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home : columns : dear harriette April 3, 2020

2/10/2020 7:38:00 AM
Bright student having doubts about potential

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have just started another semester at college. So far, it has been decent. The courses I am taking are a bit more challenging, but at least I have really good professors.

For the fall semester, I received straight A's, and it boosted my GPA. I have been stressed out lately because I am having second thoughts about my potential. I know that since I did well last semester, I need to do exceptionally well this semester. I know that the new semester just started, but I want to know what I can do to not second-guess myself. -- Hardworking Student

DEAR HARDWORKING STUDENT: Having been an A student myself, I personally understand your concern. What I did was focus on learning everything that my professors taught. I did not focus on the grade. I recommend that you pay attention to the syllabus, set up a study schedule for yourself that includes ample time for paying attention to your work and enough time for rest. Do your best to include time for fun. If you only do schoolwork, you could stress yourself out. And if you find yourself slipping in a subject, ask your professor for support early on and find out if you can do some extra credit.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I think that I am a pretty girl. I love to dress up, fix my hair and put on a little makeup before going out. Many people say that I am beautiful, but I always feel like they are lying to me. Sometimes I will stare at the mirror and complain about my flaws. Sometimes I wish my skin was clearer or I was a bit thinner. I have become overly obsessed with my looks.

Every time I look at myself, I never see anything positive. My friends and family say that I am beautiful all the time, but I always feel bad about myself. Or maybe they are just saying that to be nice to me. What can I do to gain some confidence in myself? -- Self-Conscious

DEAR SELF-CONSCIOUS: You should change your focus from how you look to who you are and how you present yourself to the world. My mother used to say to my sisters and me, "Pretty is as pretty does, girls." We were taught that how you look on the outside is nowhere near as important as how you behave, how you treat people and how you reflect your values.

Of course it is good to pay attention to your exterior. You should work to present yourself appropriately for whatever the moment is, but how you look will only build confidence short-term. The way people look changes day to day and over time. The way you behave can be consistent, regardless of how you look. You can gain confidence in yourself by aligning with what you believe is right. Consider what you think is important, and enforce your beliefs. Your conviction and clarity will become attractive to like-minded people.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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