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Mastering Middle School: Your Guide to Thriving and Surviving

Heading into middle school is always a significant step. Although none of us will readily admit it, we adults were all apprehensive when we began middle school. These years are brimming with changes and challenges. Here are some tips that might help you navigate through them:

1. Be prepared for change: At no other point in your life will you experience as much change as you will in the next 3-4 years. Puberty arrives for everyone eventually, though some undergo it earlier and some later. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Most of the things you're concerned about are normal, but it's important to become accustomed to your changing body.

2. Cultivate a diverse group of friends: The friends you make in middle school may never be as close as they are during this time. Some of your friends from grade school might find new circles, potentially drifting away from your life. It's always valuable to have reliable friends. True friends should uplift you rather than drag you down, and their friendship shouldn't be conditional. True friends stand by you through thick and thin.

3. Maintain communication with your parents: As you grow older, you gain more autonomy in decision-making. Taking charge and making some choices for yourself is important. However, there might be instances where you face decisions or problems that you can't tackle alone. Reach out to a trusted adult during such times. They usually offer guidance to help you make the right choices.

4. Keep learning enjoyable: School can occasionally feel monotonous. Waking up early every day and attending classes that might be challenging or uninteresting can be tough. Making sound choices is essential. While some tasks may not be enjoyable, they still need to be done – a lesson applicable to adulthood as well. Individuals who make poor choices in middle school often continue this pattern in high school and beyond. Strive to find enjoyment in learning, complete your assignments, and if something is unclear, ask a teacher for assistance. Teachers are usually more than willing to help students who genuinely want to improve. Be ready to invest the extra effort they recommend.

5. Opt for wise decisions: I can't emphasize this enough. Whether it's staying on top of homework or maintaining good behavior in class, being a responsible citizen is crucial. Unfortunately, as adults, we often fail to be the best role models for this. We engage in debates over politics and religion, contributing to the world's negativity. Endeavor to be a positive influence at school, home, and in your community.

6. Focus on today: The past is unchangeable, but it's a source of lessons. You can't leap into the future and instantly become an adult (trust me, it's not as enjoyable as it seems). Give your best effort each day. Work diligently and see your tasks through to completion.

7. Embrace play: Don't shy away from playtime. You'd be surprised how many college students dress up for Halloween or bring along their old toys to their dorms. While everyone wants to grow up, don't rush the process. Engage in activities that are typical of childhood. All those seemingly exciting adult activities will come your way, but childhood is fleeting. Spend time outdoors, climb trees, indulge in games like tag, bounce around in a bounce house, and have fun on a slip and slide. You're never too old to play.

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