My Best Advice for this School Year 2023-2024 • ep. 072

Two tween or teen girls smile as they get off the school bus

Back to School

Did you just start back to school where you’re at? We’re a few weeks into the school year here in Las Vegas. A year ago I did episode 39 with Back to School advice. Recently a few of you asked for another episode like it. So even if it’s the middle of the school year when you listen to this, I want to share my best advice that can help you all school year long!

Allow Yourself to Fail

First, allow yourself to fail. Hear me out. Let’s say you’ve got a big test coming up, team tryouts, an oral presentation, or student council elections. And you’ve got a lot of negative thoughts like, I don’t feel prepared, others will do better than me, I’m gonna embarrass myself! And then if your worst fears come true, your negative self-talk returns even louder with I’ll never be good enough, I’m the worst, I should quit, I’m a failure. Oof, that hurts. Let’s examine this. Your mindset leading into a challenge sets you up for how you’ll do. If you’re so anxious beforehand worrying that you might bomb the test, get cut from the team, freeze during your speech, or lose the election–all that stress leading into it impacts your performance. And then if you end up doing poorly, kicking yourself when you’re already down won’t help you. Shame does not make you improve. Here’s what I want you to try instead.

Before you try and possibly fail at something, prepare your mind with encouraging self-talk. I’ve worked hard and prepared for this. I will do my own personal best. I can do hard things. If I happen to mess up, it’s not the end of the world. And then if you happen to fail, allow yourself to feel your emotions–like disappointment, frustration, discouragement–and show yourself compassion through your self-talk. Sure, I had hoped to do better, but it’s gonna be ok. I really tried my best and I’m proud of my effort. I didn’t get it this time, and I’m going to keep working at it. I’ve bounced back from other fails before. I can learn from this experience and try again. That approach will be way more effective–both in the short and long term. I’m not saying you should expect to fail, just be kinder to yourself when you do. Allow yourself to fail, mindfully.

Make Time Every Day to Disconnect from Tech

My next advice, make time every day to disconnect from tech. Listen, I’m not saying you should give up all of your devices. You know I feel technology isn’t all bad, and I don’t assume that all your screen use is a waste of time. The thing is, we (myself included) are spending more and more time connected to our tech – texting friends, watching videos, doing homework, scrolling social media, listening to music and podcasts. People use their phones while they’re in school, eating, driving, in the bathroom, even sleeping. And we’ve trained ourselves to be available and accessible all the time. When we DO put down our phones/screens, they’re rarely beyond our reach or out of sight. Again, I do it, too. And WHY do we keep our devices closeby and allow ourselves to be accessible at any time? Trevor Haynes, from the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, explained that when we get “positive social stimuli” – including text messages dings, likes/comments chimes, video call rings, etc. – when those notifications happen, our brains release a chemical called dopamine, a neurotransmitter known as the “feel good” hormone. And we like how good it feels when we get a notification. Thanks to FOMO, we keep our phones near us so we don’t miss the brief boost we’ll get when the next notification comes.

The thing is, there are a bunch of other ways to get that good feeling, and they don’t involve technology. So back to my advice: make time every day to disconnect from tech. As Bored and Brilliant author Manoush Zomorodi suggested, keep your devices out of reach and out of sight. I know it sounds tough, but I know you can do it, even for just 10 minutes. What will you do with this tech-free time? Whatever you’d like: have an in-person conversation with a friend, sibling, or parent. Create something, get some fresh air, go for a run, journal, do some self care, practice mindfulness, meditate, or sit with your boredom and see what ideas come from it. I think you’ll be surprised by how good you feel from doing this. Make time every day to disconnect from tech.

Remember Your Worth

Final advice (for this episode): Remember your worth. You will see/hear a ton of messaging–in convos with friends, gossip from classmates, lectures from your parents, fights with your sibling, ads from brands, influencers selling you things, random comments from strangers, cheap shots from trolls. In some of these exchanges, they’ll tell you what they think of you, who you are and aren’t, what you’re not doing right, what’s wrong with you, how you should look, what you should change. Sometimes those messages can weigh you down and leave you feeling pretty low. Remember when Cinderella first tried to go to the ball, she had on her mother’s dress that her animal friends helped with, she was feeling confident and excited. Then her step-mother pointed out a few things in front of her step-sisters and they came at Cinderella, tore her sash, ripped off her necklace, destroyed her dress, and left her not just looking but also feeling demolished.

Some people go to great lengths to tear others down and make them feel like less, like they’re not enough, like they don’t deserve respect, like they have to prove themselves, like they must earn acceptance, like they are worthless. If anyone ever tells you this or makes you feel like this, they are wrong. You are enough, right now. You always deserve respect. You have proven plenty. Your worth is infinite already. And because some people will tell you otherwise, in hopes you’ll forget, in hopes you’ll believe their lies, you need to constantly remind yourself and remember your worth.

Back to School Advice Poster Printable

To help you remember all of this, I created a “Best Advice for This School Year” poster for you to print out, personalize, and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part.

Best advice for this school year 2023-2024 poster printable


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