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Challenge: Back to School 2021

What's In Your Backpack?

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Recently, I've been interviewing guests on the DO WIT podcast for our "Back To School" series. Each episode recording is going way too quickly because the guests are so inspiring and engaging ... I can't wait until they are released!

At the end of the first "Back to School" recording, I asked a question that was unplanned. I asked, "If you were heading back to school, what 3 things would you pack in your metaphorical backpack?" The answer was so inspiring that I continued to ask the question in each episode. (teaser: Girls Mentorship, Dr. Melanie McNally, Danielle Farage, Julie Howe (host of Hitting The Wall podcast) and more are on upcoming episodes!)

Today I decided to write this post to share not only the 3 things I would pack, but to ask


all of you the question. I would love to crowdsource your answers and share them with all the young people packing those real backpacks and heading into a new school year!

What I would tell my 15 year old self to pack ....

Judge well. The school hallways and the hallways of your mind are full of judgment. Judge well.
Ask yourself ... "Is that thought helpful or hurtful?"
If it's the latter, choose a different thought and keep asking the question until the answer becomes "helpful".
Remember - what works for others might not work for you. The education system isn't built to meet the needs of every student. Don't make that mean you aren't smart or a capable learner. Also, just because an adult said it doesn't mean it's true.
Use discernment.


Protect your joy and cultivate joy. You will be surrounded by people glorifying busyness and stress ... don't take the bait. There's nothing glorious about stressing yourself out or overworking yourself. I know the homework load can be brutal. If it becomes unreasonable, request a meeting with your Principal. The school works for you. You are the customer and you get to meet with management when you need extra help and explanations.
So many things will happen that will make you think the odds are against you.
They aren't.
Life gets better and better.
High school is just the beginning and while it's important to take education seriously, trust me ... it isn't the end of the world if you get a C.
Please have fun and lighten up. Oh … and don’t engage in gossip. It’s the fastest joy stealer around!

Acceptance of others and yourself. Instead of obsessively focusing on your thighs (they are fine ... you aren't fat) ... shift that focus onto things that you are interested in. It's OK if other people aren't interested in the same things, have fun learning about yourself and what interests you. In the paraphrased words of Dr. Seuss ... no one is more you-er than you ... so just be you. Plus, the fight to be like someone else is a fruitless one and one day (after some coaching, therapy, and life experience) you'll eventually love yourself, so why not start sooner rather than later. And let others off the hook, too. The high school years are full of people trying to figure themselves out. It's messy and it's hard ... show others some grace. But also don't take any s&*t.

I know a lot has changed since I was in high school, but something that is still the same is the back-to-school nerves. Maybe if we all shared with the tweens and teens in our lives our list of "must have backpack items", they might just walk those hallways a little happier and with their heads held a little higher.

Can't wait to read your answers!

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