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Characters Who Inspired Me: Kayla from 'Eighth Grade' (2018)

This is easily the character that I have related to the most over the years. As early as seeing the trailer for this festival darling in 2018, I instantly knew that I would identify so much with her and her journey. Upon actually seeing the movie in theaters later that summer, I experienced an emotional catharsis that I could literally feel wash over me. Every nuance of Bo Burnham's script and direction, as well as Elsie Fisher's performance, felt so accurate to how I felt when I was in eighth grade. Every hesitant line delivery, the way Kayla carried herself, was so true to my own experience as a shy, depressed kid. I was so incredibly happy for her when things started going right, and absolutely devastated when things went wrong. During the climax of the film, when Kayla opened up to her dad (an outstanding and sympathetic Josh Hamilton), I cried the hardest I had ever cried in a movie. To this day, nothing has come close to beating it.

But I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that while the potential was there in the material, Elsie Fisher realized it fully through her acting. It immediately became my favorite performance not just of the year, but of all time, and as I walked out of the theater that day, I knew I had just seen the best film of 2018. For so long, I had felt like there was just something wrong with me, and by seeing this character and thinking how great she was, even though she couldn't see or feel it, made me realize that maybe I was alright too. From thereon out, I vowed to start pushing myself out of my own shell, to try new things and new people. So kudos to Mr. Burnham and Ms. Fisher, as well as everyone else who contributed to this absolute gem of a film. I couldn't thank you more for making it.

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