Dear American Girl,

I'm so nervous about going to middle school! On my first day, I picture myself not knowing how to open my locker, getting lost, and not having anybody to sit with at lunch. I'm dreading it. Does anybody have any tips on how I can survive the first day of middle school—and the rest of the year, too?
-Middle-School Jitters

Here's your advice:

I started middle school last year. Remember that you can always ask the teachers questions—that's what they're there for. Ask a teacher how to get to your next class or how to open your locker. I'm sure he or she will be happy to help.
-Priya, age 11, Massachusetts

A lot of people are nervous when they start middle school. Ask your parents or older siblings how they felt when they started middle school. Their stories might help you feel better.
-Daniella, age 9, New York

My friend and I are both scared about starting middle school, so we've decided to stick together on the first day. We're going to ride the bus and eat lunch together. Try to use the "buddy system" on your first day, and maybe you won't feel so overwhelmed.
-Kelly, age 11, New Jersey

Walk into school with your head high, a smile on your face, and your shoulders back. Even if you're feeling shaky inside, you'll look confident, and that might help you to actually feel confident.
-Erin, age 13, Illinois

Think of it this way—in elementary school, there were a lot of kids, and in middle school, there will probably be even more kids. That increases your odds of finding someone nice to sit with at lunch!
-Caroline, age 10, Georgia

Sometimes schools have orientations before the first day of school. Ask a parent to find out if you can go to an open house together before school starts. It might help you to walk around the school and get an idea of where everything is.
-Ally, age 12, Alabama

My advice for you is simple—be yourself! Making friends can be hard, but it'll be a lot easier when they like you for yourself.
-Kerstin, age 10, Illinois

On my first day of middle school, I couldn't open my locker, and was late to a couple of classes. But so was everyone else. My advice is to relax, because all the new students will be just as nervous as you are and will make the same mistakes.
-Katie, age 13, South Carolina

Before you start school, write all your worries on a piece of paper. Then crumple up the paper and throw all your worries away! Doing that might help you release a little tension.
-Ellie, age 12, Alaska

Introduce yourself to the kids who have lockers next to yours. You'll have to see them every day, so you might as well get off on the right foot. When you have time in between classes, say, "Hi! What's your name?" Your locker neighbors might be experiencing the same jitters you're having about middle school, too.
-Alix, age 10, Connecticut

Last year before school, I borrowed a combination lock from my grandpa and practiced opening it for a few days. I became so good at it that I was the first person out of my friends to open her locker. See if you can practice on a lock before heading back to school.
-Amy, age 12, Oklahoma

Put together a shoebox of memories from elementary school. Include yearbooks, notes from friends, and fun photos. When you start to feel nervous about middle school, look at the things in your box and say to yourself, Middle school is a chance for me to make even more great memories.
-Gina, age 9, Ohio

To remember your locker combination, make up a little song or poem using the numbers. Don't write your combo down on a piece of paper. If you were to lose it, it could fall into the wrong hands. Also, you won't want to have to look at a piece of paper every time you need to open your locker.
-Elizabeth, age 12, Wisconsin

Carry a notebook with you and write down hints to help yourself remember things, such as, "My science classroom is next to the gym," or "My math teacher's name is ____."
-Isabelle, age 10, Iowa

Do you have any friends who share the same worries about middle school? Talk things out with them. You might feel a lot better if you realize that other girls are just as stressed as you are.
-Michal, age 12, New York

At lunch, search for one familiar face. It could be someone from your neighborhood, homeroom, or dance class. Walk up to the table and, with a bright smile, say, "Hi! Is this seat taken?" It might be hard at first, but with kind words and a positive attitude, you might start up a friendship on your first day of school.
-Julia, age 13, New Jersey

Instead of imagining that everything will go wrong, try to picture the best first day of school possible. For example, you walk into school, smile at people in the hallway, open your locker on the first try, and then find your room for your first class. If you picture yourself as a carefree, confident girl, your day might go a lot better in real life, too.
-Sarah, age 11, Indiana

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