I don't feel as smart as my classmates, even though my best friend and my family say I'm smart. How do I improve others' opinions, and my own, about how smart I am? Audrey, 16, Fort Worth, Texas
Of course you're smart, Audrey! Just the fact that you took the time to write to us about wanting to make things better in your life shows how smart you are. And the truth is that everyone is smart in her own way: Some people don't do great on tests or with schoolwork, but they have great common sense. Some people may not know random facts, but they're emotionally smart they're sensitive, kind and caring.
So whenever you start comparing yourself unfavorably to your classmates, stop and say, "I am smart." Then make a list, either in your journal or in your mind, of all your strengths. That way, you'll replace your habit of thinking you're not smart with the habit of thinking you are smart.
The more often you do this exercise, the more confident you'll feel! (But, Audrey, if you're struggling in school in any way, talk to your teachers about what you can do to improve.) And remember, while your classes may feel really grade-focused, the most important part of school isn't your GPA it's what you learn: about your subjects, about the world, about other people and about yourself.
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