School just started back, and I hope that it's going better than you expected, but I know firsthand just how rocky the beginning can be. There are so many questions and surprises. Everyone is anxious to find out who switched up on who, what kind of changes happened over the summer, and how everyone is going to vibe together, and that can be overwhelming. Although I love people, there are times when I just want to withdraw into my imaginary shell and ignore everyone until they all go away. Unfortunately, that's not always an option in the real world so let's look at a suggestion or two that may help you cope with all of the back to school emotions.

How have people been treating you? Are they accepting of who you are or do they throw shade in a way that makes you want to question their loyalty? Sixth and seventh grades were pretty difficult years for me since I was so insecure in my body. The braces, the glasses, the greasy permed hair that I didn't know how to style, and the yearbook pictures only added fuel to the fire. Until 8th grade. That summer I'd worked as a tour guide at the middle school, I'd found a few braided hairstyles that I enjoyed, and my mom allowed me to choose my clothes for the first time in back to school history. I just knew it was going to be a good year, and I acted like it too.

What surprised me was that others weren't as welcoming to the new me as I expected them to be? I received quite a few side eyes, head tilts, and shady comments directed at me as people questioned who the new girl in front of them was. Before I knew it, I had drama with a few girls I thought were my friends and one argument even ended in a fight. All in the beginning of the school year! When given the choice, I decided to change schools because...well, who wouldn't? I don't regret that decision (because it led to a few amazing friendships and a drama free environment), but I do regret the choice that followed which caused me to dim my light and adjust to the expectations of others more and more the older I grew.

If I can encourage you to do anything this year, it would be to enjoy who you are without apology! That does not mean that you should disrespect your teachers or treat others as if they are less than you. Humility will help you get a lot more lit opps than cockiness ever will. Enjoying your personality, your interests, and the ability to express it all in creative ways is crazy fun and freeing when you choose to set the standard of what's cool without always following what others say the standard is. Remember you were created to shine, have fun with it!

Now, let's talk. Tell me how the first few weeks of school have been for you and remember to drop any questions you have below.