Maybe you were an honors nerd in high school, or the trampy cheerleader, or that strange girl who always sat alone at lunch. Whatever your rep, starting college in the fall is your chance to reinvent yourself. (Heck, if you had a bad freshman year, you can start fresh this semester, too.) After the jump, ten tips for creating a new and improved you when you head back to school.
- Change your name. No, it’s not like you’re entering the witness protection program. But let’s face it, if you were known as “Easy Ellen” or “Alice McFatty” in high school, even your own name can cause painful flashbacks. If you want to ditch your past, change Ellen to Ellie or use your middle name. With a fresh name, you can make a fresh start.
- Change your hair. Seeing a physically different you in the mirror can give you the boost to change on a deeper level. If you were the sullen girl who hid behind a mop of dark hair, a short blond ‘do can make you feel brighter and more outgoing. Cut your baby-fine hair into a sexy asymmetrical bob to feel more sophisticated. Find something that looks and feels good–if it only takes a few red highlights to make you feel feisty, go for it!
- Alter your tactics. Breaking old patterns can help you move on to a new and better life. If you were painfully shy in the past, make the decision to try chatting with your new classmates. Make it a goal to ask a new friend to lunch by the end of the week. If you always seemed to end up with the wrong guy, hold back on your flirting until you can make more informed choices.
- Pay attention. We’ve all dozed in class, painted our fingernails, and snickered over our lame teachers’ incompetence. The cool thing about college is there’s a greater chance of finding a professor who really knows what she’s talking about. Give her a listen and you might discover a new passion or career path–or at least find out that history’s not so boring after all.
- Get a job. Even if it’s just a few hours a week, a job teaches the new you some responsibility. Try to find something related to your major to build skills and discover if you really enjoy the work. Check out internships in your field, or do volunteer work to broaden your world view.
- Change your style. Once again, work from the outside in. “Easy Ellen” might want to move on from hot pants and tank tops to something more chic or preppy. Art and design students can inspire creativity with a quirky or fashion forward wardrobe, and future lawyers should try out some business casual attire. Choose clothes that make you look good and feel confident–there’s no need for costume-y extremes.
- Try something new. The more you learn about the world, the more you can learn about the person you want to be. College campuses offer a wide variety of activities and events. Go see the one-act student plays, or attend an orchestra concert. Cheer on the football team, then visit the student union to hear a local politician’s speech.
- Be a joiner. There are activist and religious groups, sports teams, volunteer organizations, and clubs for every college major or hobby. You’ll gain knowledge and skills, and the power of a group can help you achieve your goals. College clubs can help wallflowers to make friends, athletes to stay in shape, and future politicians to develop their first contacts.
- Look at people differently. Discard the clique mentality, and break away from your normal prejudices. There are lots of awesome people out there that don’t look or act exactly like you. And definitely don’t let an inferiority complex get in the way of reinventing yourself. Leave that old high school baggage behind and trust me, the cool chicks and the hot guys will talk to you.
- Acquire a new skill. Take up the guitar, create your own cartoon strip, learn yoga, or practice your rock wall climbing. Pursue your passions, and the reinvented new you will be smarter, more interesting, and have more friends than before.
Original by Valerie David