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Every year, around this time, I feel an urge to revamp myself. Something about going back to school makes me want to focus on my studies, be more outgoing or get in better shape. My room is clean, my books and school supplies are neatly organized, and I’m ready to face the world.

But sometime during the school year, this feeling fades. I find myself brushing my neglected hair out of my face with one hand while moving scattered stacks of paper from my bed onto the floor with the other.

My point (and I do have one) is that we should maintain the pride and enthusiasm that comes so readily at the end of the summer, all year long. Yes, I don’t look forward to going back to school like every other sane teenager. But I also look forward to the possibilities the new year brings. Those possibilities, however, aren't limited to the start of a new grade or a new school. We can find opportunities to create positive change at anytime, if we’re looking for them.

Maybe, for the first time, you make a promise to say nothing negative about your appearance. For me, this was a big step in accepting my curly hair. When I was 13 or 14 and received a rare compliment about my hair, I would brush it off with something like “It’s really hard to take care of” or “You’re just seeing it on a good day, I guess.” I tended to forget the positive things people said and focus instead on the negative. I do remember the time an older boy spit Pixy Stick sugar in my hair at summer camp and told me I needed a haircut. In hindsight, this may simply have been a slightly misguided 11-year-old’s attempt at getting a girl’s attention. But I was devastated. This memory easily eclipsed years of teachers and friends telling me positive things.

I’ve also learned that the way you perceive yourself affects the comments that you’re likely to absorb. This works both ways. If you’re convinced you’re ugly, stupid, or just a nerd, you’ll barely hear other’s statements to the contrary. If you know in your heart that you’re intelligent, uniquely beautiful, and just the right amount of nerd, (I embrace the bookworm in me), any negative comments from others will roll right off your back.

So whether you want to make a small change in your life or simply decide to think more positively, what matters is the way YOU view yourself, not the way others view you. My mom always used to say “I wouldn’t be happy if any of your friends said these mean things about you, so I’m not letting you say these negative things about yourself.” And you know what? She’s right.

Stay Curly,
Julia


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