As you navigate middle school, I have a few things I’d like you to know:
Not everyone will get you. Be patient. You will continue to find your people.
Even if you aren’t a natural athlete, GRIT will be the characteristic that separates you.
When you run, you have an angel on your shoulder.
Friends aren’t meant to be collected. Good ones last a lifetime.
Girls. It’s ok for them to be “just friends” because you are too young for romance, any ways. The good ones will secretly like your shyness.
Humility is hard. But, important.
Be confident. It’s not cocky to embrace your strengths.
Talking is better than texting.
Teenagers are weird. And you are almost one of them. It’s ok. It’ll pass.
Politely ask people to speak up.
Calling an adult sir or ma’am shows respect. And also points out you are not from around here. Military kids are unique in that way; be quiet during the National Anthem, face the flag and take off your hat.
Brush your teeth.
You can mix plaids and stripes. If you go there, though, you gotta own it.
Bed-head can be a style. (But shouldn’t be)!
Find the kid who is eating alone and sit with them.
Looking people in the eyes will get easier with practice.
Laughing at yourself is endearing but being self deprecating is not.
Own your mistakes. Learn and grow from them. We’ve all made them.
Always pat a teammate on the back when they put their chin down.
Chew with your mouth closed. Yes…ketchup does taste good on almost everything, but is messy, so use a napkin.
PE clothes should be washed more than once a week. They smell. Then you smell, and NO one likes a smelly kid.
Trust God has a great and bold plan for you.
Be you. Trying to be cool is totally Uncool. Square pegs end up changing the world.
Kindness is golden.
Hold doors. Say please and thank you. Try using “you’re welcome” instead of “no problem” because serving others isn’t a chore. Develop a firm handshake but not too firm and certainly not limp.
When you feel down, turn your gaze up.
Read. Draw. Listen to music. Play outside. Devices make you kind of boring. Look up. Unplug. Be still.
In closing, my beautiful Battle, know that you were designed perfectly imperfect. You will make mistakes. Do and say dumb things. Have some regrets. But you will also overcome and persevere. And we will be here to guide you, support you and love you.
I pray someday you look back on these years and see the greatness we see.
— Valli Gideons
Valli Gideons is a military bride who writes about raising kids with cochlear implants and other things from the heart. Next up? Now Hear This, a book she wrote with her daughter about her hearing loss journey.