Dear American Girl,
I joined a new cheerleading team at school, and I'm just about to start. I'm really nervous because I don't know any of the girls. What if they make fun of me? What if no one likes me? How can I calm my jitters and feel excited about cheerleading?
-Not so cheery
Here's your advice:
Instead of thinking about what these girls might think, try to be the best cheerleader you can be. If the other girls see how excited you are about cheerleading, they might be even more eager to befriend you. After all, those girls are there because they love cheerleading, too.
-Lyric, age 12, Vermont
I tend to worry a lot about things. In situations that make me nervous, I try my best to stay calm and take deep breaths. Push through those jitters and start having fun instead.
-Charis, age 10, West Virginia
Cheerleading is all about spirit. A huge smile may be even more useful than a back handspring!
-Jennie, age 11, New York
Worrying won't help you—in fact, it will probably make you feel worse. Instead, just go with the flow and make the best of being the "new kid" on the team. Remind yourself that this is a great opportunity to make new friends.
-Abby, age 13, Tennessee
Find your inner confidence. Go up to the other girls and introduce yourself. Ask questions such as, "How long have you been on the squad?" or "What is your favorite routine?" It's a great way to spark new friendships. Remember, everyone is new at something at one time or another.
-Maggie, age 11, Canada
Don't let fear stop you from doing something you want to do. Just look around, find someone who seems nice, and talk to her. You could wind up being good friends.
-Alexa, age 10, Michigan
Think positive. Tell yourself, I'm going to make friends, and cheerleading will be a lot of fun. The more you say it, the more you might believe it, and your nervousness might disappear.
-Meghan, age 13, Virginia
A couple of months ago, I joined a cheerleading squad, and I didn't know any girls. I found out that everyone is usually too busy focusing on the routine to have time to say anything unkind. Whatever you do, enjoy cheer!
-An American Girl fan, age 11, Arizona
If you think about it, every girl on your squad probably has been nervous about something, such as being new or learning a hard routine. Feeling nervous is normal. The important thing is to have fun. Just go to practices and be yourself.
-Michaela, age 10, New York
What if the girls don't make fun of you? What if everybody thinks that you are awesome? What if you make new friends and have fun? Instead of picturing what might go wrong, focus on having a great time.
-Kalea, age 11, Minnesota
Don't worry about the girls not liking you—there's bound to be someone on the squad you'll hit it off with. Before you start cheerleading, keep your mind busy. Read a favorite book, hang out with a friend, or make up a silly dance routine.
-Allie, age 9, Texas
Before you start cheerleading, try to connect with a few girls from your team. You could invite someone over to your house or sit with her at lunch. It might help you to know someone before you start.
-Aditi, age 11, New Jersey
You joined the cheerleading team because you enjoy cheerleading, not because of the other girls on the team. Love what you do and have fun, and friendships probably will follow. It doesn't matter what the other girls think if you're doing something you want to do.
-Arielle, age 13, California
You can't control whether these girls will like you or not, but you can control yourself. Do your best at cheerleading, and be friendly to your teammates. You're in control of you!
-Emily, age 14, Delaware
When you walk into your first practice, imagine that you've been on this team for a long time and that it's something you're completely comfortable with. This will give you a boost of self-confidence.
-An American Girl fan, age 11, West Virginia
I didn't know anyone when I started a new dance class. Just like you, I was imagining the worst. At my first class, I just focused on being nice and friendly. I walked in with a smile on my face and made some jokes during breaks with the other girls. Soon we were all laughing and having fun. Chances are, if you are kind to these girls, you won't have a problem making friends.
-Abby, age 10, Kentucky