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In January ...
Clean and rearrange your bedroom to get the new year off to a fresh start. Keep warm with a scarf of your favorite color and a mug of apple cider. Buy a beautiful calendar for your room. Choose one with paintings, photography, inspirational quotes, flowers, or your favorite animals. Pick out something that reflects your personality and hang it where you can see it every day.
Life Is a Journey
Life is a journey, an eternal quest. You are searching for the ultimate treasure—yourself. You traveled down a paved, well-lit path as a child, but now that you are a teen, the journey has become more complicated. Who are you? What is the meaning of your life? What makes you happy? Things that seemed so clear at one time are now hazy and confusing.
Today is the beginning of a new year and it deserves a clean start. Be open to and excited about the experiences, challenges, and learning that await you this year. Remember that life is a journey; don't be discouraged if you aren't the smartest, prettiest, funniest, or most popular or athletic. The longer you travel through your teen years, the more you will learn about yourself and grow into the person you are meant to be.
Perfect Is Boring
One of my mom's CDs includes a duet with Art Garfunkel and his son James. The young boy doesn't sing on key or hit all the right notes, and it's obvious that he hasn't had any training in music, but that doesn't keep him from singing his heart out. The song is far from "perfect," but it definitely has character. It makes you smile, not to mention want to dance and sing along. Whenever my mom plays the song, I have young James Garfunkel's perky voice in my head for the rest of the day.
Why are we always getting down on ourselves for not being perfect? We always want to get straight A's, look like a model, or have everyone like us, but who wants to be perfect? Perfection is not possible; we all have flaws. Besides, it's boring! There is nothing interesting about perfection, and being flawless does not equal being the best. Today, remember that being comfortable with your imperfections is much better than being perfect.
Did you know that there is something that can heal your hurt feelings, end your sense of self-consciousness, and give you a great deal of happiness? It exists, it's free, and it's available to everyone—it's self-love.
Self-love is not about being conceited and egotistical. It doesn't mean bragging, or putting someone else down to lift yourself up. Self-love is about accepting yourself as you are. It's loving your mind even if you don't always get A's, and loving your body even if it isn't the shape you want. It's allowing yourself to make mistakes instead of getting down on yourself for not being perfect.
Start loving yourself today. Instead of thinking, "I'll love myself when I lose five pounds," or, "I would be a better person if I had a boyfriend," try thinking, "I love myself the way I am, imperfections and all!" Be gentle with yourself, and know that you are lovable.
You are in art class when someone compliments the ceramic bowl you just made, and you say, "I think it's terrible. I totally messed it up." Later that day a friend says, "You look cute today!" and you respond, "No way! I hate my hair."
We girls often have a hard time accepting it when other people think we're good at things. When people give us compliments, we tend to dispute them with comments like, "That's not true," or, "Rachel's much better at that than I am." Statements like these don't allow us to accept the praise we get from others, and we maintain our negative self-images because we don't allow ourselves to take in the good stuff.
Today, accept all the compliments you are given. Instead of arguing or being modest, look the person in the eye, and say a sincere, "Thank you." Take in the compliment you are given, and keep those encouraging words with you throughout the day.
Keep a Journal
Today, get yourself a journal if you don't already have one. Buy a leather-bound journal, or one with flowers painted on the front. You can even make your own journal: use stationery and tie it with ribbons, or buy a spiral notebook and decorate the cover with a collage of magazine cut-outs. Your journal should be a book that reflects your personality, one that you will enjoy writing in.
Write in your journal as often as you'd like; write every day, or just when you need to vent your feelings. Describe what you did that day, how you are feeling, or what you hope will happen tomorrow. Don't censor anything; write whatever comes into your head. You will discover that keeping a journal helps you discover dreams that lie deep within your heart, put difficult feelings into words, and solve problems that have been troubling you. A journal is a girl's closest friend.
The I'm-Not-Good-Enough Buster
Have you ever convinced yourself that you aren't good enough? Sometimes when I go out with a group of my friends, I tell myself, "They don't really care if I'm here or not. Nobody thinks I'm funny or listens to me. They would have just as much fun if I wasn't here." Instead of joining the conversation, I just sit quietly, feeling insecure and convinced that nobody wants to hear what I have to say.
Today, before you go anywhere—into a classroom, the cafeteria, or sports practice—tell yourself, "Everyone in the room is going to be happy to see me. Their day will be better because I'm here!" This I'm-Not- Good-Enough Buster will help you overcome your fear of being rejected by people, and will bring out your most energetic self.
No More "I'm Not Mad At You"
Sometimes when I get mad, I give people the cold shoulder. I become quiet and say things like, "Nothing's wrong," or, "I'm not mad at you," even though I am obviously fuming inside. When I do this, I keep my anger bottled up inside instead of getting my feelings out in the open.
Using the cold shoulder tactic when you are mad at somebody will get you nowhere. If you are upset that your sister didn't come to your volleyball game like she promised, or hurt that your boyfriend didn't call when he said he would, let them know. Giving the cold shoulder will keep the other person in the dark about why you are mad at them, and doesn't help you resolve your angry feelings.
Today, tell somebody that you are mad at them and get your angry feelings out in the open. Work together to resolve them.
Beyond Sugar and Spice
"Sugar and spice and everything nice; that's what little girls are made of." I used to recite that rhyme, and as a child, it fit me. I was sweet, I never argued with my mom, and I smiled, played, and laughed innocently. Growing up meant that my sugar and spice got bumped aside by determination, passion, emotion, motivation, and desire. I developed a voice and a will of my own. I was no longer a little girl full of sugar and spice, but a teenager made of fire and ice and everything in between.
How wonderful to leave behind girlhood and become your own individual self! Next time that an adult argues that you are being "difficult," remind them that you are a complex person and have grown beyond simply sugar and spice. You are full of infinite variety! Today, let the world know that here comes an intelligent, fun-loving, strong-willed girl!
What's Important to You?
Values get hard to define when you are growing up and learning new things about life. It's hard to keep a set of values when your life and your opinions are constantly changing. Defining your values is important, though, because values are life's guidelines. They help you achieve the things that are important to you, and they are a way of showing that you respect yourself.
Today, take a few moments to define your values. In your journal, make a list of things that are important to you—friendships, getting good grades, honesty, getting along with your family, helping others, avoiding drugs and alcohol. Once you have your list, elaborate on the separate items. For example, under friendship you might write, "I value friends who listen when I'm sad, include me, and care about me. I value friends who are honest, hardworking, and fun to be with, and I want to be that type of friend for others."
Make Your Words Reality
It's not always easy to act on our values. I have often said, "I want to be less of a gossip," or, "I'm going to try to get straight A's," but sometimes I have trouble biting my tongue when I hear a rumor, or I talk on the phone when I should be studying for a history test.
Today, pick one of your value statements from yesterday and live it. Pay attention to your actions and make a conscious effort to hold that value. If you say that you value honesty, stop yourself when you are going to tell a white lie, and don't allow people to lie to you. Focus on a different value every day until you have made your values a natural part of your life.
What are you good at? What are your strengths? What are your best qualities? I bet these are hard questions to answer. However, if I asked you what you are bad at, what your weaknesses are, or what your worst qualities are, I bet you could answer without much thought. It's time to reverse your thinking and start focusing on your wonderful attributes.
Today, write down five positive things about yourself. Maybe you got a good grade on your Spanish test, or you cheered up someone who was feeling down. Write about how honest, friendly, hardworking, beautiful, and fun you are. Don't be afraid to brag about yourself; nobody will hear. There are many more wonderful things about yourself than there are bad; it's just that the good things are harder for you to see. Start appreciating yourself for the amazingly talented girl you are.
Take Good Care of Yourself
Think about your favorite possession. Maybe it's a teddy bear, a sweater, a photo album, or the telephone. Think about how well you care for that possession—you keep it clean, you are picky about whom you let touch it, and you would never lose it.
Now think about yourself—your body, your spirit, your mind. You are much more valuable than your favorite possession; you are absolutely irreplaceable. So why do you sometimes take better care of your belongings than you take care of yourself?
Today, treat yourself as your favorite thing. Take care of your body by eating healthy food and getting enough sleep. Nurture your spirit by spending time with people you care about and doing things you love. Engage your mind by reading good books and finishing your homework on time. You are valuable and worth being taken care of, so treat yourself well.
If He Says I'm Ugly, I Must Be Ugly
As soon as I turned the corner, I saw him—Andy Johnson, the love of my life! He looked so hot with his navy blue cap turned around backward, talking to his friend. As I walked past, I heard his friend say, "Dude, she's ugly."
"No kidding," Andy laughed.
It is devastating to hear people say bad things about you. It hurts your feelings and can ruin your self esteem. It's easy to believe that if one person thinks you are ugly, then everyone must think you're ugly.
As hard as it is to do, you must not let negative comments get you down. Push them out of your mind; write them off as ignorant statements coming from an ignorant person. People will say bad things about you for many different reasons. Maybe they are jealous of you, or are just trying to be jerks. Today, remember that there are people who think you are pretty, smart, fun, and caring—you should think so too!
Do What You Want to Do
What do you do when you want to ask Jake to the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance, but your best friend wants you to ask Garret because he's her date's best friend? What if your friend wants you to switch out of the painting class you love and into her computer class so that she won't be completely alone? There are many times when your friends will be pulling one way, but your heart will be pulling another.
Today, do what you want to do. By taking care of yourself, you are not being selfish. Selfishness is when you hurt others to get your way—when you lie, cheat, or don't care how your actions will affect someone else. Taking care of yourself means doing what's right for your well-being. It means making a decision based on what you know is best for you even when others want something else. You shouldn't rearrange your life or put your desires on hold to please other people.
Create Night Rituals
Glancing at the clock across the room, I said, "I've got to get off the phone. I want to get to sleep by ten."
Jamie laughed, "It's only eight o'clock. You take more time to get ready for sleep than you do for going out."
I like to take lots of time to get ready for bed at night. While listening to calm music like Enya or Mozart, I perform my nighttime ritual. I climb into the bubble-filled bathtub, and when I finish soaking, I put on soothing lotion and slip into my favorite pajamas. Then I lie on my bed and write in my journal, or paint my toenails. By the time I am ready to go to sleep, I am relaxed and calm.
Perhaps a night ritual would be beneficial for you. Today, get your homework done early, hang up the telephone, and turn off the television. Give yourself time to take it easy and push all worries out of your mind. When you wake after giving yourself a night of pampering, you will feel energized and ready for the day ahead.
Time to Play
Playtime was probably what you thought about most as a child. Most likely, your favorite part of the school day was recess, and your biggest worry was what game you should play and whom to play it with. You had Barbies and board games. You played make-believe, rode your bike, and chased the ice cream truck down the street.
Somewhere along the line, play was exchanged for "maturity." Recess was taken over by more classes, and a stereo, computer, and telephone took the place of the toys that once filled your room. Suddenly the word play was gone from your vocabulary.
Maturity is good, but sometimes we can be too mature for our own good. In our desire to be cool and fit in, we have already forgotten (at age fourteen) the lesson we knew so well when we were six. Play is an enjoyable and essential part of life. Today, fly a kite, build a sand castle, run in the snow, or climb a tree. Cut loose, run free, and have fun!
You Are Not Inferior
One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." This is totally true. If you feel intimidated by someone, worry that nobody wants to be your friend, think that you aren't pretty, or believe that you are stupid and unathletic, it is because you have let someone or something convince you of this.
Today, make Eleanor Roosevelt's words your mantra; repeat them to yourself all day. Don't believe that you are worth less than your peers. Know in your heart that you are just as wonderful as everyone around you, and remember that the negative things people say about you will only affect you if you let them.
She's Such a ...
Have you ever said, "Elizabeth is being a bitch!" or, "I hate Kari; she's such a slut"? These are harsh, strong statements, but sometimes we say these types of things without even thinking twice.
As girls, it is important that we help support all girls. Sure, you aren't going to like everyone or always agree with others' actions, and that's okay. Using words like bitch, tramp, slut, or whore, however, tells others that it is okay to view girls in this way. Even when said jokingly, these cut-downs are heavily loaded with negative connotations—they hurt all girls, not just the ones who are being directly insulted.
Today, quit using words that cut down girls and don't tolerate it when others use them.
Do What You Love
We live in a society where making money and becoming famous is seen as the ultimate success. We are told that if we study hard, get good grades, earn awards, and get recognized, we will be happy. Yet, most of the time we feel unsatisfied when we follow the path we "should" follow.
Today, do exactly what you love! Nothing will give your life more meaning than doing what you want to do, whether that is leaving public school to pursue your love of dance, or spending a semester in Germany on an exchange program.
Remember, the journey to happiness won't always be easy because it may mean going against your parents' hopes, or it may mean pursuing something that isn't seen as "valuable" by society. Keep in mind the famous words of Robert Frost: "I took the [road] less traveled by/And that has made all the difference." You are the only person who knows what will make you fulfilled, so follow your unique path.
Excerpted from Be True to Yourself by Amanda Ford. Copyright © 2000 Amanda Ford. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
The Sisters I Never Had