My name is Emma. And in this photo I’m in the 6th grade.
I recently started middle school and for picture day I decided to wear one of my favorite shirts. I love to read and I love to learn. I could get lost in books for hours. I’ve never tried sports. I’m beyond shy and I hide behind my glasses. I’m worried about how I look and if I will make friends in middle school. And I’m envious of all the other 6th graders who are confident in their own skin…
When I first got glasses…
I started wearing glasses in the 3rd grade when I expressed to my teacher and parents that I couldn’t see the board in the back of the classroom. In elementary school, I didn’t think much about what I wore or how I looked. And I don’t honestly think my friends and classmates around me cared either.
When I started 6th grade, I became fixated on my glasses, my shyness, and insecurities.
Suddenly I was hyper aware of what those around me were wearing, what sports they were doing, and the amount of friends they had school. And I was uncomfortable in own skin and I didn’t think was beautiful.
I used to call my middle school years my “forbidden” years because somewhere along the way I developed a strong association of glasses = middle school Emma. In high school, I was having problems with my contact lenses and had to switch back over to glasses and I couldn’t stand wearing them. My glasses reminded me of how insecure I used to feel so I would wear my glasses the first half of the day and then switch over to contact lenses in the afternoon. In college, I avoided wearing glasses as much as possible. The only time I wore my glasses was right before I went to bed.
It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I started wearing glasses outside of my apartment. In fact even though it was never captured, I did spend most of first year working in the real world wearing my glasses.
I realize now that I had such a negative perception about wearing glasses because of how I felt in middle school. Even though I’m not 12 or in middle school anymore, I vividly remember feeling insecure about my appearance, my belonging, athletic abilities, and more.
But middle school and my glasses marked a time of transformation for me.
Even though I started out incredibly shy, I summed up the courage to try gymnastics and track for the first time. I tried out for the gymnastics team in 6th grade and surprised myself and my family when I made the Swing team. I got to practice with the varsity team but competed at the junior varsity level. And if there was a need, the Swing team members could compete in the varsity meets. I ended up loving gymnastics and begged my parents for lessons once week in the summer time. So by 7th grade I had come back with back handsprings and made the varsity team.
My 7th grade year I also wanted to run track. We easily had 100-150 kids on the track team in middle school because it was the cool thing to do. I learned how to long jump, run hurdles, and worked on sprints. After a year of conditioning, I won the 200 M hurdles and long jump in my school district and came in 2nd in 75 M hurdles (my biggest 8th grade accomplishments).
In 8th grade I traded my glasses for contacts. But the decisions I made in those glasses and those accomplishments at 12 and 13 years old helped transform my confidence and attitude about myself.
So I’m choosing to change my narrative about “middle school Emma” and those “forbidden years”. Instead I’m choosing to see my glasses as a time of growth and development. My glasses never held me back, if anything they helped me see those hurdles on and off the track. They helped me see that I could overcome being shy and that I could make friends.
At 26, I still love to read, I love to learn, and I love to run. My glasses have been with me through every step of my journey. And I’ve learned to feel beautiful with and without them on!
So I wanted to give a shout out to Ollie Quinn for gifting me these gorgeous glasses.
My dog Boone recently chewed up my pair of glasses… So when Ollie Quinn approached me, I knew it was fate.
I was so excited to pick out the Juniper! I wanted bold glasses that reflected my personality. I personally have never gotten frames shaped like this before so I was really excited to try something new.
If you need a new pair of glasses or sunglasses this year, you can use the discount code: OQEmma to get 10% off both online and in-stores!
Here are a few other favorites: Bethany in the Dancing Grey Smoke – a black and white marble print, Jelka in Black – this is a subtle cat-eye frame, and Relle in Silver – a circular wire frame.
Thank you for reading!
Photos: Karya Schanilec