Right Back Where We Started From

disco-ballI was in Boot Camp at the gym the other day and the music mix that accompanied our sweating included a bunch of songs from the ’70s. Right in the middle of a killer set of lunges and squats, I nearly stopped cold when the song “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale came on.

Oh man, that took me back. 7th grade. The drama and the trauma of junior high. Mean girls. School dances. SO frustrated that I was consistently the second smartest kid in class, never the first. (But the smartest was sorta my boyfriend and walked me home from school everyday, so that was a consolation.)

And “Right Back Where We Started From” was my favorite song. Yeah, that was the year of “S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y Night” (the Bay City Rollers), “Rhiannon” (Fleetwood Mac), and “December, 1963” (Four Seasons). But Maxine Nightingale got me, and I listened to that little 45 over and over and over.

I thought about all of this at the gym while I continued lunging and squatting, and I thought how weird it was that 35 years later, here I am listening to that same song. I would never have pictured this. As I agonized through the trials of 7th grade, finding solace in disco music, I never would have pictured myself, 3½ decades hence, literary agent, mom of 2 (including a 7th grader), exercising to the oldies at the local gym. And still liking that song.

I don’t know what I pictured but it wasn’t this.

I suddenly wished I could go back to that shy, insecure and constantly worried 7th grade girl and tell her, It’s going to be okay.

I want to tell her that 7th grade isn’t as important as it feels, and not to worry so much about that lousy school picture, and maybe she should ease up on the blue eye shadow. I want to tell her that life’s going to be hard sometimes, but that there will be blessings unimaginable. And that she’s going to find real love, but she needs to be patient, because it’s going to take awhile. And that it wasn’t a bad thing that Donnie never once kissed her throughout an entire school year of walking her home — she’ll be kissed when the time is right.

What do you wish you could tell your 7th grade self?

And what was your favorite song in 7th grade?

P.S. My second favorite song from 7th grade was KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight.” Ah, memories.

Posted in

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  5. Sherri on November 20, 2011 at 5:20 AM

    I LOVE KC and the Sunshine Band and I love disco. Makes my husband crazy! (He’s 7 years younger than I am.) I drive around to Back to the 70’s CDs all the time. The only sad thing about this is that I really can’t dance – except in my fantasies! Disco is such happy music and always gets me going. Love it! Love it! Love it!

  6. Rachelle Christensen on November 19, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    Thanks for this excellent post. I love it! I grew up listening to 70s music–love those songs!
    Around 7th grade, I absolutely loved Milli Vanilli “Blame it on the Rain” and was so sad when I found out about the scam. LOL, that is funny to think back on now.
    I would tell my 7th grade self a lot of the same things you mentioned, but especially, “You are beautiful. Love yourself.”

  7. Kay Day on November 19, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    It was 1979. My favorite song was probably something by Barry Manilow.

    I would tell myself “Don’t believe it. Just because they treat you like dirt doesn’t mean you are. You are likable. You won’t always be the odd one out. Don’t let what happens now taint your relationships for decades. You have important things to say. You deserve to be heard. You are not inferior to anyone. Try getting over that before you’re thirties. Oh, and a little hygiene wouldn’t hurt.”

  8. Amy Leigh Simpson on November 19, 2011 at 12:35 AM

    Oh, middle school. Not a fond trip down memory lane. And sadly the musical backdrop for my middle school experience happened in the late nineties where bands like N’Sync, Ricky Martin, and Blink 182 were all the rage. I would have much preferred some classic rock or oldies to embrace those hard years ahead.

    It is nice to see the general consensus about the misery of those years. What I wouldn’t give to go back, like you said Rachelle, and tell that poor girl that it’s not just you. And yes, your mom is right, those girls ARE just vicious and jealous. You just wait and see, God has that smokin’ hot and godly hubby all picked out for you, and friends who won’t start absurd rumors and attempt to cut your hair off in class.

    But then again, if I’d known what I know now back then, it would sort of be like skipping the meat of the story and reading the last page. The journey, while trying and often miserable, is totally worth it and the mystery, well, who doesn’t love a good mystery.

  9. Sue Harrison on November 18, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    I love, love, love this post, Rachelle. Music is so like that – carries us back, away and beyond!

    My favorite 7th grade memory: when our class was in line to participate in the Christmas program and heartthrob Neil Harrison told the group, “I have a crush on the McHaney girl.” (I was the McHaney girl.)

  10. Walt Mussell on November 18, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    In seventh grade, I remember singing Rengade by Styx. The name of the album was Pieces of Eight and I thought it was fantastic. (However, there was a song on that album called “Lords of the Ring” that I kept referring to as “Lord of the Rings.”)

    What I would tell my 7th grade self?

    When that friend of yours from grad school starts extolling Dell, bet big.

    When the founder of a computer company called Apple takes his company back after getting kicked out, bet bigger.

  11. Kassie on November 18, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    This reminds me of a song I heard when I was working in Japan. I first heard it in a store and even though I couldn’t understand it all, it still moved me. It is called “Tegami,” which means, “letter” and it is by Angela Aki. From what I understand,a 15 year old girl feels a lot of pain and is lost. The only person she feels she can confide in is herself, so she writes a letter to her future self. Her future self replies that she still has heartbreak and sorrow, but she can see now it has meaning. She tells the young girl to believe in her own voice. It’s very touching and I had to hold back tears when I heard the choir at a junior high school I worked at singing. It was gorgeous and so uplifting. “Keep on believing.”

  12. Mary Jo on November 18, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    When I was 12, I remember the first Earth Day–I was totally into all that, writing reports on endangered animals, etc, and I’m still into that. I think I might have been surprised I hadn’t become a veterinarian, but on the other hand, working in books might have appealed to me because I loved books and reading then too. I liked the song “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by the Hollies. Guess we don’t change all that much over the years….except I don’t play spin the bottle anymore!

  13. Peter DeHaan on November 18, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Dear seventh grade self:

    Don’t sweat junior high. You will survive it and then your life will just keep getting progressively better.

    – “Your old self”

    PS: Though you are haunted by the song “One” from Three Dog Night, you will outgrow that, too.

  14. Ann Bracken on November 18, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    Ah, seventh grade. What times those were. The dulcet strains of Andy Gibb, watching Grease in the theater, and roller-skating to Disco Duck seemed so important then.

    What would I tell myself? Probably that my only regrets in life would be the things I didn’t do, so to not let fear of the unknown get in my way.

  15. Michelle DeRusha on November 18, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    I’d probably tell my 7th-grade self the same thing I’d tell my 41-year-old self: quit worrying about everything and get on with it! {guess I haven’t learned much in my old age}

  16. Terri Thompson on November 18, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    I loved KC and the Sonshine Band. One of my favorites from that era was “Wishing on a Star.”

    I think I’d tell my 7th grade self to take more writing classes when I got to college.

  17. Madison Johns on November 18, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    You won’t always be this awkward, ugly, or insecure. Pay attention in english class, and start writing down those stories that bouncing around in you head.

    I should have studied more because I could have really could have done more with my life. I also have a 7th grader and talking to her about anything is off limits.

  18. Susan DiMickele on November 18, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    Oh, this brings back good memories. My favorite song? Another One Bites the Dust.

    I had a lot to learn in 7th grade. My favorite memory is punching my boyfriend when he dumped me for my best friend. No kidding.

  19. Catherine Johnson on November 18, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Wham, Simon and Garfunkle, Wham, every disco tune going. I wish I’d not been so nervous and told people whay I thought more. HAGW!

  20. Zan Marie on November 18, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Ah, my 7th grade self needs to chill out. It all gets better, girl. And I promise the perfect guy *will* be waiting by the map of Africa at college. Just relax. ; )

    P.S. I was an early 70s music person–Simon and Garfunkle, Eagles, last bits from the Beatles.

  21. Coleen Patrick on November 18, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    I would tell myself: “There’s no need to cut off the bottom portions of all your wallet sized pictures of your school pic just because you may think your chest is too big. Um, women will be buying boobs like yours one day.”
    Oh and I loved “Celebration” by Kool & the gang back then.

  22. Andrea Van Ye on November 18, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    I would tell myself … just be yourself. Know yourself. Just because you’re alone, doesn’t mean your lonely. You don’t have to hurry. You’re not necessarily who people tell you that you are. Funny thing is … sometimes, I still have to tell myself those same things … 🙂

  23. Larry Carney on November 18, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Am I the only one who thinks his or her past-self would be more interested in asking things like who’s going to win the next couple of World Series to put down a few…”friendly wagers?” 🙂

    Seriously though, the only thing I’d tell my past-self would to be glad that his society has yet to criminalize being a young, rowdy kid yet….welcome to the future, kiddo. The meek sure have inherited the earth. Or at least their lawyers have…

  24. Kristin Laughtin on November 18, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    I was pretty miserable in junior high, so I’d love to also tell myself that it will be OK. That high school will seem much shorter in retrospect, and things might take longer than you hope to work out, but that they will. (A lot longer than you hoped–some things still haven’t worked themselves out.) I’m not sure I’d be able to resist the temptation to warn myself away from one or two guys. And I’d probably tell myself which hobbies to pursue because they’d bring me joy, and which to start earlier on a serious level (writing!).

  25. Cecelia Dowdy on November 18, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Oh, 7th grade! I remember dancing to those disco tunes during the school dances! I also recall that the last song they always played at the dance was Last Dance by Donna Summer!!

    I still listen to oldies on my XM Radio while driving! Wonderful music! 🙂

  26. J.L. Murphey on November 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Wow ancient history for me. 7th grade self…don’t sweat the boy issue. They are all juveniles no matter what age. Moving to the US permanently is just another country on the stop. And life isn’t about worrying it’s the living it that matters.

    The song…this is gonna age me…
    Three Dog Night- Joy to the World. When it comes on the radio or I play it on my 8-track I still bob along and dance.

  27. Brandy Heineman on November 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    I wrote a post about this very thing a couple of months ago (included as my website link if anyone is interested). Most of my advice to my younger self circled around the main idea, “Stop worrying. It’s going to be okay.” There was also a dash of “Easier isn’t always better” in the mix.

    I’m pretty sure my younger self would roll her eyes and say something like, “I thought I’d be cooler by the time I got as old as you.”

    Also, I would totally bust into my first grade classroom, just because when I was in first grade, I always kind of wished my future self would just suddenly show up. Random but true.

  28. Leigh D'Ansey on November 18, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    I was a teenager in the 60s. I’d tell myself not to be so quiet and ‘good’. I’d tell myself to ask and answer more questions, burn my bra, join protest marches, and go to San Francisco with flowers in my hair. I love music from the 60s and 70s but Elvis was always King.

  29. Linda Joan Smith on November 18, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    I’m keeping the link to this post handy, so my daughter can read your advice next year when she’s in seventh grade!

    I was particularly moved by Daniel Case’s post, which somehow captured the precariousness of life, and how blissfully unaware we all are of the twists in our road that may lie only days ahead. And my heart ached for the kids who have to experience such unforeseen tragedy so early.

    Music? The Beatles’ White Album, the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed, and Tim Buckley, listened to while lying on my bed with the stereo speakers flanking my head.

    Has anyone read The Future of Us yet? It seems to be about this very theme, of teens having a chance to see how their lives will turn out. It’s a theme that has always intrigued me!

  30. Chazley Dotson on November 18, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    I’d say, “It’s okay to hang around with those boys and let them teach you Star Wars trivia, but don’t EVER tell your husband because he will tease you for the rest of your life.”

    And, “Do not, under any circumstances, let Mom cut your hair.”

  31. Janet on November 18, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Hmm…7th grade is a loooooonnnnng time back for me to remember. Favorite song was “Do You Believe In Magic” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. (I told you it was a long time ago!)

    That year was a big transition for me, as it is for most kids. Going from elementary school to junior high school (okay, it’s middle school these days) in a huge school district meant that I wouldn’t be seeing so much of my school friends since jr. high kids were “tracked” according to scholastic achievement. That moved me into a whole new group, many of whom already knew each other, so I was the outsider. If I could give my 7th grade self advice, it could probably be summed up as “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

    Dear Janet,

    Let me start by telling you that God isn’t finished with you yet You have a long way to go before you reach your final destination.

    Stop judging yourself. It’s okay to be ranked #3 in a class of 1,000. You don’t have to be #1. More importantly, you don’t have to dumb it down so that the other kids will like you. If they don’t like you as you are, you don’t need them. People come and go, but you have to make the most of your abilities or you will cheat yourself and the world out of any contributions you might be able to make in the future.

    Regardless what you might think right now, you will find your own niche. Just because sister #1 is the “smart one” and sister #2 is the “pretty one,” that doesn’t mean you have nothing left to be besides the “other one.” Stop wishing you were a boy just so you could stand apart from your sisters! (Here’s a tidbit to motivate you: The day will come women have as many options as men do now. Someday it will even be socially acceptable for a girl to ask a boy out on a date!)

    I know what you’re thinking, but you aren’t really the only girl in the 7th grade who doesn’t have a boyfriend. Besides, there will be plenty of time for that later. You’ll be better off in the long run if you just focus on getting an education and reaching your goals. Romance can just get in the way of making your dreams come true if you’re not careful.

    Oh, and that cute (but short) boy who has had a crush on you throughout grade school? He’s going to be a tall, good-looking professional athlete some day. Those mean girls who tease you now will eat their hearts out with jealousy at your 10th HS reunion when he spends most of the evening chatting with you. The two of you will remain friends forever and he wont’ give a hoot about those girls who were so popular back in the day. In fact, he’ll go around telling them that he’s loved you since kindergarten. Try not to gloat when that happens. It’s not becoming.

    Final words of wisdom: Be patient. Someday you will be a writer. Part of you will wish that you had stayed focused on that dream to the exclusion of everything else, but I’m telling you right now that you have to experience all the ups and downs and career twists and turns you’re going to go through to get to that final destination. That’s the path that is mapped out for you.

    Love from the future YOU.

    P.S. Thirty is not ancient! And no, you are not going to live forever. But do not give in to the temptation to cross over when you have that nasty brush with Death in your 40s. God has plans for you that extend beyond that point in time.

  32. Kathryn Elliott on November 18, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Dear 7th Grade Me:

    Sean Cassidy is not your Prince charming; he arrives 13 years from now, and…wait for it…. he’s a Yankees fan! We forgive him. (And try and look past the dancing; he tries.)

    Be patient,
    40+ Year Old Me

  33. Beth MacKinney on November 18, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    Hmm. I’d say, relax. The world is a huge place, and this is a tiny piece of it. Don’t let the people around you now define your destiny, because they can’t.

  34. Julie Nilson on November 18, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    I would tell my 7th-grade self to stop giving a damn what the Mean Girls think, and stop letting them play the “now you’re our friend, now you’re not” game with me. Because you’re better than that, and shouldn’t ever let anyone treat you that way.

    Make friends with the other slightly nerdy girls instead, because they’re going to grow up to be the kind of women you want to be friends with as an adult anyway.

    Keep writing fiction.

    Also, don’t worry too much about the boyfriends that will come and go during high school. Teenage relationships don’t usually last, and that’s OK. They’re learning experiences. Also, that cute boy who you are going to crush on from afar for most of your freshman year of college? You’re going to end up marrying him.

    • Julie Nilson on November 18, 2011 at 12:42 PM

      Oh yeah, favorite song: Probably something by Cyndi Lauper. Or Boy George.

  35. Rachel on November 18, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I would tell myself that it wasn’t my fault and to tell. Tell until someone believes you.

    And keep writing. Thirty some years from now, you’ll reconnect with people from school on something called Facebook, and they’ll become real friends, but the first thing they’ll remember about you are the stories you wrote.

  36. Tammi T. on November 18, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Oh, wow! Very thought provoking….

    I’d tell my 7th grade self to “find the same kind of friends you had before you moved” and “not to worry about what the kids in the new school think – don’t try so hard to impress them – please God instead.” There is a lot more but I’d say but it would be of a more personal nature.

    As far as favorite songs from 7th grade, it would be a toss-up between “Funky Town” and “Father’s Eyes”.

  37. Cathy on November 18, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    I really love music too. I love this disco song. The song that I really liked when I was in the 7th grade was ‘Perfect’ by Fairground Attraction. I would tell my 7th grade self not to sweat the small stuff, that friends come and go. The ones who stay through the hard times are the good ones. And that family is of the utmost importance.

  38. joylene on November 18, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Holy cow, I’m old. My favourite was “I Got You, Babe” by Sonny & Cher. If I could go back I would have told that little girl to believe in herself. I would say, “Joylene, you really are a good person, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.” It took me way too many years to figure that out.

  39. Cathy West on November 18, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    This is going down in my books as my all-time favorite of all your posts! Thanks for the smile today, I needed it.
    I would ditto almost everything you wrote, except I was nowhere near the top of my class!! But everything else was just spot on. But you know, if somebody had told me back then that one day I would remember those tortuous days of being shy, insecure and far too worried about fitting in, and laugh at myself, I would never have believed them.

  40. April Plummer on November 18, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    7th grade was hell for me. Pure hell. The mean girls…were very mean. So I’d do what you’d do – tell myself it’ll be okay. I’ll go through all kinds of hell, but in the end, it’ll be worth it. In the end, you’d do it all again to end up right where you are at 30 years old.

  41. Kelly Combs on November 18, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Best post ever! I love music! The song that I most relate to my 7th grade self is Celebration by KC & the Sunshine Band. Ah, the skating rink angst!

    As for what I would tell my 7th grade self, it would be the same thing I told MY 7th grader in the letter I recently wrote her. She got her first B and was devastated. I told her that her life is a beach, and that “B” is just a grain of sand on her beach. I told her she was a girl, not a grade. And I told her that she was dearly loved…by me, by her dad and by God. That is what I want her to focus on.

    Loved this post, Rachelle.

  42. joan Cimyotte on November 18, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Without sounding disturbed let’s see…”Have you seen your mother baby, standing in the shadows?” “She goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper.” “Help! I need someone” “He’s a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land” “One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small.”
    “Tell me over and over and over again you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.” “It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls for the times they are a changing.” I’m just saying.

  43. Connie Almony on November 18, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Tears welling on this one. My daughter is in the fifth grade and I see the insecurities growing. Just want to hug her and remind her how loved she truly is. But at times, she will feel it’s not enough. I know that. Just gotta get her through it.

    I wish I could tell myself a lot of things back then, but unfortunately I’m not sure I would have believed any of it. Just glad God held my hand through it all even when I wasn’t reaching out to Him.

  44. Jillian Kent on November 18, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    7th grade was the worst of the worst. I had to change junior highs that year. I couldn’t have felt more unattractive. Ugh!
    But if you were like me 7th grader, you won’t always be on the outside looking in. Don’t worry about those silly boys, they don’t grow up till they’re 35.

    I’ll date myself with the music but I’d have to pick, Jumpin’ Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones 🙂 Anyone else remember that year?

    And Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf.

  45. Serena on November 18, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    I remember that Maxine Nightingale song! I loved KC and the SB too – sounds like we must be around the same vintage.

    I’d tell my 7th grade self: “Stay away from him. You’re going to break each other’s hearts, and 30+ years from now it’ll still hurt.”

    On the bright side, my favorite song back then was probably “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel, although I pretty much loved anything that came out in 1978. It was a great year for music, as I recall. 🙂

  46. elaine @ peace for the journey on November 18, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    I can’t ever recall the 7th grade… probably better that way.


  47. Susan Bourgeois on November 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    I would tell her to hold tight; rapid changes are coming.

    The year 1968 was a big year for me. That was the year my face grew enough so that my nose appeared to be somewhat normal.

    That wasn’t the only thing that grew, all of me developed. Let’s just say, I was blessed.

    I went from a skinny little girl who couldn’t get one guy to ask her to dance at the VFW dance hall on a Saturday night, to the girl who suddenly had more choices than she could have ever imagined.

    Hey Jude, Mrs. Robinson and Dance to the Music were just a few of the great hits of 1968 but for some reason the only song that stuck in my mind from my time at the VFW hall was “The House of the Rising Sun.”

    How I longed for at least one guy to ask me to dance. I can remember my girlfriends and I preparing our outfits with great care on those special Saturday nights. It was an all day event. Each time, I had hoped it would be different.

    My big sister, Miss Popularity, tried to offer any encouragement possible. She was five years older and had already achieved more accolades than anyone I had ever heard of in my entire short life. Her pep talk was all in vain for the most part.

    I can remember cutting off a row of ribboned daisies, one by one to place in my hair (an updo no less) to try to attract a glimpse from the opposite sex. They were held in place by the skinny, two pronged bobby pins that people use in a French twist. It didn’t work. In fact, I think it became the cruel joke of the night. “Take a look at this girl; she’s got daisies in her hair!”

    I can remember (painfully), one by one, each of my friends being tapped on the shoulder and asked to dance. There was a peeling effect if you could imagine. I was the banana in the middle, left standing. I can still feel the shivers down the back of my neck as I felt abandoned and forced to pretend it didn’t matter.

    There I stood, alone (always in a round-shouldered position with my arms crossed in front)to sweat out the entire length of the song until each of my friends returned with glowing faces to triumphantly share their short-lived romantic experiences.

    I’m not sure but I think I can vaguely remember plucking those daisies out of my hair one by one as the night lingered on.

    If I could go back, I would tell my 7th grade self not to worry about being skinny. I would tell her that something miraculous is going to happen over the summer, before she begins 8th grade.

    She’s going to turn into an entirely different person overnight and a whole new world will open up for her.

    I would also tell her that any insecurities she experiences at this age are equally shared by most everyone in her class. It just feels like she’s the only one who worries and none of her friends or classmates wants to admit it.

    Most importantly, I would force her to look at me squarely in the eyes as I assure her that never in her life will she ever have to resort to sticking a daisy in her hair to attract any man.

  48. Krista Phillips on November 18, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    7th grade was a bad one for me. Most days I try not to think about it. Is it sad that it STILL haunts me yet??? Maybe I need therapy… HA HA!

    I think I’d tell my 7th grade self to stand up tall, be proud of who you are, and stop trying to be a people pleaser, especially to people who refused to be pleased by anything.

    I think 7th grade was around the time my sisters could be seen practicing the MC Hammer down the hallway (I was an 80’s/90’s child… Big bangs, pegged pants, poofy sleeves) I was a very churchy teen so my fav songs would have been the newly evolving contemporary Christian songs.. MWS Friends, 4Him, Audio Adrenaline (although they were probably more High school…) Although we did a mean “Ice Ice baby…”

  49. Kay Elam on November 18, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    I kind of wish I had some of my seventh grade self back. It was my best school year.

    Seventh grade was the last year I knew everything. Without a doubt. I had all the answers and if you didn’t believe it you could just ask me.

    I was president of my class, vice-president of the SGA, the only 7th grader who was a cheerleader on the 8th grade squad. An 8th grade guy I had a crush on brought a present to my house on my birthday–perfume. (Of course, I wasn’t allowed to date). Yep. Seventh grade was just about perfect.

    Then, in eighth grade, my parents divorced, my beloved grandfather died, an uncle died suddenly, I had to have emergency surgery. I learned about reality — and I wasn’t so fond of it! But it was already too late to have my seventh grade life back.

    Favorite song — hum — Playboy by Gene and Debbie (ever heard of it or them? May have been a figment of my imagination.) Also loved I Think We’re Alone Now by Tommy James and the Shondells. Oh, and The Rain, the Park and Other Things (better known as I Love the Flower Girl) was my very, very favorite.

    Thanks for transporting me back to a magical year of my life, and starting my day with a smile.

  50. Lindsay Harrel on November 18, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Am I showing how young I am by saying my favorite song in 7th grade was anything by ‘N Sync? 😛

    7th grade was awful. But I’d tell myself it’s OK that all your friends stopped talking to you. They weren’t real friends, and don’t you worry, because you’ll have real friends soon. And for goodness sake, stop wearing baggy men’s shirts–dress like a girl like your mom says.

    Also, that dream of writing? Don’t ever stop.

  51. Leslie on November 18, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    And my favorite 7th grade song was either Jack and Diane or My Angel is a Centerfold. I also liked She Blinded Me with Science, but not sure what year that was!

  52. Leslie on November 18, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    I remember going to meet my 7th grade best friend at an aerobics class she was taking (shiny 80s lycra and all) and they were playing Electric Avenue, which was a few years old (I think) at that point. I always think of that moment when I hear the song.

    I would tell my 7th grade self that one day I wouldn’t be shy or nervous at all, and that I should just get over all that now.

  53. Diana Dart on November 18, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Grade seven seems a long way off… and it was kinda surreal to watch my son head off to middle school this year.

    I’d tell my 7th grade self to be herself and quit worrying about what other people think. But, hey, she probably wouldn’t listen 🙂

    My fav songs? Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley and Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins. Sigh. Still love that 80’s pop…

  54. Lisa Fender on November 18, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    7th grade was a tough year. I had moved here from Kentucky so I had an accent and was teased constantly and I was a tomboy. I liked rock, disco was just coming out so I wasn’t into it. My favorite was Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. I would have told myself not to try that cigarette and to get along better with my family, I was a mess. I also would have told myself to work on writing more, but I did write a lot of poetry back then.

    To top it off, after 7th grade, we moved again so I had to start all over again with new friends. I hated junior high.

  55. Nathan Rudy on November 18, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    1) You’re not as smart as you think;
    2) You’re not as dumb as you think;
    3) You’re not as funny as you think;
    4) You’re funnier than you think;
    5) You’re not as good a writer as you think;
    6) You’re a better writer than you think;
    7) Always put 15 percent of your pay in a savings account.

  56. David Todd on November 18, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    7th grade. Hugh B. Bain junior high school. A long, long time ago.

    I’d like to tell my 7th grade self that there’s more to the world than baseball, that talking with girls isn’t the scariest thing in the world, and to prepare for the summer after 7th grade, because your mother is going to die then.

    I think my favorite song was “Down in the Boondocks” by Billy Joe Royal.

  57. Jill Kemerer on November 18, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Love this, Rachelle! My favorite song in seventh grade was Thriller by Michael Jackson. It’s funny how music triggers our memories–there are so many songs from that year that if I hear them now, they bring me right back.

    I would tell myself that the strength I’m summoning to stand up for myself will be something I will never regret. Seventh grade sets the foundation for me to be strong–and I’m so glad!

  58. Sandie Bricker on November 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    7th grade for me was my resisting the new age of disco period. In the 7th grade, I was crushing on Joe Becker, heartbroken that he chose my friend Karen over me. I was singing along with the Beatles and “Let It Be” … James Taylor and “Fire and Rain.” I was working the flowers out of my hair and trying on some clothes with disco ball bling. And I was brimming with the belief that life is a fairy tale, happy endings were carved out for every one of us if we only believe, and nothing bad could ever happen to a person like me. I’d like to tell that 7th grader to dial it back just a little. Not all the way. Just a little. Happy endings come in many forms, most of them unexpected.

  59. Stephen H. King on November 18, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    “Hang on, kiddo. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride at first, but the bumps will make you stronger later on. You’ll be a better teacher, and you’ll write stronger characters, because you’ll know what it feels like when life sucks.”

    Ah, seventh grade. That other Stephen King had been popular for a few years by then, so I was just starting to be asked if I were related to him. Meanwhile, I (and a great many others, apparently) found the idea of a policeman, an Indian chief, a cowboy, a construction worker, and a biker singing about a gymnasium to be (strangely) cool.

  60. Wendy on November 18, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    Forgot favorite song: “Oh Very Young” by Cat Stevens (b/c I wanted to be just like one of my older sisters).

  61. Daniel F. Case on November 18, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    Dear 7th Grade Me:

    You’re not bad, just drawn that way.

    (I know you don’t get it, because that movie hasn’t been made yet, but one day you’ll laugh out loud at it. Really.)

    Seriously, you’re not bad. You’re just wired differently. Some day those shrinks that think you’re bad will call the way you’re wired “Attention Deficit Disorder,” but they haven’t figured that out yet.

    You have your own unique way of thinking and processing things. when the way “they” say you should do something doesn’t work and they say, “You can do this if you just try harder,” don’t listen to them. You CAN do it, but you have to do it YOUR way, not theirs.

    You’re not bad, and you’re not broken, and this isn’t something that’s wrong with you. Once you get a grip on how you’re wired, all those impulsive things you do will become spontaneity. Your weird off-the-wall ideas and fantasies will become great creativity. In fact, one day people will PAY you to do what you get punished for now. Yes, really!

    Just a couple more quick things. Love your Mom and cherish those special moments with her. You don’t have much time left with her, and you’re going to need those sweet memories later.

    And one day your Dad will admit that he’s an alcoholic, and he’ll quit drinking and become the man you always wished he’d be. When that happens, don’t waste time on angry grudges and bitterness. Let him make amends. Spend every moment you can with him, and become proud of him while he’s still alive instead of after he dies.

    Most of all, don’t listen to all those negative things about yourself and start to believe them. You’ve got a good kid locked up inside you struggling to be free. Let him out.

    Oh, and don’t do drugs. And quit drinking. NOW!

    See ya later, kid.


    • Diana Dart on November 18, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      Now this had me alternately laughing (out loud) and choking up in tears. Beautiful and oh, so true.

  62. CG Blake on November 18, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    I’m dating myself here, but my favorite song in the 7th grade was, Hey Jude. I was still blown away (and still am) by Sgt. Pepper’, which had come out the previous summer

    I would tell my 7th grade self, “You’re not going to be a geek all your life so don’t sweat it.”

  63. Katy McKenna on November 18, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    In 1967, Motown! Aretha sang R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and so did we….I’d tell my 7th grade self that with just a bit of effort, you’ll still be great friends at age 57 with the kids you love right now. I’d tell myself that as much fun as it is to have world-wide pen pals, someday you’ll communicate with them “online”–whatever the heck THAT means. And I’d tell myself that yeah, you’re gonna have real problems in this life, but you are gonna love and be loved more than you can possibly imagine, too. And your grandkids? They’re gonna be AMAZING.

  64. Marielena on November 18, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Ah, The Wonder Years! But were they? For some, yes. But I would think for most of us they were filled with angst and desire to fit in. I surely didn’t. We had just moved from Texas to Philadelphia and the adjustment was rough.

    I would go back and give a big hug to my 7th grade self and tell her that she’s OK just the way she is, and that although life can be hard at times, there’s lots of joy there, too.

    Music? Loved to dance then and still do, to songs like The Bristol Stomp and Let’s Twist Again. Little did I know I was on the cusp of the most amazing time in music to be a teen — The Beatles and The British Invansion!

  65. Steve Newman on November 18, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    I think you’ve just outlined the next great teen movie! 🙂

    I would tell my 7th Grade self to go for it, sky diving is a lot of fun! Write that book, you won’t regret it. And one day, you’ll know what true love is, so don’t push it.

    Favorite Song – “Take the Money and Run” Steve Miller Band.

  66. Timothy Fish on November 18, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    I don’t remember the 7th grade all that well. I remember a few things, but none of it seems very important. I doubt anything I could tell my 7th grade self would make much difference.

  67. Wendy on November 18, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    Loved this post, Rachelle!

    I’d tell myself to stop applying Silver City Pink lipstick to the point of unhealthy consumption. I’d tell myself to hang on and in a few more years you’ll encounter a hope like none you’ve come across yet. I’d sit myself down, pat my knee (or do something maternal like that), and let myself know that everybody deals with stuff at home. No one lives a perfect life even though many pretend to (this doesn’t change into adulthood). I’d say it’s better to remain kind than to strive for popularity no matter the cost. I’d order myself to stop cutting my own bangs.

    Oh, and 7th grade me, ballet slippers aren’t real shoes. You’re ruining your immune system wearing them without socks in three feet of snow.

    (Carol, I can relate. Hit home.)
    ~ Wendy

  68. Gwen Stewart on November 18, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    I love this post, Rachelle. Waxing nostalgic through music is a regular routine at my house, ever since my 12 yr old daughter discovered that she can distract mom from ANYTHING by playing the 80s Pandora station. I invariably shout, “I remember this song!”–and much singing–and even some kitchen boogie–ensues.

    I wonder if my husband is around the corner secretly filming?

    *Gwen runs to You Tube to see if she’s being mocked in the public square*

  69. Sharon A Lavy on November 18, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    I have a feeling it was Elvis for me in 7th grade.

  70. otin on November 18, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    I think in Seventh grade I was into Meatloaf, Kiss, The Cars….

    I would tell myself to listen to other people a little bit more and to not be such a know-it-all.

  71. Sharon Srock on November 18, 2011 at 7:05 AM

    What would I tell myself…Not to worry so much about a younger sister with a photographic memory who got all A’s while I struggled to get C’s. That life is NOT about who has the cutest boyfriend. I didn’t know that I was about to face the hardest thing in my life, the desertion of my father, so I’d tell myself to be stong and let God hold my hand.

    Favorite song, can’t nail one down. My favorite group was the Monkees and my favorite TV show was Dark Shadows. Yes, I was strange.

  72. carol brill on November 18, 2011 at 6:55 AM

    This is a tough one for me. My dad went from seemingly healthy to having surgery for a brain tumor and was bed-ridden most of my 7th grade year. Made me grow up fast. I guess I’d say, in spite of it all, try to keep being a kid, remember how to play.

  73. marion on November 18, 2011 at 6:01 AM

    “…that little 45…”
    That’s a time capsule, right there!

    My 7th grade? Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys. And various crooners that don’t impress me much.

    In my WIP, it’s turned out that my protag. doesn’t hear music in his childhood. (I suppose he must do, somewhere. But it doesn’t make enough of an impression for him to write it down, decades later.) Music is only alluded to, here and there.

    As he gets older, impromptu music jam sessions keep cropping up.

    So I guess this says: Yes, there’ll be trauma in your life, and moments of desperation and possibly years of despair. But there’ll be those wonderful moments of music.

  74. Jodi Aman on November 18, 2011 at 5:44 AM

    7th grade seems like such a shift from 6th. It seems like kids change so much that year especially in their romantic interests. I remember slow dancing at the ‘sports banquet’ to ‘Baby Come To Me’ and just trying to figure boys out. Intense times.

  75. Marianne Wheelaghan on November 18, 2011 at 5:34 AM

    Not sure what 7th grade is in Scotland …but (as someone else has said) I’d have told myself to take my writing seriously! And I LOVED D.I.S.C.O. and Michael Jackson’s Thriller was great! Also loved Earth Wind and Fire’s ‘September’

  76. Rick Barry on November 18, 2011 at 5:22 AM

    I didn’t like junior high. It can be a tough transition knowing you’re not a little kid anymore, but knowing you’re not an adult either. As I look back and ponder it, I have a suspicion that, no matter what we said to ourselves if we could go back in time and speak to our young counterparts, our young selves wouldn’t fully believe us:

    “It’s been so long since you were my age that you don’t really remember what it’s like anymore. Yeah, you used to be me, but not anymore. Advice from 30 years into the future doesn’t help. I’m still living through it with the same friends and same jerks in the same school. So, thanks, but I’ve just gotta take this day by day and try to figure it all out on my own.” (Sounds like a certain niece I know! 😉

  77. Murr Brewster on November 18, 2011 at 3:48 AM

    What I wonder is if your seventh-grade self would have known what to make of it if she were privy to the information that you would, 35 years later, be “lunging and squatting.”

    I would reassure my seventh-grade self that the pimples will eventually migrate such that no one can see them as long as you’re sitting down.

  78. Arlee Bird on November 18, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    Gosh, it was so long ago. I guess I had a lot of the same worries and concerns that you had. If I could go tell my younger self something I guess it might be not to be so afraid to try things, meet people, and join in the fun–and don’t be so afraid of girls.

    Favorite song “Suspicion” by Terry Stafford.

    Tossing It Out

  79. Noveldoctor on November 18, 2011 at 3:08 AM

    What would I tell myself? I would explain the concept of “self-fulfilling prophecy” then strongly recommend I choose a new favorite song.

    What was my favorite song? “Alone Again, Naturally,” by Gilbert O’Sullivan.

  80. Michael J. Coene on November 18, 2011 at 3:06 AM

    “In the future, Green Day will make a comeback.”

  81. Ruth Taylor on November 18, 2011 at 3:04 AM

    B52’s Love Shack

    7th & 8th grades were the worst two years of my life, so my self-advice is a bit depressing:

    Ruthie, things are going to get better. I know it’s hard with everything that’s going on right now. I know you’re confused, and you have every right to be. Please fight the urge to rebel, though. 8th grade can be a great time if you push everything aside and make the right decisions.

  82. Kari on November 18, 2011 at 2:39 AM

    That just because the 18-year-old kisses you doesn’t mean he’s the only man who ever will. That the relationship with your family is one of the most valuable things you can ever have, no matter how much you don’t realize it now. That you really do have worth. I think my favorite song was Living on a Prayer or something else by Bon Jovi. 🙂

  83. Kate Larkindale on November 18, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    7th grade was when I really discovered music and dove right in. I fell in love with The Smiths that year.

    And what would I tell myself then? That things do get better. You do find friends who treat you like you matter and support you through whatever. And that boys really don’t matter that much…

  84. jeffo on November 18, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    I think what I would tell myself is to don’t be afraid to take a chance. As for favorite song…that’s tough, I really can’t remember. I’m pretty sure it was something by the Beatles, even though they were already done by then, and it was probably something really out to lunch like “I Am The Walrus”. I never did like that disco stuff.

    • David Todd on November 18, 2011 at 10:38 AM


  85. Beth K. Vogt on November 18, 2011 at 2:21 AM

    I would tell myself what I told my daughters (and am already telling my caboose kiddo):
    Don’t park your brain on boys. Go ahead, drive past — but don’t park your brain on boys.
    You can have more than one best friend. Really. Stop all the girl drama.
    And don’t be in such a rush to grow up because sooner than you think you’re gonna be wondering how you ended up with kids who are married!
    Oh–and that first guy you get engaged to? He’s not the right guy. Just a heads up.

    • Heather Sunseri on November 18, 2011 at 9:02 AM

      Ahh, Beth, could you please come tell my 7th grader that. Pretty please. Sometimes it sinks in coming from someone other than your own mom.

  86. P. J. Casselman on November 18, 2011 at 2:13 AM

    I would tall myself to stop playing football. With all the injuries I received in high school and college, I am better than a barometer at predicting the weather!
    Seventh grade music? It was 1976-77 and “Rocky” came out. I ran through the streets with “Gonna Fly Now” in my head. That’s right, I was a boxer wannabe dork! 😀

  87. Shelley Munro on November 18, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    LOL I loved the disco music, but the puppy isn’t that impressed with the noise suddenly coming from the iPad. She’s barking. I’m not sure what the 7th grade equates to in New Zealand, but I loved school. I think I’d tell my younger self to start focusing on writing for publication much earlier.

  88. Charise on November 18, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    I would say: “If Todd is going to break up with you because you won’t french kiss then break up with him first! And no matter how much your mother tells you to do it- do NOT get that perm. And in a few years, buy into something crazy called cellular phones.” And I would say, “It really does work for God’s good. But sometimes we don’t get to see the good and then other times God just takes his own sweet time about it.” I can’t remember if it was 7th grade, but I wore out my Charlie Daniel’s Band cassette. I loved that song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and thought it was so risque it had a curse word in it.

  89. Mary Ruth Pursselley on November 18, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    What I would tell my 7th grade self:
    “Get a grip, girl. You’re not going to marry him. It’s not going to be a NYT Bestseller. So stop agonizing over both of them and just enjoy life!”
    Favorite song from 7th grade:
    Future Generations ( 4Him )… and anything I could use as epic background music for story scenes in my head. : )

  90. Marji Laine on November 18, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    Such a walk down memory lane with disco songs! I actually had to go look up which of my favorite songs were popular when I was in 7th grade. So many started singing through my head and I even downloaded a couple. My favorite was Turn the Beat Around, but loved all of the BEEGEES music from back them. Oh, it takes me back! Thanks for the fun post. I’ll have to play some of it during my workout tomorrow!