Sister to Sister: When You Fail, Take Your Own Advice

by Alexa Salvato, New Moon Girls

With school starting up in the next few weeks, many teens will be pushing themselves hard to achieve in many ways. Here is a blog post written by Alexa Salvato, a mentor at New Moon Girls, an inspirational magazine and online community for girls ages 8 and up to engage in self-discovery, creativity, and supportive connections. Feel free to share this post with the young women in your life.

I had one academic goal for high school: to be on the Principal’s List every quarter. The Principal’s List is our school’s highest honor roll, with all averages above 94.45 percent. I wanted to be on it so badly. I worked so hard, and when I was up studying past midnight, I would remind myself of the goal: Principal’s List. It would be my proof that I was smart. It would give me the right to say so—or I would just be like everybody else, and to me, that seemed awful.

Teen girl courtesy of New Moon GirlsThen, the final quarter of my sophomore year the unthinkable happened: a 94.38. Yes, that was my fourth quarter average, everyone. 0.07 percent off from the goal I had so intensely defined myself by. What the heck was I supposed to do now? I had tried as hard as I possibly could and I failed. I’d always been told by parents, teachers, even New Moon Girls, that if I tried my hardest, I could achieve whatever I wanted. But I didn’t. I was heartbroken.

I’m not seeking pity here. And I’m not complaining. I know many people have so, so many worse things to deal with.

I’m using this experience of mine to help you deal with the first time you try hard to do something and can’t do it. Sometimes this is due to competition with others. For example, even if you try your hardest for a part in the school play, someone else could get the role. That’s different, though, because people other than you had control. It’s hard when so much pressure is on you, when the standards you set for yourself become too high.

After my grades fell short of my expectations, one of my close friends reminded me that the same thing had happened to her last year. She had been about a point away from the same goal, and I had consoled her, saying that it didn’t make her any less smart. It didn’t make her any less deserving of praise. It’s not like her parents, or even colleges, would care about one little point.

It wasn’t the first time stuff like this had happened to me, either. When I was in middle school I was very concerned about my weight and appearance. I thought that I was overweight and if anyone else “noticed,” they wouldn’t like me anymore. I knew how silly that was, at least logically. Yet at the same time, I was on New Moon Girls’ Girls Editorial Board and spent tons of time on telling others that everyone was beautiful and weight didn’t matter—and I believed it, too. But much like with my friend and our grades, I couldn’t manage to believe it when it came to myself.

I don’t know if this is only a female issue, but I think it has a certain relationship to self-esteem that exists with a lot of girls. Whether it’s natural or nurtured, girls are often empathetic—aware of others’ emotions. We understand what it feels like to go through troubles, and are great at consoling each other.

Yet sometimes we can’t take our own advice.

This is a reminder to girls: Don’t just treat others how you’d like to be treated, but treat yourselves well, too. Imagine how much we could all get done if we focused on our awesomeness instead of on our supposed faults.

Can you think of a time when you gave great advice to a friend? What was that advice? What comments or advice do you have for other girls who can’t seem to take their own advice?

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