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October 21, 2017

WHY AM I SO SHY?

Dork Diaries Ask Brandon being shy

Um, Hi Brandon,

So, uh…I want to make friends.  But the thing is that I’m shy and it’s getting in the way.  Any advice on how to be outgoing?

Thanks,

Shy Guy

Hey Shy Guy,

Let me start by saying that it took a lot of courage for you to write me about this.  It’s half the battle to admit to a total stranger that you’re shy and want to be more outgoing.  Good job.

Now that we’ve broken the ice some and are no longer strangers, let me confess that I’ve been there before.  I was shy when I first came to WCD because I felt like the only kid who wasn’t from a wealthy family and didn’t know anybody.  It was the worst.

But, in the end, I took a chance and actually got to know people who were a lot like me.  To this day, I’ve never regretted taking that chance.

The thing is, you need to take that same chance without letting shyness get in the way.  With every new person you meet, there’s a chance—a chance that they may or may not like you, a chance that you will or won’t hit it off—and that’s why it sometimes feels easier just to remain shy. Because then you won’t have to face any rejection if it doesn’t work out, right?

Well, actually, you still are.  It’s called self-rejection.  Dude, you’re actually letting yourself believe you’re not good enough for somebody out there somewhere to eventually like you and become your friend.  I think that’s the real reason why the cat’s got your tongue.

Shy Guy, you’re a GREAT guy.  It’s time to believe in yourself, man up, and speak up.  (And, if there are any shy girls reading this, you can try what I’m about to suggest, too.)

Here’s a foul-proof, tried and true way to kiss “shy” goodbye and make the friends that you deserve:

  1. First thing’s first.  Look yourself in the mirror and declare that you ARE cool enough to take a chance on getting to know somebody new.  There IS somebody out there who’s actually worth opening up to.  That person WILL make a great friend, and so will you.
  2. Know what you’re into.  What are your interests or hobbies?  What are you passionate about?  What can you not stop talking or thinking about?  Whatever it is—writing, video games, computers, singing, etc.—use it as your fuel for opening up and talking to people.  Take my good buddy, Max Crumbly, for example.  He’s a pretty shy guy too, but when it comes to rapping, and the dude gets going, he CANNOT stop!
  3. Next, look for ways to meet people who are into what you’re into.  For instance, if you love books, become a library assistant at your school (that’s actually how I met Nikki Maxwell.  She was working at the library desk one day, and I actually went up to her and said “Hi.”  We’ve been great friends ever since.  True story!)  You could also join a book club.  Since the focus is on books, it should be easier to chat with the people in it.  Or, if you’re not into books and love art, join an art club.  Or if you’re into soccer, try out for the soccer team.  The point is—whether it’s books, sports, art, you name it—talking with someone new is a lot easier when the topic is something you both love.
  4. Don’t give up!  Let’s face it—there are some people in this world that aren’t very friendly.  But, there are also people that are.  Those are the ones you want to meet.  If you haven’t met any yet, don’t chicken out and stop talking.  Keep on looking and keep the conversation going.

I hope this advice helps.  I know you’re an awesome person and that there’s somebody out there just waiting to meet you.  So, don’t let being shy stop you.

Hey readers, what advice do you have for overcoming shyness?
October 18, 2017

I’M FREAKING OUT ABOUT EVERYTHING!

Dork Diaries Ask Nikki anxiety

Dear Nikki,

I struggle with anxiety and get so nervous about the littlest things! For example, whenever I see bad news on TV or hear about severe weather reports, I get so uneasy that I start to feel queasy. I’ve tried talking to my mom about this, but is there anything else I can do?

Freaked Out About Freaking Out

Hi Freaked Out About Freaking Out,

First of all, BIG HUGS! (If you like hugs. If not, no worries. High five for putting yourself out there!)

There’s A LOT of stuff going on in the world, and some of it can be pretty scary. But, it’s super important for you not to freak out over it. Life is WAY too short for that!

I think it’s HUGE that you realize what anxiety is. A lot of people struggle with these stressful, overwhelming feelings but can’t name them, and that’s even worse. Naming it is an important step!

Second, the struggle is real, so you shouldn’t have to tackle anxiety on your own. I’m glad you’re talking to your mom about it. You have other options too, like a school counselor or therapist. Whatever you do, don’t keep it to yourself, because pint-up anxiety is what causes the queasiness!

Here are a few other things I know that might help when you feel anxiety creeping up:

  1. BREATHING: I mean, duh, I hope you’re breathing! But I’m talking about slow, deep breaths. Try this—find somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down. Think of two things you really, really love. It could be chocolate, books, your cat or your dog. Personally, I’d choose Chloe and Zoey since they’re by BFFs! Now set a timer for four minutes, and for the whole four minutes, take long, slow breaths and when you breathe in and out, say whatever those things are to yourself. For instance, my inward breath would be “Chlooooeeeee,” and my outward breath would be, “Zoooooeeeeey.” Focus on the breathing and saying the name of the things in your head as you breathe. By the time four minutes are up, you won’t feel as anxious!
  2. “WHAT IF” COMPARED TO “WHAT IS:” Sometimes when you’re feeling anxious, your mom might try to use logic on you, like, “Of course the world isn’t going to end tonight, honey. There’s absolutely no good reason to believe that.” Or whatever. But that doesn’t usually help, right? One thing you can do, though, is try to move yourself away from thinking about What if…? Instead, try to get your brain to focus on What is…? What is means thinking about the true facts around you at that moment. So instead of thinking, “What if a major natural disaster strikes while I’m sleeping?”, go through a list of things that are really happening at the moment. For example, “It’s raining. I’m wearing my Fifth Harmony t-shirt. My dog just jumped into my lap.” Focus on sensory details—what you see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. Focusing on what’s real can help your brain stop freaking out about what’s not real.
  3. FIDGET SPINNERS: I’m sure a bunch of your friends have fidget spinners and maybe you do too! But did you know they can help you handle anxiety? (Fidget cubes can also work, or really anything that gives your fingers something to do.) It’s really the same idea as when people bite their fingernails as a “nervous habit.” But this way, you don’t harm your body!
  4. SLEEP, EXERCISE & EATING HEALTHY: When you’re overtired and sluggish, anxiety gets worse. In order to beat anxiety, try to exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Eat healthy food, too! The sugar and caffeine in junk food can cause anxiety. So, the next time you’re craving a Twix bar, try reaching for some crackers with peanut butter or a juicy, sweet apple instead!

I hope some of those things help! But most of all, I hope you realize you don’t have to tackle your anxiety alone.

Who else struggles with anxiety, and how do you handle it?
October 16, 2017

WATER PARK MANIA

So, I THOUGHT I was going to have the house to MYSELF all day! Well, to myself, Chloe and Zoey, who were going to come over for a relaxing “girlz day in.” Dad had to work and Mom was taking Brianna to a birthday party at a water park, since it was an unseasonably warm fall day and 89 degrees.

But the night before, the birthday girl slipped during her tap dance class and broke her arm. So sad!!

And just like that, Brianna’s plans were cancelled. She was NOT happy about it.

My mom offered to take her out for ice cream.

“That’s NOT the water park!” she shrieked.

My mom offered to arrange a play date with another one of the disappointed birthday guests.

“That’s still NOT the water park!!” Brianna shouted.

Mom tried offering a few more fun filled options before finally throwing her hands up, and leaving Brianna to have a mini meltdown.

By the time Chloe and Zoey came over, Brianna was done freaking out. But she was still super unhappy. She opened the door to Chloe and Zoey, wailed, “I’m not at the water park!” and then ran to her room and slammed the door.

I felt bad for the little brat, but what could I do??

So, Chloe, Zoey and I started our “girlz day in” by following these crazy recipes for homemade facials—yogurt, honey, eggs, butter, oatmeal and bananas!! I mean, who would’ve thunk all I had to do to get flawless skin was stick my face into my breakfast?!

And, if the facial remedy didn’t work, we could just use all the ingredients to make yummy oatmeal banana cookies! Like, how cool is that?! 🙂

Brianna came into the kitchen while we were waiting for the gloopy stuff to work its magic on our pores.

“Hi, cutie pie!” Chloe said. “Want to have a facial with us?”

Brianna grabbed one of the bananas we hadn’t used, shrieked, “NOT THE WATER PARK!” and ran back to her room.

Okay, so maybe she WASN’T done freaking out.

After we washed off the facials, we were going to do our nails and watch The Princess Diaries. But instead, Zoey said, “Hey guys, I have an idea!”

(My BFFs are the BEST. Just sayin’!)

It took us a while to get permission from my mom and gather the materials. Then another while to get it all set up. Then we were finally READY!

I was afraid after all our work that Brianna might just scream at us. So we sent Chloe to knock on her door. I swear, that girl is MAGIC with the kiddos! When she led Brianna to the back door, Zoey and I yelled, “Surprise! Welcome to Brianna’s Backyard Water Park!!!”

There was a pause. We waited for her to scream at us. And she did! But this time, she was all like…

“OMG, OMG, OMG!! My very OWN water park??!!!”

She was SO happy. Yay!

She ran for the water slide first. It was just a bunch of plastic garbage bags we grabbed from the pantry. We’d taped them together and then laid them out on a small hill in the backyard, and Zoey was standing there, watering them with the hose.

“Don’t you want to get into your swimsuit on first?” Chloe called.

But Brianna was already diving onto the garbage bags. It didn’t look THAT thrilling to me, but Brianna was screaming her head off. In a good way! She was screaming so much that my mom came running outside, afraid something horrible had happened.

“Wow,” she said when she saw our set-up. “This is amazing, girls!”
After the water slide, we turned on the sprinklers and Brianna got to run through them all around the house. Then we did some baseball with water balloons, and then catching practice with bowls strapped onto our heads. Brianna was supposed to throw the balloons into the bowls, where they would explode and get us wet. She almost never hit the bowls, though. She mainly just nailed us with water balloons and cackled maniacally.

Then, for the grand finale, we had a water gun fight – Chloe and Zoey against me and Brianna! Mom even ended up in the crossfire when she thought the coast was clear to come outside! I thought she might get mad, but instead, she picked up the hose and drenched us all!!

So, or little “girlz day in” was a whole lot wetter than expected and our backyard was NOT THE WATER PARK, but everyone ended up happy in the end! 🙂

Well, probably not the birthday girl with a broken arm. But maybe when she gets her cast off, we can have her come over and run through the sprinklers. It worked for Brianna!

Hey readers, what’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done on a really hot day?
October 14, 2017

I’M DROWNING IN HOMEWORK!!!

dork diaries ask brandon study skills

Hey Brandon,
I started school a few weeks ago, and I’m really stressed out over the amount of homework I’m getting! What should I do?!

Homework Help Please!!

Hey Homework Help Please,

I wish I could come over and help you with your homework right now! Not that I’d be that much help, but I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed with homework and not know what to do.

It’s like the older you get, the more homework you receive in school. Plus, every teacher is different and some will assign more homework than others. It would probably help a LOT to make sure you’re organized and plan ahead in case that happens.

Here are some things that might help you get (and stay) organized:

  1. Use a planner: There are apps specifically made for tracking homework assignments and reminding you of due dates. Just search homework planner and you’ll find options. If you’re more of an old-school planner kind of person, you can also find special notebooks that help you track assignments, break projects into manageable chunks, remind yourself of due dates, etc.
  2. Study In The Right Environment: You might be the kind of person who needs total silence and no distractions while you study. OR you might be the type of person who needs your most rocking playlist blaring at the loudest volume. Figure out what works for you, and then make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by studying in the best way that works for you.
  3. Make A Daily Schedule: Each day when you sit down to study, check your monthly or weekly assignment calendar and make a list of all the things you need to do that day. Sometimes it’s helpful to do one of the simplest tasks first, so you can feel like you’re making progress when you cross it off the list.
  4. Take Breaks: It might seem like the opposite of being productive, but sometimes taking breaks makes you MORE productive! Set a timer for a half an hour. Work hard in that half hour. When the timer goes off, give yourself five minutes to get up and stretch, check your texts, pet the dog, whatever. Then get back to work for another half hour.

Now, the best study skills in the world won’t help if you can’t figure out the material. Here are a few things you could do in that situation:

  • Call A Friend: Talk to someone else in the class. Maybe they can talk you through it, or maybe you can meet early at school and they can help you out.
  • Go To A Tutoring Center: If your school doesn’t offer free tutoring, your public library might.
  • Ask Your Teacher: If you’re really having trouble understanding a concept, ask your teacher. Hey, that’s what they’re there for. I know it can be intimidating, but they’ll appreciate you making the extra effort.
  • Talk to your parents: See if they can help you figure this whole thing out. And if they can’t, maybe they could help you find a private tutor. But if not, maybe that means talking to your teacher about other tutoring resources. It might feel like most of the studying pressure is on you, but your parents should still be your partners in helping you get the best education you can.

I hope this is helpful. It’s great that you’re reaching out for support. Keep asking until you find someone who can help you. Don’t give up!

Readers, who do you turn to for homework help? How do you stay organized? Tell us in the comments!
October 11, 2017

I’M NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING!!!

Hey Nikki,

I’m not good at anything! (Except studying, but anyone can be good at that.) I’ve tried a lot of different things, from art to football. How can I find my inner talent??

Talentless

Hi Talentless,

Okay, first of all, you’re NOT talentless. You’ve GOT to be good at SOMETHING, and that’s exactly what I’ll help you figure out! 🙂

Take studying, for instance. If you think that everyone is good at studying, then guess what?? VERY FEW people are!! I get tons of letters from people asking for help figuring out how to focus and study because they’re too distracted by the internet/texts/etc to get their work done. Knowing how to study well is a real skill, and a super important one!

Maybe being good at studying doesn’t seem very exciting. It’s not quite like being the star quarterback or leading role in the school play. People don’t give you a standing ovation when you ace the math quiz.

But that SO doesn’t mean it’s not important or useful!

The other thing is, I think TV and movies give us this idea that everyone has this one shining thing they’re super good at or super into. But that’s…well, not really true! I mean, think about your friends. Sure, maybe there’s that one who spends every weekend away at horseback riding competitions, but mostly, people are probably into a variety of different things. Because really, people our age are still figuring out what they’re into. I know I am!

There’s also this idea that it’s not enough to simply enjoy doing something – you have to be the absolute best, gold medal winner, headed for the big leagues for it to be worth doing.

But, that’s TOTALLY not true either! AND when we try something out for the very first time, we obviously may not be great at it because talent doesn’t equal instant success. Even the most talented gymnast didn’t just step out onto a mat for the first time and do a perfect score floor routine!

So, the more important thing is probably to focus on finding something you really ENJOY doing. Not something you seem immediately GOOD at.

Be open to stuff that might surprise you! Talk to your friends and family about what they enjoy doing outside of school. Ask if you can go support them at their piano recital/soccer game/dance competition. Even if you don’t find a new interest, your friend will feel supported. (And hey, maybe one of the things you’re really good at is being a good friend. Which, like studying, might not get you a standing ovation but is super, super important and will help you be an awesome person!)

In fact, here are some other things that won’t get you a medal or applause, but ARE important and valuable talents:

  • being a good listener
  • being organized
  • being a creative thinker
  • being sensitive to others’ feelings
  • discipline/dedication/willingness to work hard
  • having initiative – not waiting to be told to do something
  • being observant
  • debating important issues thoughtfully
  • a sense of humor
  • being compassionate
  • being good with younger kids
  • being good with animals
  • being good with budgeting/money

And there are tons more!

Friends, tell us in the comments what some of your talents are! They can be the sort of talents you might get prizes for, or things like the list above. What are you good at? Did you have to work hard to get good at your talent?
October 9, 2017

THE TRUE MEANING OF “COOL”

Dork Diaries what makes a person coolOkay. So, remember when I first started going to WCD and wanted to fit in with the CCPs (a.k.a. Cute, Cool and Popular kids)? And, for a split second, MacKenzie actually BRAINWASHED me into wishing I was invited to her birthday party?

Well, MacKenzie has made my life a total NIGHTMARE since then! And, what she and Jessica just did to my poor friend Marcy has reminded me why I’m SO OVER trying to fit in with them, and that I’ll never, EVER let MacKenzie brainwash me again!! 🙁

Marcy and I were hanging out at The Cupcakery munching on yummy cupcakes and minding our own business when MacKenzie and Jessica came up to our table.

MacKenzie grimaced at us like she just caught us eating cupcake crumbs off the floor or something. Then she pointed to Marcy and bellowed, “Eeewwww! Jessica, do you see what Marcy’s wearing? It looks like she just went dumpster diving for a new wardrobe!”

Jessica cackled and nodded in agreement. “Yeah, how pathetic! Summer’s over, but she’s still a HOT MESS!”

Marcy blushed and looked down at the floor, visibly hurt and embarrassed. I was SO ANGRY at MacKenzie and Jessica for picking on her like that! I wanted to take my Cute Confetti Cupcake with sprinkles, smear it all over their designer clothes, and then dump my bottled water on them to see if they’d melt like the Wicked Witch did from The Wizard Of Oz!!

But, I didn’t want to stoop to their level. So I just rolled my eyes and jokingly told Marcy, “It looks like somebody left the door open long enough for flies to come in. And like, here are two really BIG ones with hair extensions and lip gloss!”

MacKenzie flipped her hair. “OMG Jess! Dorks are highly contagious, so let’s grab our cupcakes and go before we both come down with a bad case of LAME!”

That’s when MacKenzie and Jessica both turned up their noses and quickly sashayed away. I just HATE IT when MacKenzie sashays!

Marcy let out a big sigh and glumly poked her half-eaten cupcake with a fork. Apparently, she was still pretty upset.

I placed my hand on her shoulder. “Hey Marcy, are you okay?”

“Um, yeah. Thanks!” She looked at me with a weak smile. But then a blank, sullen stare washed over her face. “It’s just that I’m so tired of being picked on by MacKenzie and Jessica that I sometimes wish I could be cool. That way, they wouldn’t pick on me so much.”

I could kind of see where she was coming from, because I had been there myself. But STILL! I wasn’t about to let Marcy believe she wasn’t cool enough already to deserve some respect.

Girlfriend needed a serious pep talk about the real definition of “cool!”

So, to cheer her up and convince her of how cool she really was, I listed some things that would make Marcy, or anybody else, super cool to me. And when I read the list to her, it really cheered her up and put things into perspective! Being cool isn’t all just about a trendy outfit, having all of the latest stuff, or fitting in with the CCPs. It’s much more than that!

Would you like to hear the list, too? All right, here it goes…!

NIKKI’S OFFICIAL LIST OF WHAT MAKES SOMEBODY “COOL:”

  1. KINDNESS—Let’s face it, people. The world’s a lot more tolerable when you know how to treat people NICELY! Marcy’s a really kind, sweet friend, and that makes her COOL!
  2. HONESTY—It’s hard to find a person that you can actually TRUST. So, if you’re an honest person like Marcy, then that makes you COOL!
  3. CHEERFULNESS—Whenever I see Marcy, she has a smile on her face, and it makes me happy too! Making other people happy because you’re happy is like a super power, and that’s SUPER COOL!
  4. FRIENDLINESS—I’m always amazed at how friendly Marcy is to pretty much everybody, regardless of who they are or how they look. It’s a lot easier to make friends that way, and that’s SO COOL!
  5. GLASSES—Marcy wears glasses, and I think glasses make people look smart! They’re also a cute fashion accessory! And if you don’t wear them, that’s cool. But if you do, then that’s COOL TOO!
  6. BRACES—Marcy knows how to rock her braces with confidence. They’ll also give her super cute, straight teeth! Like, how COOL is that?!
  7. CUPCAKE LOVE, NOT CUPCAKE HATE—Do you hear that MacKenzie and Jessica?! That officially makes the both of you UNCOOL!
Hey readers, what are things that really make someone cool to you?
List them in the comments!

MY CLASSMATES ARE HATIN’ BECAUSE I GET GOOD GRADES!

Hey Brandon,
Math is my FAVORITE subject. But just because I was the ONLY one who got an A+ on a math test, everyone in my class now HATE MY GUTS! I wasn’t trying to make them jealous! The problem is that my friends aren’t in my math class and it STINKS. Once, my teacher put us in teams for a competition. I expected my classmates to be happy that I could help them out. But boy, was I wrong! 🙁 They all ignored me like I wasn’t on their team. They also kept whispering and rudely GLARING at me! Please help!!

Mad Math Skillz

Hey Mad Math Skillz,

I’m so sorry you’re struggling in math class. I mean, not struggling to keep up – it sounds like you really do have “mad math skills,” and that’s great! But, it also sounds like your classmates are really bringing you down, and that’s not so great.

It’s SUPER hard to be that one kid in class who got a good grade on something because you can’t change how other people feel about that. And you DEFINITELY shouldn’t do less than your best on a test, just to keep classmates from getting mad at you. Those classmates are acting super insecure and immature, and they’re taking it out on you when they should be complimenting those mad math skills of yours.

So, about your test results. Let’s face it—there will probably be more tests that you’ll ace while others struggle. One thing you could try is to be humble about your score. HOPEFULLY the teacher didn’t single you out in front of the class and tell everyone how great you did. If your teacher did do that, it would be totally legit to talk to the teacher after class and thank him or her for their encouragement, then request in the future that your score not be announced to the class, because it puts you in an awkward situation with your classmates.

So if the teacher keeps quiet and YOU keep quiet, the only way people should notice your score is if they ask you directly about it. And if they do…well, be honest. It would be really unfair for someone to go out of their way to ask you and then get all mad about it. If they do, that’s on them. You can’t control their reaction. And, as Nikki would say, they should “cry themselves a river, build a bridge, and GET OVER IT.”

While it’s great to be humble and all, I also think you shouldn’t have to hide your success. You should be proud of yourself! But since you’re especially worried about your classmates’ reactions in this class, keeping your scores to yourself is probably the best way to go. As soon as you see your friends, you can celebrate with them.

As for the whole team thing…I kind of wonder if you EXPECTING them to appreciate your help annoys your teammates even more. You know, since they already can’t take how good you are at math in the first place. But, I’m sure you don’t mean to annoy them. You love math, you want to win, and you want to help! But I think you need to approach that kind of situation not as “helping them out” but “working with your teammates.” Don’t assume you have all the answers. Give others a chance to contribute. In this case, I think it’s more important to be considerate of other people’s feelings than to make sure your team wins.

Hopefully, next semester you’ll have some friends in your math class. But until then, celebrate your awesomeness with those friends, keep your head up, and keep up the great work in math!

Readers, how do you handle it when you’re the best at something? Do people get mad at you for your success? Tell us in the comments.
October 4, 2017

I’M MISERABLE AT MY NEW SCHOOL!!

Dork Diaries - Ask Nikki -friendly but friendless

Dear Miss-Know-it-all,

I was a normal girl living a happy life, until l transferred to a new school. Even though this school is known for being way better than my old one, l can’t stand it! I’m lonely and don’t have any friends. For a while, a boy sitting next to me in class started talking to me and we became good friends. But a few weeks later, he made new ones, and it’s like he’s forgotten all about me! What can I do to develop brand new, lasting friendships at this brand new school?

Friendly But Friendless

Dear Friendly But Friendless,

Yikes, I’m so sorry you’re going through this! Being at a brand new school is SO HARD. I totally know how you feel. When I started going to Westchester Country Day, I thought I’d NEVER have a single friend. Sure, it was a better school than the one I went to before. But who cares about, like, newer textbooks and better cafeteria food when you feel like an outcast?!

I don’t know whether math class guy was a real friend or not. Maybe he was being friendly, but not as into being BFFs as you were. Who knows? But either way, it doesn’t sound like he’s very reliable.

I know it’s hard to believe, but it won’t be like this forever. Your Chloe and Zoey ARE out there. You just haven’t connected with them yet! Here are a few ideas for how to find them:

  1. Join clubs/activities/committees: Wherever you see an opportunity to be involved in school activities, take it! Make sure that it’s something you’re genuinely interested in. I mean, don’t join the soccer team if you hate sports! But if you like singing and there’s a school choir, jump in! I volunteer at the library and work on the school paper. These activities give me a chance to hang out with other kids who have similar interests. Unlike in class, we have plenty of time to hang out!
  2. Do non-school activities: It’s also helpful to do things outside of school like Girl Scouts, community theater, or religious youth groups. Sure, you’ll be getting to know kids who don’t go to your school, but if the activity is in the same area, you’re likely to also meet kids from your school. And like the first idea I mentioned, you’ll be meeting kids that have something in common with you. And when you have something in common, you’ve automatically got something to talk about!
  3. Befriend others: One of my favorite tips for when I’m in a new situation or feeling like an outcast is to look for someone who seems even more uncomfortable than I am. Chances are good there’s someone who’s newer than you are, or more awkward, or just more shy. And that person will probably be THRILLED if you go up to them and strike up a conversation. Then you both have someone to talk to! Win-win! And you never know…they might just be your personal Chloe/Zoey.

I hope these ideas are helpful! The main thing is not to lose hope. Connecting with your people can take a while. But when you do, the wait will be worth it! 🙂

Readers, what are your favorite tips for making friends in a new situation? Tell us in the comments!
October 2, 2017

BALL PIT BONANZA!

dork diaries-BALL PIT BONANZA!OMG! Some little kids are the WORST!!

My mom dropped Brianna and me off at Kandy Kingdom in the mall while she went to get her drivers license renewed (BTW, if you’ve already read my 6th diary, you know that Kandy Kingdom is this huge play land with an endless ball pit and lots of crazy little kids running around).

My plan was to watch Brianna play while I wrote in my diary. It was a good plan! She’d have some fun at Kandy Kingdom, and I could FINALLY spend some time alone with my diary. Everybody wins! (Except my mom, I guess, because she makes the Department of Licensing sound like TORTURE.)

The thing was, when Brianna got to Kandy Kingdom, there was nobody else there. If you ask me, that’s heaven! I mean, the WHOLE play land to yourself?! But, apparently the little brat decided that it was too scary or something.

“Come in with meeeeee,” she whined. “It’s creepy all alone!!!”
And okay, I could see that. Kandy Kingdom is pretty big, and just not the same without a bunch of nosy kids knocking each other over to get in.

So, I brought my diary over and sat down on a giant, plastic gumdrop in the ball pit. Since it was just Brianna, I could still write in my diary, right?

WRONG!! 🙁

Brianna started throwing balls from the ball pit. AT ME! At first I tried to toss them back and ignore her, but have YOU ever tried writing about your crush while little plastic balls bounce off your head???

I didn’t PLAN to jump in the ball pit. But there was this sign that said BALL PIT ONLY FOR AGES 4-10, and it was bugging me! Because why should being fourteen mean that I have to miss out on all the fun?! And WHY can’t I enjoy the fun of an almost empty ball pit?!!

So, I dived in.

And okay, I KNOW ball pits are total germ factories, but isn’t everything? If you ever have a chance to jump into an empty ball pit, I highly recommend it! 🙂

For five minutes, Brianna and I had an amazing time splashing around and tossing balls at each other.

But suddenly, and a FLOOD of little kids came running towards Kandy Kingdom. They were all around Brianna’s age, and there were like forty-seven of them!

Okay, more like eight or nine of them. But they were EVERYWHERE. And it was like they were totally hyped up on a bazillion juice boxes and triple ice cream sundaes! Then they ALL jumped straight in the ball pit!!

Brianna immediately joined whatever crazy freeze tag-dodgeball-duck duck goose combo game they were playing and I tried wading through the sea of balls and kids to GET OUT.

I was just pulling myself out when I heard my phone. It’s a MIRACLE I even heard it with all of the screaming and giggling! I checked the pocket where I kept my phone. But it wasn’t there! I checked my other pockets. I scrambled over to the gumdrop where I was writing in my diary. No phone!!

But it was still ringing!!

That’s when I realized…my phone must have fallen out of my pocket…and into the ball pit!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! 🙁

“My phone!” I shouted to Brianna. “My phone is somewhere in the ball pit!”

She did NOT look interested in helping me find my phone. I had to make it a game to entice her. So I said, “Let’s see how fast you can find my phone! And you’ll WIN A PRIZE!”

Brianna’s so easy sometimes. I could get her an orange soda for a prize and she’d be happy. So she started looking.

In less than a minute, a voice said, “Found it!”

Only the voice wasn’t Brianna! It was some other kid!!

Brianna went back to playing with the other kids as I knelt down towards the little girl that found my phone.

“Oh my gosh, thank you SO much for finding my phone!” I held out my hand.

But the girl ran away from me and stuck her tongue out. “It’s MY phone,” she said. “I won the game, so I get the prize!”

NO. FREAKING. WAY.

“Um, NOPE. That’s my phone, sweetie.” I tried to be nice. I really did. But this girl was big enough to know I wasn’t giving away MY phone as the grand prize!!

“You said I’d win a prize!” she quipped.

“Um…”

I looked around. What could I offer her?

“Do you want an orange soda? A milkshake? An ice cream sundae?”
She laughed. That girl actually LAUGHED at me!!!

“I want THAT,” she said, pointing at me.

It took me a second to realize what she meant. I was wearing this super blingy bracelet with all these fake jewels. Chloe actually gave it to me as a joke last Christmas, but now because we think it’s funny, I wear it sometimes.

“My bracelet? Oh…gosh…it means a lot to me!” I pretended to act like I couldn’t give it up. I’ve been around the block with six-year-olds. I knew if I made it seem valuable, she’d want it even more.

Sure enough, she came right over to me and held out the phone. “Gimme the bracelet,” she said. “I won it, fair and square!”

Well…not exactly, kid. I made a big show of sadly taking it off and trading her for my phone.

Thank goodness I have my phone back!! If there’s anything I can’t survive without besides my diary, it’s my PHONE.

Hey readers, what’s the most important thing you ever lost? Did you or somebody else ever find it?
September 30, 2017

AM I GOOD LOOKING?

dork diaries - Ask brandon_attractive guys

Whassup Brandon,

I know that this might sound like a really strange question, but…am I good looking? My buddy always raves about being better looking than I am and making all the girls swoon over him. And lately, I’ve been wanting to impress this girl, but I’m not really sure if I’ve got it going on in the looks department. Could you please answer my question so I won’t be confused about this?

Am I A Good Looking Guy

Hey Am I A Good Looking Guy,

Dude, I’ll be honest with you—what’s attractive to one person may not be as attractive to another.

Good looks are such a weird thing! Like, who decides what’s attractive? And maybe you can just point at a screen with photos on it and say he looks good or he doesn’t. But when you’re talking about people you know in real life, usually their whole personality has a part in deciding whether or not you think they’re good looking. The guy or girl who’s confident and charming seems better looking than the one who’s rude or insecure.

So, are you good looking? I’m guessing that you are, but the truth is, I have no idea. I DO know you’ll seem more attractive with self-confidence. And, anybody could use a boost in self-confidence, so I’ll do what I can to encourage you. Just be cool, be yourself, and be friendly to that girl you want to impress. If she’s awesome and nice like you, then you’ll definitely impress her!

And, focus on your connection with her—and anyone else you’re trying to be friends with, for that matter. Good looks might be the first spark of attraction, but people hang around and develop friendships because of things they have in common and because they enjoy each other’s personality, conversation and general awesomeness. If you’ve got those things going for you, it really doesn’t matter if you’re a complete troll in the appearance department (which I’m sure you’re not).

But also, don’t go overboard with the self-confidence. Your “buddy” who raves about being better looking than you are and making a bunch of girls swoon over him…well, he sounds pretty arrogant, and that’s not very attractive. It’s one thing to be self-confident and another to be a total egotist. Building other people up is way more attractive than bringing them down so that you feel bigger and better than they do.

So, my point is, don’t worry too much about your looks. Focus on getting to know people, connecting with them and learning about their interests, and you’ll be way more well-liked than some cardboard-cutout magazine cover-worthy dude.

Girls, would you please tell us in the comments what makes a guy cute to you?