Middle school is a strange place. It’s an awkward three years in one building surrounded by other people going through this weird stage of life called puberty. Some people hit it earlier than others and grow into their shells quickly and comfortably. Others hide in the corner and pretend they don’t exist. Still others float, not quite comfortable but acknowledging the fact that they exist and are relatively okay with it. Since there are other floaters and confused, awkward people with funky bodies going through major changes, it’s okay to not be okay with them. There’s strength in numbers, even if those numbers aren’t complete and are strange. I remember envying the popular girls in the sixth grade. For my generation, those girls looked exactly the same. They all came out of the Popular Girl machine and were sold in separate packages. The only thing different about each girl was the color of their outfits. It’s like they planned to look exactly the same and brought spares in case (and God forbid) that someone else wore the same thing as they did. If that ever happened, turn around and run as fast as you can. Oh and if you hear screaming, crying and threats, just ignore it like everybody else does. In ten seconds, one girl will emerge victorious and the other will have a different colored top on but don’t worry, they’ll still look exactly the same. I didn’t understand middle school or anything really back then, but I did understand what popularity looked like and I wanted it more than anything else in the world.
A typical popular girl at my middle school looked like this: Their hair was straight everyday. It doesn’t matter what kind of straightener you used as long as your hair was straight. You can always lie and say it’s the popular brand anyway. If your hair was ever wavy, curly or the revolting natural, people will compliment you probably because you’re a breath of fresh air but your task was to make a grimacing face and go on about why straight hair was the best and how your hair was gross. Your bangs are clipped back by a bow found in the toddler section of any clothing store. If you wear the same color bow twice in a row or it doesn’t match your outfit, goodbye popularity. Buns do not exist in popularity. You have time to do your hair every morning because waking up at 5 am is normal. How long do you think looking this good takes? Sleep is second to looking perfect. Their eyes are just like a raccoon. Who discovered eye liner first: a raccoon or a middle school girl? Who wore it better? Hint: it’s not the middle school girl. If your makeup looked dark enough, it wasn’t. You only have four layers of foundation on? You need more. Girls back then didn’t know you could put makeup on your neck so each girl had a distinct line where their caked on makeup ended and their real skin appeared. It’s hilarious if you think about it, they look like they were painting and didn’t realize they had more paper to cover. The outfits are the same. You wear a Juicy jacket with a camisole underneath zipped up just above your belly button so the top of your camisole shows and you better make sure the colors go together. If they don’t, you zip up the jacket all the way to your chin and accept the fact that you look like a loser. Don’t worry, if you look extra conformed tomorrow, maybe they’ll forget about your screw up today. The jackets are about $120 each. They’re basic material found anywhere, don’t keep you warm, have a useless hood and the J itself is probably worth $110 alone. Your jeans had to be designer jeans. Forget the fact that you’re twelve years old and don’t need jeans that cost as much as a single text book in college. The other popular girls are wearing True Religions, Sevens, Lucky, and all the other ridiculous brands out there so you better get your hands on at least three pairs. If you only have one or two, people will notice you wearing the same one or two everyday and that is social suicide, my friend. Trust me, having whatever label on your butt is worth the $200 you spend for simple stitching mom could do at home in ten minutes. Your shoes have to be converse, uggs, or vans. Anything else is ugly. Pink is now your favorite color. If you ever wear a skirt, make sure you wear it with uggs because a skirt and converse don’t look good together. Leggings are okay but only if you wear a thong because panty lines are ew. Oh and lastly, don’t even think about leaving the house in sweatpants or without your face. Popular girls wouldn’t be caught dead without their caked on face and sweatpants on.
There you have it: the guide on how to look popular at my middle school.
It’s sad to think that I was one of those girls. That to me was what blessed looked like. A moment of silence please, for all the money I wasted on make up, ridiculous looking clothes I didn’t even like, the time I spent with girls I didn’t like, and for all the time I could have been in my sweatpants.
Praise God that He got a hold of me and opened my eyes to what blessed truly looks like. In our society, blessed looks like the popular girl. The person that has everything materialistic you could ever ask for, a mask of confidence that hides all the brokenness underneath, people that call themselves their friends but gossip every second they get in an attempt to steal your spot, more money than you can count and a Facebook with over a thousand friends and hundreds of likes for every status they ever post. We envy those people because they look like they have it all, they really have their stuff together, they must be having the time of their life, oh man my status was way more brilliant than theirs about going to the car wash and I only got ten likes? Life isn’t fair. I want hundreds of likes, I want more money, I want more friends, I want more more more more more more more.
Why do we need more?
Those likes don’t mean anything. You’ll forget about them next week. Having more money doesn’t mean you’re more satisfied. How long until you want more again? Don’t even start with the whole, “They say money can’t buy happiness but it can buy cupcakes and that’s the same thing”, rant. People laugh and joke and pretend that money can buy happiness but it doesn’t. Cupcakes aren’t happiness. They make you fat. Sorry. More friends doesn’t mean they’re good friends. Being surrounded by people who aren’t your real friends can make a person more lonely than they were before. I would rather have three or four friends I could tell everything to than a hundred people I can party with on weekends but never learn more than their name, favorite drink, and what kind of drunk they are. More doesn’t mean more. Yes, you can physically have more things but those things turn into junk that you store at the back of your closet and wish you could donate but always forget about. More money means more things you don’t need that fulfill you momentarily until you’re back to wanting more. More friends mean less quality time. In this case, more becomes less. When that becomes the reality, are you really blessed? Heck I thought so. As long as I look good, I am good. Right?
But if the world thinks I’m good and I pretend long enough, then I’ll start to believe I’m good. Right?
My definition of blessed has changed radically since I was twelve. Blessed doesn’t mean having all of those things. Blessed to me looks like this:
I am crying, but held. I am broken, but being made new. I am dying, but am being resurrected. I am depressed, but have a soul rooted in joy. I am anxious, but have a peace that surpasses all understanding. I am wounded, but have eternal healing. I am broke on earth, but have an endless treasure waiting for me. I am nothing, but in Him I am everything. I am not worthy, but He calls me beloved. I am useless, but He has a plan for me not to hurt me but to prosper me. I am walking through the shadow of the valley of death, but He is with me and comforts me. I am weak, but I am found in a savior who is stronger than I will ever be. I am nobody, but to Him, I am His creation.
Being blessed is knowing that you are worth dying for and knowing that someone has already died for you even if you don’t know Him yet. Being blessed isn’t about having more, it’s about knowing whose you are and who you are in Him. The best part of this definition of being blessed is that it doesn’t depend on anything or anyone, it only depends on God. Since God is everlasting and keeps His promises, we are unconditionally blessed and we will always stay blessed no matter what we do or don’t do. Isn’t that great news? It takes so much pressure off of our shoulders!
So take off those silly Juicy jackets, unzip the overly priced jeans, kick off the converse. Turn off your alarm for 5 am, don’t bother putting on the layers of makeup, and don’t worry about matching colors. Slip into your sweatpants, pull on your sweatshirt, slide into your fuzzy socks and wipe the cake off your face. Be you. Be all of you, and know that you are blessed, even in your sweatpants and knock off ugg boots.