To my tween daughter (and her friends, both boys and girls) on the eve of middle school:

m-beachI’m not a magician.

If I knew the magic words to make the mystery of middle school melt away, I would share them with you and the zillions of other 11-year-old brains spinning tonight with so many questions and lots of worries. While not magical, I can tell you that you will figure it all out, that everyone will be lost to some extent and that in a matter of days it will feel comfortable — or at least not uncomfortable.

And I can tell you that even though I moved and started a new a school when I was 11, being the “new” girl didn’t leave a lasting impression. I can’t really remember the first week of sixth grade, so how good or bad could it have been?!

But there are things I do remember and things I’ve learned over the years that have some magical powers, and I want you to know them before you take this relatively big step -- one I know you've been thinking about a lot lately.

I’m sharing the tricks I’ve learned because when I stare into your gorgeous, sparkly, happy eyes, I see your confident, brave, leader self, but I also see the worries and the nerves that are completely natural as you make a big transition in your life.

No magic spells, but a here’s a few equally powerful messages for you:

Your teachers understand. Every single one of them had a first day, a first week of 6th grade. And whether or not they remember it fondly or with pain, they’ve made a career out of sixth grade because they understand -- because they want to help you learn, make progress and succeed. Put your trust in them, be grateful for them and let them steer you on this journey.

You can do it. Changing classes, remembering a combination and wearing those old-school gym uniforms all make you uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t handle it all. You can! You can get the work done and figure out your schedule. And I’ll bet you even figure out how to fit all of your crap and your winter coat in your locker come December. It may be a challenge, but you can do it!

Be confident. This, my girl (and all her friends, boys and girls alike!) is the closest I get to magic words -- be confident! Tell yourself you can do this, tell yourself you’ll crush your goals big and small in 6th grade (for that matter, consider setting some goals!) and tell yourself that you’ll stay true to who you are with strong morals, ethics and a positive, kind outlook on the middle-school world around you. Confidence doesn’t always come easy, and there will always be people around you stifling it, but confidence has power. It’s magical.

Sixth grade can be a stressful space, and it may bring out the worst in some friends as they navigate and learn, but your confidence will help protect you. It will serve as an armor so keep wearing it, keep it shiny and keep it strong!

To my girl, all of her friends, the new ones we don’t know yet and the many others having back-to-school nerves (parents and teachers, too!), I wish for you all a great year filled with gratitude, growth, happiness, stamina, courage to overcome and the confidence to drive you and protect you when you need it.


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