RYB's Guide to Rocking the New School Year!

There is a lot to love about back to school time; using your crisp new school supplies, reuniting with friends, getting a whole new chance at the school year. It’s fun and often exciting. Halloween is right around the corner! As exciting as it can be, there are often a lot of different emotions to deal with as well. Sadness that the summer has come to an end, and some of your plans didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. Feeling nervous or anxious about adjusting to new teachers or maybe even a whole new school. It’s easy to feel excited and a bit scared to face friends that you haven’t seen over the summer.
It’s a wonderful time to compare stories and trade adventures and it’s also a time of seeing all the changes that have taken place during the vacation. Some of us may have a new hair cut or our bodies may be bigger. Some of us may have a whole new wardrobe or look a bit smaller. Maybe we went from being the tallest to being one of the short ones.  It’s such an easy time to get caught in comparing yourself to others and trying to fit in. Sometimes a friend may say something about your appearance that hurts your feelings, and sometimes you may be that friend. Maybe you want to be noticed, and maybe you just want to blend in, and probably a bit of both at different times in the same day. It can get confusing and overwhelming. It’s a hard time to stay confident and feel safe about who you are.
Are there ways that you can prepare yourself for the coming year? How can you stay safe and be your strong beautiful self with so many changes.

Well, the good news is, you are not alone. Everyone is in the same boat and there are some helpful tools you can use to stay safe and comfortable when navigating these rough waters.
1)    Why not write down your feelings and thoughts? It feels good to get it out and also have a record of your journey. Finding a beautiful journal can be a fun shopping trip. It gives you a safe activity to engage in when you’re feeling alone or when you need a reason to take a break from others. Also, it’s your own personal story and you don’t have to share it with anyone or apologize for what you’re thinking and feeling. It’s just for you. Carry it in your backpack so you have the safety to use it whenever you need. 
2)    Be courageous. Sometimes the easiest way to feel good about ourselves it to help someone else. Do you see any opportunities to stand up for yourself or a friend? Is there someone new and lost at your school that may appreciate your kindness? Sometimes it’s as simple as walking up to someone new and saying hello. Sometimes a great way to forget about fitting in is offer your help to someone else who has trouble fitting in too.
3)    Stay calm and speak up. School can be such a mixture of different people. It’s a new and exciting time but also a chance to engage with people who think, act and speak differently from you. Maybe you love your new dress, but someone else is going to make fun of it. Maybe you still love coloring and expressing yourself as an artist but someone else is going to tell you it’s for kids. Maybe your best friend only wants to eat the meal plan written in her mom’s magazine, and suggests that you feel the same way.

       Remember, only one person in the entire history of the world will get to be you… and guess who that is? You! You do it better than anyone so do not give up your own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. If you like your dress, wear it with pride. Maybe someone else hates it. Maybe someone else wants to feel better and can only do that by making fun of you. You can always take a deep breath and say, I like who I am so I don’t need to change. Say it out loud. Say it in your head. Remember, you can always make a quick bathroom break to write it down in your journal. Don’t feel ashamed to express yourself even if it’s different from what others think. It feels good to get our opinions out instead of keeping them inside all the time.
4)    Try to find the positive. Even a day with some tough spots doesn’t have to be a bad day. Guess what? Life is complicated. You can have the best class followed by the worst phone call. It’s always a mixed bag and that’s what makes life so wonderful and surprising. Practice looking for one positive thing in every situation. Maybe you don't like wearing gym shorts, but you still get to run around and have fun for the entire class. Maybe you have a math test tomorrow, but you also have a beautiful sunny afternoon to spend outside studying. Things will get rough and things will get better so why not look for the things that make you smile!
There is a whole year ahead of you that you can fill with adventures and fun. Remember to be kind to yourself and others. Remember that you are beautiful. Let yourself shine from the inside out and have a great school year!

Written by Tracy Jennissen

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