“A Horrible Place” I was terrifying. It was horrible. It was one of the single worst events that a child should ever be forced to go through. Middle School. Across the nation, as children graduate from the 5th grade of their Elementary schools, they are grouped and shoved into one giant pit of hormones and despair known as middle school, or junior high, depending on where you live. If you a high school graduate what his least favorite school experience was, he or she would probably say Middle School without hesitation. It’s not really the schools fault, and it’s definitely not the instructors (god bless them for having the courage to teach in that place), yet Middle school is an experience most upcoming students would probably wish they could have avoided. The same held true for me. Middle school was an extremely confusing time in my life, and it changed me into who I am today. When I graduated from the friendly atmosphere of the Elementary school, I had no idea how different my new environment could be. In Elementary School, everyone was pretty much friendly with everyone else, there really wasn’t a huge emphasis put on popular kids and unpopular kids, and there definitely weren’t any real hard decisions to be made. Personally, the only thing that I really had on my mind in Elementary School was whether I would be playing foursquare or football, and who would play with me. But that all changed as I made the switch. The first change, and the biggest one that I really ever noticed, was that kids began to group themselves into “cliques” and “squads” of the other people that were like them, and if you weren’t in a group, then you were usually left on your own, without any friends. Also, some of the groups labeled as cool, whilst others were seen as socially unacceptable to be seen around. Children began to label their peers, some of whom they had probably been friends with, as uncool, or unpopular, and then preceded to avoid them, if they were nice. If they weren’t in such a kind mood, then the bullying, harassment, name-calling, and teasing commenced, and the poor kids childhood was turned into hell by people he once called friends. All of these things were happening around me, and it took me a while to comprehend what I was witnessing, which put me behind the other children in the search for “cool” groups of friends to hang around with. I mainly tried to stick around with my friends from Elementary school, preferring old faces I knew to complete strangers that some other stranger labeled as popular. This, it turns out, was not the way to become a popular kid yourself. While I wasn’t really unpopular, I definitely wasn’t one of the coolest kids around. I was stuck floating in the middle, the center of the spectrum, if you were more popular than me, you were a cool kid. If you were less, well then I hope high school was a much better experience for you. The thing that really changed me however, was how my friends from elementary school started to abandon me for the greener pastures of cool groups. The real eye-opener though was my willingness to abandon friends myself, in order to push myself higher on the social spectrum. It took me until almost the end of my three long middle school years to realize the atrocities that myself and my peers had committed, we were the cause for the alienation of the un-popular children. We were the reason that they were marked as uncool. I had left friends, good friends, kids that I had had over to my house to hang out, that I used to play with on the playground, ones that I used to do homework with, all because they weren’t seen in my newfound middle school approved eyes as “cool”. And the same thing had happened to me as well, I had one of my best friends, a kid that I had hung out with for years, I had known him since we were tiny little toddlers, and as soon as middle school came around, I suddenly wasn’t cool enough for him to hang out with anymore. This led me to realize that the middle school environment had, not really forced, but coerced us into become social nightmares, monsters in the dreams of the un-popular, where we used to be friends and the symbol of good times. It was a change, a waking up, a loss of innocence, as I watched my fellow peers be shunned and cut off from the cool groups, and then I proceeded to do it myself. And since then, few people have broken out of their assigned levels of coolness, and these rankings, per say, stayed with them all the way through high school, and maybe into college. I discovered a fundamental piece of human nature as I went through those three rough years. People were, generally, always willing to sacrifice someone they had used to care about, or maybe still did, in order to boost their own self. Middle school had awoken me to the harsh realities of the world, and in a maddened, hormone induced frenzy, myself and others had wounded people, and for really no other reason than personal gain. I emerged from Middle school a completely different being than the child who entered. While I was still young, I had seen the harshness that is true human nature, and the way of the world. My naïve innocence was stripped from me, and replaced with an understanding of the world that I had not possessed before my entrance to the school. I was no longer a child really, I was more of an adult, and my experiences in middle school still matter, as the friends that I made are still with me, and the ones that I lost are still gone, and I never will regain the bliss that was the innocence of elementary school.