Strange Coming-of-Age: A Middle-Schooler’s Voyage


This poem was written from the perspective of a middle-schooler, seeking to fit-in and find his/her way through life. One can enjoy it vicariously (via the imagination of the author) or nostalgically (via the memory of the reader).


A new day with new possibilities.


Mom says,

“True freedom comes with responsibilities.”


My superhero alarm clock

Double-dares me to suit-up

For PE’s mile hike

Up life’s strange coming-of-age,

A call to braces, acne, and puberty.


I dye my hair to show you

I bleed the same color blue.


Have you ever noticed

I’ve given everything to be like you?


A flocked but fake Christmas tree.


I’m left with a compulsive question

Like salt that sticks to skin:

If I’m being someone else,

Then who’s being me?


“Fitting-in” is a primal instinct

Like a homie rollin’ with his crew,

A wolf running in a pack.


I feel invisible—

A faceless individual—

When I get skipped to play

On a team with friends

I pray to make,


During a short school break

Of popularity called “snack.”


Teasing is pheromones releasing;

A first crush is love’s pleasing.


Metallic butterflies descend

Into an acidic pool of anxious energy,


Surviving oral presentations

And strange hormonal sensations

That fizz-up inside me,

A dialectical synergy.


Fear of being accepted or rejected

Is a three-ton Charizard

I’m forced to battle


On a blacktop of nervous knees

And wrappers of string cheese.


Like an earthworm,

Inching its way home,

I wear secondhand clothes


And walk down a lonely road

With a well-worn skateboard


While the “cool kids” pass me

On their brand-new E-Bikes and hoverboards.


This absurd rite-of-passage

Welcomes all blood types and donors.


Can you guess my name?


I wear a costumeless disguise

With eyes that only look down,

Searching for friendly ground,

Afraid of being laughed at

And labeled a loner.


If only you could know the real me

And how deeply I feel the things inside me,


Especially when I’m misunderstood,

Wanting desperately to be heard,


So you can see all of me

From top-to-bottom


Where Acceptance looks

At what I am

And Potential looks

At what I could,

Not judging me

For what I should.


For real,

Is this the best life has to offer?


When all I can see

Is everyone else

Getting more “hearts” than me on TikTok,

I can’t help be a scoffer.


At home,

Waiting for the phone to ring,

In an ant-infested room

With a hole in my sock.


I used to smile

But now I wear a mask,

Feeling more isolated

Than when my “friends”

Talk behind my back.


I hold-on with a faint hope

That one day I’ll know

What it’s like to be on top—


A bird flying free

In a sky of limitless possibility.


“The more it hurts,

The more I don’t care,”

I say with a guarded heart

Behind a bullet-proof vest of despair.


Let’s be real,

My vital organs are exposed,

Hiding behind a torn Sublime T-shirt,

Hoping for the next person that walks by

To hold me with a Mona Lisa smile

And Cleopatra eyes.

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