Before I started school this year, I thought eighth grade would be some kind of Golden Age. I was finally a teenager! I could partake in society’s immortalized rituals of teendom! I would be invited to parties (I don’t know why I thought that), get asked to prom, and cement the bond that I had with my best friends! Maybe Molly Ringwald would even make an appearance. I was gonna have one of the best years of my life!

You may have guessed by now that I was wrong. Completely, horribly wrong. As soon as I got to school I wished I could do a U-turn back into summer and stay there. I wasn’t invited to any parties, and I haven’t been asked to prom. My friends and I didn’t get closer; if anything, the space between us grew, shoving us into separate, faraway galaxies on our own. Next year that distance will become literal, when we all go off to separate high schools. There are very few people who I think are going to bother keeping in contact with me after graduation, and maybe that’s for the best, because there are very few people I would actually like to see outside of school. I feel guilty for not caring more about these people, these memories, because I know I’m going to let them slowly fade over time. But I don’t want to romanticize something that I hated. I was (and am) bullied relentlessly this year. People I considered close friends went out of their way to make me feel horrible about myself.

I can count two times when I have felt remotely sentimental about the end of eighth grade: (1) when I listened to “Pomp and Circumstance” (the graduation song), and (2) when I had a small panic attack upon realizing that next year, I will be going to HIGH SCHOOL—a school where I know only one other person. After that comes COLLEGE, then being an adult, which will most likely make the stress I’m going through now seem like nothing.

I don’t know what the future has in store for me. All I know is that it’s never been less clear. A year ago I imagined that right about now I’d be feeling weepy and nostalgic about the end of a gilded era. I’d be making pacts with all my friends, promising to keep in touch. Instead, I feel like I’m in the middle of the Dark Ages, and there’s no end in sight. ♦