Glad I Saw It: From Whence Empathy Comes


It’s Eighth Grade, y’all!

Oh dear. I was trying so hard — and hating every moment of it.

One of the reasons I wanted to become a teacher was to soften the pain for others that was middle school and much of high school for me. In the 7th grade, I was sitting in my seat a couple of minutes before class began, alone in the room but for the teacher, and she complimented my sweater. It was a genuine, specific compliment that I carried with me for days. Middle school was lonely much of the time, and I didn’t quite get the preppy mixed with left-over glitzy fashion of the early 80’s. (see evidence above) So someone noticing my sweater made me feel more confident, if only slightly so. And that affects everything. Everything.

Seeing photos of myself in middle school humbles me. It makes me remember my misery back then. And owning my awkwardness helped grow an empathy for the weirdness and misspeak and blunders that come with puberty and finding one’s identity and voice and Self. Good teachers (and parents and adults in general) need that empathy if they are to survive being surrounded by it all day, every day.

Be patient with the teens and tweens in your life. Hold them accountable, but love them first.


Stop in at the moonshine grid over at yeah write. It’s good stuff – and no cotton mouth in the morning.


About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. Do The Most Good.
This entry was posted in Glad I Saw It, Parenthood, People are Good, People do silly things, random observation and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Glad I Saw It: From Whence Empathy Comes

  1. Natalie DeYoung says:

    Indeed. My memories of middle school were much the same.

  2. Christina says:

    fantastic post. it was so hard. today, i’m glad it was so hard (for the most part), but I pray on a daily basis my daughter doesn’t have to endure even half of what I had to. :/

  3. Oh man. You just reminded me exactly WHY I went into teaching. Since leaving the profession I have forgotten what brought me to that career in the first place. It’s all up there in what you said. And I think, until I became bitter and felt used up- I really did try to seek out those middle school kids that needed a kind word. Lovely post. And rockin’ outfit 🙂

  4. such a difficult time to be a person – everything changes in those years, your emotions, your body, often your friends. so hard. yes, love first.

    • It’s so so difficult to be kind to teenagers sometimes. They don’t WANT help. And then yes they do. They HATE you and everything you’ve ever done! And then they want to emulate you. They are finding their way. 🙂

  5. outlawmama says:

    This is such a lovely and healing post. Here here.

  6. tinsenpup says:

    Thank you. My eldest is nearly thirteen and it really felt as that last line were spoken directly to me. I will try. It is such a hard time.

  7. T. Dawn says:

    Good stuff! I was such a target for mean kids in elementary/middle school. It’s like they could smell me out of a crowd. I can still tell you mean names I was called in second grade. It was that bad.

    You’re post reminded me that because of that, I am able to better teach my kids the importance of caring for other’s feelings. …and to always seek out the underdog. My daughter will never admit when she is wrong (she’s stubborn like her Momma) but she would never say anything to purposely hurt someone else. I have those assholes who put tar tar sauce in my frizzy hair to thank for that.

    I loved this little reminder of where that empathy comes from…thank you (:

  8. snapsandbits says:

    You’re rockin’ the headband though, don’t you think? Such a hard time. I have a teenager now and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said “No one EVER says they wish they could do high school again. It gets way better after that.”

  9. aishasoasis says:

    This is so compassionate! Thanks for sharing this great encouragement!

  10. Larks says:

    Ugh. Middle school. ::: shudders ::: You’re closing sentence is so right on.

  11. Marcy says:

    I teach 7th graders, so I am reminded all the time how difficult it is. I have lunch duty in the cafeteria this quarter, and there have been tears at least three different times so far over having nowhere to sit in the cafeteria. It’s such a hard time, and I remember being panicked until I could find a place to sit way back then.

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