I have a lot of strange memories of my preteen/early-teen school days. Slapfights between friends, fistfights between enemies, scaring games, boredom plays, people passing out face first into desks — and some of that was with the teacher in the room!

Middle school seems to be a turbulent time in all of our lives. We all are changing suddenly (or not suddenly enough) and trying to figure out how to deal with those differences. Everyone gets picked on, and everyone picks on somebody else. We’re supposed to begin growing up, but we’re not at all ready to let go of our childlike ways. I thought my classmates and I were making some progress through 6th and 7th grade, but we reverted back to early childhood in 8th grade (complete with pretend wedding ceremonies).

But now, over a decade later, I’m reliving a lot of middle school memories, with a fresh perspective. I’m looking for the good moments in the midst of the trauma. Little things like entering a new level of friendship with a kid who finally stood up to my petty nagging. (Hey, I did say everybody picked and got picked on.) Or waking up happy and refreshed, after sleeping through a big girl-fight that took place in the middle of the night during a youth retreat.

There are a lot of frustrating moments to go through as a preteen or young teenager (hopefully not as awkward as my own memories) — but there are a lot of good moments to be experienced as well. I couldn’t see a lot of them at the time, but looking back I am finding them now. And hopefully as I change my perspective on my past, some of my perspective on my future can be changed along with it.

What about you? Do you have a lot of traumatic memories of middle school? Or were your preteen years a little less painful and a little more glorious?