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July 19, 2018

MY HORRORIFIC HAIRCUT!!!!!

Hey Nikki! So, I have a MAJOR PROBLEM! I went to a salon and asked for a shoulder length haircut. And the lady cut my hair up to my ears! I look HIDEOUS! 🙁

When school starts in the fall, I’m afraid everyone will make fun of me. What should I do???

Horrified By Hideous Haircut

Hi Horrified By Hideous Haircut,

Oh no!!!! Hair emergency!!! 🙁  

This is the worst nightmare EVER! A haircut can TOTALLY give us major confidence or TOTALLY destroy all confidence we ever had. I’ve BEEN THERE.

So from experience I can tell you, as hard as it is, try not to freak out too much. It’s not what you wanted, and that’s super disappointing. But that doesn’t mean it’s awful. I promise!!!

For one thing, at least it’ll grow back. Right??

You might just need to get used to it, and learn how to style it (especially if you’ve never had short hair). I DEFINITELY don’t think kids at school will make fun of you. Short hair can be SUPER cute, and the main thing with any hairstyle (or fashion style or makeup style) is to rock it with confidence.

If you hate it, people will be able to tell. Mean kids sense weakness and poke fun into those places. But if you figure out how to love it and rock it, people will see you as that girl who had the confidence to go for a bold new look!

So, play around with how to style it. If you hate a cut, a salon will often offer a recut or a refund. You might not want to work with this stylist again. But you could maybe ask the salon if a different stylist would show you how to style this new cut. Or if you just don’t want to step foot in a salon again, look on YouTube for short hair styling tutorials.

And, like I said, the other thing to remember about a haircut you hate is that hair grows!!! I know, not as quickly as you’d like, but the thing is to remember that it’s not permanent. It’ll be back to your usual length before you know it. But until then, your task is to rock it with confidence!

Who knows, you might end up loving it so much, you’ll keep it short! You never know! 🙂

Have you ever gotten a haircut you HATED? How did you deal?! Tell us in the comments.
July 16, 2018

FINISH THE STORY

Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse, IT DID! I COULD NOT believe what was happening to me.

I felt SO frustrated that I went straight to the girls bathroom and screamed my head off! Thank goodness my two BFFs, Zoey and Chloe, came rushing into the bathroom.

“Nikki, is that you?! We could hear you screaming in the hallway!” Chloe exclaimed.

Yeah! Are you okay?!” Zoey asked.

“Chloe and Zoey, you’re both gonna flip out too when I tell you that…!”

Okay, readers! Now is your chance to finish the story! What was I so upset about? Please post your story in the comments section.

July 15, 2018

MY BFF’S CRUSH IS INTO ME!!!!

Brandon, I feel SUPER guilty about this. This guy in my class likes me, and my BFF has a HOPELESS crush on him!! On the last day of school, we were cleaning up the classroom, and he wanted to be my helper. But, then my friend got SUPER mad and didn’t talk to me, but I don’t even like him back!! She’s not replying to my texts, and I’m TOTALLY FREAKING OUT! What do I do??

Frantic Friend

Hey Frantic Friend,

This is a tough situation. But let’s get one thing straight. YOU didn’t do anything wrong. You’re obviously a very good friend and you care about how your BFF feels, which is cool. But you shouldn’t feel GUILTY. Because “feeling guilty” sounds like YOU did something wrong and you didn’t. It’s not your fault this boy likes you. And it’s not like he asked you to a dance and you said yes. You didn’t betray your friend by letting this boy help you clean the classroom.

As long as we’ve got that straight…whether it’s reasonable or not, the fact is, your BFF is still really mad. Or hurt. Or jealous. Whatever it is, she’s taking it all out on you. I’m sure when she’s feeling more reasonable, she’ll be able to see you didn’t do anything wrong. But in the heat of the moment, she felt awful and you were her target. Because who else was she going to blame? Not the guy. (Who also didn’t really do anything wrong – it’s not his fault he’s crushing on you and not her. And honestly—speaking as a guy—he’s probably 100% oblivious to how she feels, because she never told him she likes him.)

I’m not sure what she thinks you should have done differently. Refused his help? But like, what reason were you supposed to give him? She wouldn’t have wanted you to say, “You can’t help me because my BFF likes you and she’s my BFF.” That would have been a LOT worse than just letting him help you. It’s not like you were flirting with him.

Unless you were flirting with him? Like, for example, staring at and gushing over him. You might think back on whether there’s any way she could have interpreted it as you flirting with him. And if there is, then you might have a small something to apologize for.

Hopefully she just needs time to cool off. If you’ve already tried texting and she’s not responding, it might be time to step back and give her a little space. Maybe send one more texts letting her know you’re there for her and you want to talk whenever she’s ready but you’re going to give her some space. And then stop texting, calling or checking in.

When she’s finally ready to talk, you don’t want to apologize, because that’ll make it seem like you did something wrong. But you can make SURE she knows that you don’t like her crush, and you’ve never encouraged him to like you. You could ask her how she would have liked you to deal with the situation differently, so you’ll know what to do if something happens in the future. Or if she wants you to do something really unreasonable that will hurt the guy’s feelings, maybe gently point that out. If she likes him, she shouldn’t want his feelings to be hurt.

The thing is, your BFF is forever. (Literally. That’s what BFF means—best friend forever.) Crushes will come and go, even though when they’re happening they feel like the center of your world. It might take some work to get through this, but a crush is never worth breaking up your friendship. It’s worth doing the work to make sure it doesn’t.

How do you guys handle it when crushes come between friends? Have you ever crushed on someone who was crushing on your BFF?
July 12, 2018

I WANT TO READ YOUR BOOKS BUT CAN’T AFFORD THEM

Hi Nikki!

I LOVE to read your books. Since we don’t have much money, my mom said that I had to get them from the library. But, the library did not have all of them there. My school library had more, but they did not have Tales From a Not-So-Happy Birthday, plus my mom and dad do not like to spend money. What should I do?!?!

Bookish & Broke

Hi Bookish & Broke,

Okay, well first of all, I’m SUPER glad you’re excited about Tales From a Not-So-Happy Birthday! But it doesn’t release until August 21st, so that’s why you wouldn’t be able to find it in libraries or bookstores.

But as for the other books, I wanted to answer your question, because there are a couple COOL TRICKS about using a library that it seems like a lot of people don’t know. And I want ALLLL my fellow book-lovers to know, because everyone should have access to the books they want to read, no matter how much money they have!!!

So first, just because you don’t find a book on the shelf at your public library doesn’t mean they don’t have it! There’s a good chance it means someone else has checked it out. But that’s when you do this thing called PLACING A HOLD. It’s so cool. You can place a hold in person and, depending on the library, online. But either way, you can ask a librarian to show you how the first time.

When you place a hold, it’s like saving a spot in line. So if no one has placed a hold in front of you, your hold means that when the book gets returned to the library, it will then be held for YOU. Usually you sign up to get an email or a text letting you know that the book is ready for you, and most libraries give you a certain amount of time—mine is four days—to come in and pick it up. Sometimes, with a really popular book, there might be a few people who’ve placed holds before you, so the wait is a little longer. But still, by placing the hold, you’re saving your spot as next in line.

If your library’s branch DOESN’T own a copy of a book you want, they’ll usually borrow it from one of the other branches near them and then loan it to you. But if the whole library system doesn’t own a copy of the book you want, you can request they purchase it! Libraries WANT to know what books their readers want to read.

So again, this is something you can do on most library systems’ websites. But if not, go in and talk to a librarian. Ask them how to “REQUEST A PURCHASE.” They’ll know what you mean. I couldn’t believe it the first time someone told me I could do this. I can just say, “I want you to buy this book,” and they’ll be like, “Okay,” and then they’ll actually BUY it for me!! And then I’m the first person who gets to check it out in the whole library system!!!

Also remember that sometimes you can find books you want in other formats. If you have access to a tablet, computer, or e-reader, you can access books in digital format. There are also audiobooks (though with MY books you’d miss out on the drawings, which I happen to think are half the fun!!! 🙂 ) and large-print format books.

Finally, everything above applies to public library systems. School libraries all work differently. BUT the one thing that’s the same is that school librarians and public librarians ALL want to help kids read the books they’re excited about! So if you can’t find a book you want in your school library, talk to the librarian. If they say they don’t have it, ask them if there’s a way the library could get it. They might say no—school libraries often don’t have enough money for everything they’d like to do. But maybe you could brainstorm with the librarian on ways to raise money for the library. And when the library DOES get funds for new books, the librarian is going to remember the kid who came to and asked them about a book they were super excited about.

I hope this helps you understand new ways you can use your public library system and read the books you most want to read!

Libraries are full of so many cool things! In our comments section, please tell me the top three books you’d love to check out at your local library! Also, do you visit your local library regularly?
July 9, 2018

QUIRKY QUESTION OF THE WEEK

One of my FAV things to do in the summer is visit amusement parks!

Do you like amusement parks, and have you visited any recently? Which one? Tell us about it! Also, which ride could you do ALL DAY, and what was the SCARIEST ride ever?

July 8, 2018

HELP! HOW DO I HELP SOMEONE BEING BULLIED?!

Dear Brandon,

There’s a girl at my school who’s Muslim and wears a hijab (like a head scarf). Other kids think it’s funny, so they tease her and try to snatch it off her head. Not only is it just plain rude, but she keeps it on for religious reasons. I want to help her, but what should I do?

Battling Bullies

Hey Battling Bullies,

Okay. To help me answer this question, I talked to this lady named Aafiyah, an awesome photographer who teaches photography workshops at the community center. She wears a hijab, and she talked to me a little bit about what it means, how she’d feel in this situation, and how a non-Muslim should respond.

So like you said, Muslim women wear the hijab for religious and cultural reasons. Their scriptures and ancient texts instruct women to cover their heads when they are around men who are not family members. So basically, any time they are out in public. Just like there are different sorts of Christians, there are different sorts of Muslims, and how they interpret these scriptures can vary. So some might wear a scarf that loosely covers their head, but wear modern clothes. Some wear a turban. Some cover almost everything except their eyes. (And some don’t wear a hijab at all, but are still Muslims. It’s a personal decision.)

Aafiyah also pointed out that there are some forms of Christianity and Judaism where the women keep their heads covered. I didn’t realize that.

Wearing a hijab doesn’t limit Muslim women in what they can do. Some awesome hijabis include Eqyptian Olympic volleyball players Doaa Elghobashy and Nada Meawad, US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, ballerina Stephanie Kurlow, figure skater Zahra Lahi (who appears in a Nike ad), television news reporter Noor Tagouri, Minnesota state representative Ilhan Omar, Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain, YouTuber and fashion blogger Shahd Batal, NY civil court judge Carolyn Walker Diallo, Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, and YA author Tahereh Mafi.

So what does this have to do with what you asked? Well I figure people have a hard time with stuff they don’t understand. So I thought it might help people to understand a bit about WHY they might see girls at school wearing hijab. (And most start to wear it around when puberty hits, so you might see girls you knew in elementary school start to wear a hijab in middle school.)

You said kids at school are trying to pull off this girl’s hijab. When I talked to Aafiyah about that, she got really upset. She said that isn’t just something kids do—racists will attack grown Muslim women in the same way. And it IS an attack. Kids might act like it’s “funny” but it’s a form of bullying as serious as any other physical attacks. In fact, to a Muslim woman who chooses to wear a hijab, her hair is a private part just like the ones you consider private parts. So yanking off someone’s hijab is like yanking their pants down.

So first, if you have the confidence to speak up and tell them to knock it off, that would be excellent. If you don’t, that’s okay. It’s not always a good idea to confront bullies. But here’s what you could do: When you see kids starting to bug her, ignore them, but approach her and talk to her about something totally everyday. Like, ask if she knows what the English homework is. Or tell her you like her shoes and ask where she got them. The idea is to give her something to talk to you about that’s totally boring but shows the bullies she’s not alone and therefore not such an easy target. Hopefully you guys can just walk away from the bullies together before things get bad.

And then you should tell a teacher, if she is comfortable with that. Like I said, pulling a hijab is a form of bullying, and most schools have anti-bullying policies, so they should treat it that way.
As for what you should tell HER, which is what you asked, Aafiyah says the main thing is letting her know you support her and you’re sorry this is happening, and you want to be her friend, not because you feel sorry for her, but because she’s an interesting, good person, and because the way people are treating her is not cool. And then ask her if there’s anything she needs from you.

I think it’s great that you’re noticing this as a problem. Now I want to encourage you to go a step further and try to help the other kids at your school realize this is NOT okay, AND help this girl know she is not alone.

Have you ever stood up for someone who’s being bullied? How did it go? Is there anything you would do differently? Or if you’ve been bullied, what do you wish bystanders would do to help? Tell us in the comments!
July 5, 2018

HOW DO I LEARN TO LOVE MY BODY???

Hey Nikki,
I’m someone who struggles with how they look. I never feel confident about myself and always think I look the worst with groups of friends. I don’t know how to accept myself and to love who I am. Any advice? 🙁

How Do I Love The Skin I’m In

Hi How Do I Love The Skin I’m In,

Well first of all, welcome to the club! I think this is such a normal struggle. Which is a bummer—I wish there weren’t so many teens and tweens constantly down on themselves about their appearance. But there’s something comforting about knowing you’re not alone, I think. At least there is for me.

And sometimes it helps to remember that other people are probably way too busy worrying about their own looks to be judging you for yours.

But you asked how to accept yourself and love your body, and I think that’s the most awesome! Because instead of accepting that everyone feels insecure sometimes, the BEST thing would be to feel awesome about yourself!

So I’m no expert – I have plenty of days where I get up and look in the mirror and groan. But! There are also some tricks I’ve found and things I’m still working on! And maybe others can give us some ideas in the comments!

Here are my ideas:

  1. Focus on what your body can DO. Think about it: your body allows you to move through the world! If you play a sport or play a musical instrument or do some kind of performance art, you use your body! When you speak, run, eat, watch movies, text your friends—all of that is happening because your body is one AWESOME machine!
  2. Set a physical goal. When thinking about what your body can DO, make a goal for something you want to train for. Running a 5K, doing 100 push-ups, choreographing a dance to your favorite song. When you see what your body can achieve, it’s hard to be mad at it! (And this isn’t about changing the shape of your body through exercise—it’s about celebrating the cool thing your body can DO.)
  3. Focus on what you like about your appearance. There’s got to be something! Maybe you like your hair, your smile, or your nails. Whatever it is, focus on that when you’re feeling down. And maybe take some special care of it – spend some extra time on a cool hairdo, or paint your nails, etc.
  4. Wear clothes that make you feel confident. No matter what your face or body look like, and no matter how much money you have, everyone should have an outfit, or a particular accessory they just LOVE. It might be a hoodie from Goodwill, or a pair of perfectly worn-in jeans. Whatever it is, pull it out when you need an extra boost of confidence.
  5. Give yourself props for inner beauty. I know this sounds kind of cheesy, but beauty isn’t all about cheekbones and hair extensions, right? I mean, I can think of someone who might be considered beautiful by society’s standards, but she is SUPER ugly on the inside. (Her name might rhyme with Lackenzie Mollister.) I’m not saying outward beauty doesn’t matter. Because it does. It’s one of the first things people notice about us. If I ignore that, I’m lying to you. But it is NOT the only thing people notice. And I’m sure there must be things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your appearance. Your intelligence, your creativity, what a good friend/sister/listener you are, etc etc etc. Appearance matters. But these other things matter MORE.
  6. Make peace with what you can’t change. Obsessing about your appearance doesn’t change anything, but it makes you miserable. And the worst is when you obsess over things you have ZERO control over. Like, if you dislike your shoes, you can change them. But if you hate your height? Or the texture of your hair? Or your body type? There’s no way out of that deep, dark hole! So learn to find the beauty in those things. Because your body is going to be your body for the rest of your life. It’ll be much easier for both of you if you’re friends!

I hope that helps! Read through the comments, too, because I bet some of my awesome readers will have more suggestions.

What makes you guys feel confident? Tell me one thing you LOVE about your appearance!
July 3, 2018

SPARE ME THE SPIDERS!!

I’m SOOO over this weekend!!

I know that it’s only Saturday but it seems like today has lasted forever. And I can blame that entirely on Brianna!!

I swear that the little brat can figure out every weakness that I have. And not to sound braggadocious, but I don’t have too many.

But it seems like she just found out about my HATRED of spiders. Well, it’s not that I hate them, I just hate being AROUND them.

And the only reason that she found out was because I freaked out.

Since both of my parents went to run a few errands, I was left to babysit Brianna for a little bit.

But, I quickly became suspicious when I didn’t hear any commotion for a few minutes.

“Brianna, is everything alright?” I asked.

“Yep! I’m just watching Gary and his friends.” She happily replied.

I didn’t really think anything of her response, so I just went back into my room. With all of the new television shows that are out now, I can hardly keep track of them all. So I figured that she was innocently watching cartoons. 

Right???

WRONG!!!

About twenty minutes later, I stepped out of my room to check on her again. But this time she was sitting right outside of my door. I only know because I almost tripped over her as I made my way towards where my family keeps the television.

“Brianna! What are you doing?!”

“I already told you! Watching Gary and his friends.”

At this point I thought about ordering some type of language decoder because this girl was not making ANY sense. In order to watch a TV show, there needs to be a TV!!

But, then she pointed up towards the ceiling.

And there, crawling ever so slowly was a giant SPIDER!!!

EEEEEEKKKK!!!!

But it wasn’t just ONE, there were TEN of them!! 

For some odd reason, it seemed like they were “playing follow the leader” or something. And they were heading directly towards MY ROOM! 🙁

So I quickly shut my door right as they were about to go inside. 

And I don’t know if there was a right or wrong way to handle the situation, but I got LOCKED out of my room!!

Not because my door was locked or anything, but because the spiders seemed to like my door a lot so they just stayed on my door!

So I went to the family room while I waited for my parents to come back home from all of their errands. Luckily I grabbed my diary before I left or else I would be DEVASTATED!! 

I can deal with being locked out of my room, but I definitely CANNOT deal with being without my diary.

So I made Brianna sit where I could see her and where she could watch the spiders. The LAST thing I wanted was for the spiders to spread out and infest the house. 

And then I got comfortable.

But of course Brianna had to disturb my peace!

She walked into the room with her hands behind her back. I was kinda suspicious, but I knew that she couldn’t have done anything too bad since I’ve been watching her out of the corner of my eye.

“Nikki, Miss Penelope made a friend. Do you want to meet her?”

“No.” I mumbled.

And then I continued writing. But obviously Brianna and Miss Penelope wouldn’t take that as an answer.

“This is Miss Penelope’s friend. Her name is Sasha!!”

I looked up, expecting her to hold a stuffed animal or something. 

BUT NO!!

That girl held a SPIDER in her hand!!

The biggest one I had EVER seen and it was just sitting in the palm of her hand!!!

EEEEEEEEKKKK!!!!!

I would’ve freaked out even more had my parents not walked in right that moment! 

And thank goodness my dad is a bug exterminator! He got rid of them very quickly and effortlessly.

I guess that means I’ll have to figure out a way to get rid of Brianna myself!! 🙁

Are you afraid of spiders? What totally creeps YOU out? Dare to share in the comments!
July 1, 2018

July Calendar – Summer Treats

Right click the download button to save the calendar of your choice on your computer.

1 vertical page – 8½ x 11in
Download
June 30, 2018

I MISS MY BFF!!!

Hey Brandon! I used to live in Delaware, but then I moved to Texas. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY miss my BFF. And since we’re so far away, our parents won’t take us to visit each other. I know we can FaceTime, but is that really the same? I’ve made friends here, sure, but there’s no one like her! She’s the only one who really understands me! I can’t count how many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep because I miss her so much. What should I do?! Please help!!!

Faraway Friend

Hey Faraway Friend,

It’s the WORST when we have to move away from friends, or friends move away from us. Your move was a BIG one, but it can even be hard if a friend moves a few towns over. Because at least until we can drive, that pretty much means we’re not going to see them. And when it’s a big distance like yours, you’re not even going to see them on special occasions.

So first, how do you to stay connected when you’re suddenly whole states away from your BFF and you don’t know when you’ll ever see them again???

I’m not going to try to tell you that FaceTime is the same as hanging with your bestie in person. But, it’s still pretty great. Like, imagine fifty years ago. When someone moved away, all they could do was write old-fashioned letters. And then WAAAAIIIIT for them to be delivered, and then WAAAAIIIIT for the friend to write back and mail their letter, and then WAAAAIIIT some more for THAT letter to be delivered.

Don’t get me wrong—letters are awesome—but they never got to see their friend’s face or hear their voice (unless they made an expensive long-distance phone call).
Or a hundred years ago? Or more? Think of all those families who went west in covered wagons like in Little House on the Prairie. When they said good-bye to people, it was basically good-bye forever.

I know “it could be worse” isn’t the greatest argument but…it really could!

So try to be grateful for FaceTime, at least. And texting, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever else you guys like to do.

It’s definitely going to be different from what you had before. That’s just a fact, and a total bummer. But since you can’t change the situation, try to make the best of it. You’ll have to figure out what works for you guys. Maybe that means you set regular times to FaceTime. Or maybe you just do it whenever. Maybe you can come up with fun ways to share the new things in your life with her, like sending her photos of things in your new neighborhood.

And even though it’s not the 1970’s, you can still send regular letters and care packages through the old-fashioned mail. Everyone loves mail, so that could be fun.

The other thing I want to say is that while your BFF will always be your BFF (after all, it does mean Best Friends FOREVER), try to be open to making new friends in Texas. And try not to be jealous if she makes some new friends back in Delaware, or gets closer with some people she wasn’t as close to before.

You both want to be happy, and you want each other to be happy, right? And you CAN be happy with new friends and ALSO stay good friends long distance.

I hope this helps. It will be different, but it WILL be okay. I promise!

How do you handle it when you or a friend moves away? What are your best tips and techniques for long-distance friendship? Tell us in the comments.