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My Middle School Gym Was a Factory of Awkwardness

The middle school gym was a factory of awkwardness. I experienced grief, averted eye contact, and suffered through odorous encounters with those who had yet to grasp the concept of deodorant. And even though I used this heavenly product, I still sweat. A lot. Six hours of my school day were spent gross and sweaty.

Yes, I was stuck in first period gym. I had to wake up at 7 a.m. in the morning and put on a dress-code appropriate outfit. One hour later at 8 a.m., I had to change into P.E. clothes. I spent the rest of the day gross and sweaty in my other classes. No, thank you.

But running around wasn’t even the worst of it. Oh no.

The worst was when I had swimming instead of P.E.. I had to change into a bathing suit. For the rest of the day, I reeked of chlorine. Plus my face was all dried-out, and my hair stayed tangled and wet. Over the course of three hours, my hair eventually dried.  But until then, the water pooled into a big wet circle on the back of my shirt just past the ends of my hair.

On the days when I wasn’t worried about my face drying out, I was extremely concerned about it being pelted with a dodgeball. My friends and I always huddled toward the back to avoid any dodgeball casualties.

Kickball, however, was my personal favorite. All I had to do was kick the ball straight up in the air for someone to catch it and strike me out. There was no running and very little sweating involved. With teams that had to work together, it was also harder for boys to gang up on girls or leave them out completely. On kickball days, I was a little more motivated to lace up my shoes (but it was still a pain to put on my khakis after gym was over).

Not only was gym class during the day painful, but also middle school socials turned the gym into a factory of awkwardness at night.

Some genius once decided to invite all of the private middle schools and bring 200 middle school kids together for a “middle school social.”This genius wasn’t totally off. In theory, if middle school students from different schools were able to meet each other in a supervised fashion, maybe they would make new friends that would continue on through high school!

But in reality these socials were awful. 200 awkward middle school kids stared at the gym floor, doing everything humanly possible not to make eye contact with one another. We all spent a few painful hours trapped like that in the middle school gym.

At 9 p.m., we were finally released. And it smelled in there! The sweat from earlier combined with additional sweat and stress from the night.

My two words of advice if you want to survive middle school: wear deodorant.

Joanna Sherman is a junior at Hawken and is very glad that she no longer has to take PE.

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