the space of David’s note. I’m saying it out loud right now...I’m recreating that memory. I get the note, I look over at David and realize he’s kind of awkward, and not really that nice. I say “no thanks” and I crumple that note up and throw it away. We can all throw our notes in the trash. We can all choose who we want to be. I choose to accept all the love that someone has to offer me and trust that love fully. Here goes nothing...


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