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

10/31/21

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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