A Junior High Survival Guide


Junior high doesn’t have to be brutal. By God’s grace, you can sail right through it.

I’ve often said that if someone offered me one million dollars to repeat junior high, I’d turn the money down flat without a second thought. I remember those years. In some ways they were the very toughest years of my life. (I’m looking at you, mean girls.) If you are heading into junior high this school year, I don’t want you to be afraid of what’s to come, and I don’t want you to drown in the sea of drama, change, and increased academic expectations. Junior high can feel like a season of sink or swim, and I want you to swim, baby! So I’m throwing you a life raft. Here are my four tips for how to survive (and thrive in) junior high.
1. Know whose you are.

Part of the reason the junior high years are so significant is because it’s like identity boot camp. You are learning who you will be in the years to come. Will you be an athlete or a musician? Will you be a leader or a follower? Will you be a social butterfly, always at the center of the action or a quiet introvert who glues herself to the walls?

Those are good questions, but their answers don’t really define you. To get to the bottom of who you are, you need to know whose you are.

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28–29).

You are God’s girl. He created you, and He holds you in the very palm of His hand. No one can snatch you from Him or strip you of your identity in Him. You may not belong to the popular group. You may not belong on the basketball team. In fact, you will discover that there are lots of places that you do not fit in, but you do belong in the loving grip of the all-powerful God. Practically, this means:

  • Since God created you, He gets to decide how you will live. Live to please Him, not others.
  • You always, always, always have a place you belong.
  • The other girls in your school are loved and created by God, too. Treat them with kindness.

Speaking of kindness . . .

2. Stop gossip with silence and a smile.

Part of the reason that junior high can be so brutal is that the rumor mill ramps up to a frenetic pace. Junior high girls love to talk about other junior high girls, and you will inevitably find yourself in the crossfire. When people are talking about you, specifically when they are saying things that are hurtful or untrue, you need a game plan. Here is a two-pronged attack to diffuse the situation.

First, let your Defender fight the battle. Psalm 91:1–4 says it this way. (You might want to print this verse out and stick it in your locker.)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

God is your defender. He will fight for you. He wants to protect you from those who would come at you. That means you don’t always have to tell your side of the story or stick up for yourself or confront people when they say something about you that isn’t true. Instead of constantly trying to defend yourself, let God fight for you.

Second, remember that kindness has a way of supergluing people’s mouths shut.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1).

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Rom. 12:20).

I’ll admit that God’s game plan for dealing with those who talk trash feels counterintuitive. He says if someone is mean and hurtful, talk kindly and softly. If they are your frenemy, go out of your way to do something nice.

(Cue record scratch sound effect!)

But God’s crazy plan really does work. When someone tries to hurt you, your response should be to kill them with kindness.

3. Pound this through your head.

This next sentence might feel like a gut punch, but the best way to thrive in these years is to face the fact that it’s not about you. You might need to get this verse stamped on your forearm.

“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

You were not created to be the center of the universe. You are not the axis that your friends, parents, and teachers should orbit around. Your story is simply part of the bigger story where God is the main character and Jesus is the hero. Another truth that feels kind of topsy-turvy to our hearts, but ultimately sets us free, is that in order to be happy, we need to get over ourselves. When we force our eyeballs off of ourselves, we are freed to focus on God and others. When that happens, drama loses its ability to send us into an emotional tailspin.

Here are some simple goals for your junior high years.

  • Champion others as much as possible. Take every opportunity to put other people in a good light.
  • Instead of trying to get people to notice you, get them to try and see Christ through you.
  • Create an online profile that points to something bigger than you. What can you post that goes beyond selfies and status updates?

4. Recruit help.

God’s plan is not that you navigate the choppy waters of life on your own. God’s plan is for you to surround yourself with a community of people who can speak truth into your life, call you out when you get off course, and hold you accountable. You’re not supposed to do the junior high years (or any years) alone. Specifically, let me encourage you to assemble this dream team:

  • A pastor and youth pastor
  • A wise, godly older woman
  • Your mom
  • A friend to pray with regularly

You can do this!

Junior high doesn’t have to be brutal. By God’s grace, you can sail through it. I’ll be right here cheering you on from the sidelines.

In fact, I’d love to start right now. How can I pray for you in the weeks to come? Tell me about it below.

Written by Erin Davis 

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