What keeps us from asking for the help we desperately need?

Happy women in circle Most of us know these scenarios all too well: Someone needs extra help at work on a big project and the deadline is coming up quick; the kids forgot to remind you about the school bake sale they signed up for, and it’s tomorrow; your husband doesn’t seem to mind the dust bunnies on the floor or the piled up laundry, until he needs a clean and ironed shirt in the morning; and the dog is waiting by the door – and whining – again.

What is wrong here?

I’m the first to admit it: I struggle with asking for help or just saying no.  Many women do. I bet you’re one of them! But why is this?  Is there something different in our DNA that compels us to accept more and more responsibility?  Or are we a product of a generation gone by when women were expected to do everything – with a smile on their face?

We’re everything to everyone.  But what about us?  Have we forgotten ourselves?  Aren’t we important, too?  Remember the old saying “If momma ain’t happy, no one is”?

What keeps us from asking for the help we desperately need?  These are what some of my clients say:

  • What’s the use, nothing changes.
  • It’s easier for me to do it rather than listen to the excuses.
  • It’s my responsibility to make everything work.
  • Everyone is busy, so why am I special?

Sound familiar?  So what should you do?

  • This is a complex situation which did not arise overnight and there’s not an easy solution.  However, I am a big believer in developing self-awareness and then starting the conversation.  Be sure, the conversation won’t end anytime soon, nor should it.  Let me explain.
  • Some of us get so busy we don’t stop to ask ourselves why we are doing so much.  To be honest, if we have too much on our plate, we may not even recognize it!  If we don’t notice, why would anyone else notice?
  • Become aware of why you over-pack your schedule. Why do you think that you should always have the time? Why do you believe that it’s your fault if things don’t run smoothly?  Is it because it’s what you saw your mother do?  Is it because you can’t say “no”? Is it because you think it is expected of you?  Are you trying to prove you can do it all?  Why?
  • Then ask yourself if your reasons – or excuses – are real or perceived.
  • You matter! Validate your own needs and know that you have a right to ask for help.  This is where the conversation comes in.  Talk about how you feel with your family and co-workers, ask for their help and accept it when it’s offered.  Start a support group for overwhelmed women… well, okay, I know everyone is too busy and stressed to attend, but you get the picture.

 

It is so important to start with yourself and assess whether your work and personal responsibilities, as well as your time and energy, are balanced enough.  Chances are they’re not (which is why you’re reading this article).

Please reach out to me for assistance in asserting your voice.  You may contact me via email or phone 703-505-2413 to arrange an appointment.


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

My first therapist, but not my last.

Mother

Today is my mom’s birthday.  She is ageless to me so her age matters not.  When a connection with another person runs so deep you don’t actually see that person with your eyes, you see them with your soul… that is the type of bond we have.  So I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about my mom and how she has inspired me to do the work I do.

From a very early age my mom was a calming presence in my life.  She was an introvert before anyone knew what that was.  The result was favorable for me.  We have literally had thousands and thousands of hours in deep conversation — about relationships, emotions, life and even the weather.  Because of her never-ending patience with me, I was able to search for meaning (which I desperately craved) and reasons for why bad things happen to good people, why certain people stayed married and others did not, why some people are so difficult, and why some (like me) always preferred to stay home rather than go to parties.

She was my first therapist but not my last.  She supported me through my journeys in life, school, relationships and work.  She was there when I got married, had kids, and got divorced.  Mom is still here for me now — after her own devastating stroke.  I continue to go to her with my questions, frustrations, accomplishments or just to share.  

Though I tell her all of the time, she doesn’t believe how much her wisdom, kindness and patience made me the strong woman I am today.  Actually, all of the women in my family have stood on the shoulders of women who preceded them.  We are like one big chain link with every generation getting stronger and wiser.  My daughters are next in line and I am doing my best to give them what my mother gave me plus a little extra.

So Mom, thank you so much for being you and allowing me to be me.  You are my rock and I love you so much. 

My mission in life is to help, support, educate and empower women so that they can be their personal best and live a life filled with self-awareness and fulfillment… much like Mom did for me.

We women need to stop trying to do everything by ourselves, so let’s spread the word.  If you know of someone who needs support and guidance in being their best self, please share this newsletter with them; I can’t reach them without you.

Life can be difficult but I will help navigate through the rough spots.  Please don’t wait any longer. Call me today (any time of day) at 703.505.2413.


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Being a woman should not be scary!

Happy women in circle I am noticing a trend in my counseling practice.

Women are busier than ever.  Working women are more stressed than even before.  Working moms can’t handle the workload and subsequent tension and anxiety that comes with it (and shouldn’t have to). Technology, as wonderful as it is, provides obstacles to our peace of mind by inviting us to work 24/7.

Single, entrepreneurial moms (like me) are an ever-growing segment of the population.  The reality is that more marriages are ending in divorce and many women are choosing to be executives or business owners.  As a matter of fact, I think it’s good.  Not that being a single mom is good, but it is not a black or white issue.  It’s encouraging that women and moms are deciding to take charge of their lives.

This is a time like no other in history. We need to be aware of this transformation – this shift we women are making.   I believe we should actually take notice of this change and become aware of how we are adapting to it. Granted, for most of us, we haven’t been adapting very well!

We need to embrace it and actively seek support and guidance along the way.  This is new territory!  Uncharted terrain!  It can be scary, overwhelming and exhausting… but it can be done.

I want to help women to see the positives and help them embrace change – to always look for options to handle things – stress, overwhelm – better.   To see the opportunities in their situation.  I don’t want them seeing disaster.  As I have said many times before, this is a wonderful time in history to be a woman.  Our obstacles are more internal than external these days.

The more and more women I talk to about this topic — that it’s all true and definitely uncharted territory – the more positive feedback and acknowledgement I receive.  We women (especially moms) want to have it all.  We want to be strong, embrace our authenticity and leaderships skills as well as our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  We want to be role models for our daughters and the next generation and that’s why we try so hard.

I do believe we can have it all, but not necessarily at the same time.

These are some of the reasons why I am so passionate about the topic of empowering women.

My name is Michelle Kelley and my goal is to help you navigate through the rough spots in your life.  Changing by yourself can be difficult, so I would like to offer you an opportunity to speak with me. Please don’t wait any longer. Call me today (any time of day) at 703.505.2413.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

We all deserve to have peace in our relationships and in our hearts.

Middle aged coupleAs a counselor, I specialize in working with women and I have found there are a lot of women who are stressed out, overwhelmed or frustrated in their lives or relationships.

Is the world a more stressful place now than it used to be? Yes, it is. That’s why women need more support and guidance than ever before.

We’re not supposed to figure this out all by ourselves but that’s what a lot of us do!

When I work with women in my counseling practice, the first thing I do is help them gain clarity as to what the issues are. We are usually the one in our family who tries to keep it all together. It can be nerve-wracking and tiring.

The next step is to help women see the choices before them.  We all have choices in our relationships and lives. Once we see those choices we start to develop confidence. And we want to feel confident.

We want to come from that place where we feel good about ourselves so that we can ask for our needs to be met in our relationships. We want to communicate clearly. Being in relationships can be very challenging and without the right tool set, it can feel like we’re swimming upstream.

This is a journey for all of us.

If you are struggling in your life or relationships, please give me a call.

No one should have to go through difficult times alone. I would love to help.

My name is Michelle Kelley and my goal is to help you navigate through the rough spots in your life and relationships. We all deserve to have peace in our relationships and in our hearts. I can offer you quick, proven strategies to help you get the relief you deserve. Please don’t wait any longer. Call me today (any time of day) at 703.505.2413.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

It is necessary to start asking for change, for respect, to be heard and to be validated.

Skeptical Woman Looking at Man in CafeMany women struggle to break free of their “people pleaser” personality. Women who are “people pleasers” often choose not to voice their thoughts and opinions out of fear of not being liked or fear of confrontation.

I recall my own silence, especially as a young girl, and the pain it caused me. I can truly understand the phrase, “If I only knew then what I know now.” But there is no way that I could have known then what I know now. I had to live through my experiences and deal with the consequences. Only then was I able to move forward.

When girls or women lose their connection to their voice, and the ability to express their wants and needs, their feeling of personal empowerment suffers. A girl or woman who has been silenced has suffered an assault on her spirit.

Perhaps you can remember an instance when your voice was not validated or heard.  How did that make you feel? What effect did that have on your confidence?

When your thoughts and opinions are not validated, you will eventually experience a disconnection between you inner voice and you inner truth, and the messages you communicates to others.  You may begin to shut down emotionally.  You may end up traveling down the road of self-medication, drugs, abusive relationships and emotional problems.

It is necessary to start asking for change, for respect, to be heard and to be validated.  I often share my experiences and lessons learned in hope that some may avoid the seemingly lengthy amount of time it can take to learn how to make good choices.  A girl in one of my “Heathy Relationships” classes told me that she didn’t realize that she could play her part differently. In other words, she didn’t have to put up with any type of mistreatment or bullying. I gave her permission and the tools she needed to stand up for herself. You can and should do the same.

Here are 4 tips to honor and claim your voice:

  1. Create a list of your strengths.  Own them.  Be proud of them.  Don’t wait for others to validate your strengths. Validate yourself.
  2. Do you have a voice in decision making?  You have a right to be a part of this process.  You have to give yourself permission first.
  3. Revisit (reflect upon) a hurtful statement that was made to you.  How would you use your voice now?  What would you say differently?
  4. Take care of yourself (emotionally as well as physically). Too often women put themselves last in this area.

Women need to be conscious about the choices they are making in friendships, romance and life. We are not flowers in a field. We are supposed to be active participants in all areas of our lives.

I recently read a quote by Meg Ryan which stated, “If you empower women, you can change the world.” Many women are beginning to initiate positive change in their relationships.  Ultimately the positive effects will reach men, families and society.

We are in a time of great change in our personal relationships; let the change begin!

Please reach out to me for assistance if you’re ready to learn how to ask for respect and make changes in your life.  You may contact me via email or phone 703-505-2413 to arrange an appointment.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Radio Interview: Empowering Women

I was interviewed by Dr. Jane Karwoski and Jim Nico of the Social Network Station, based in Las Vegas, NV. The topic, of course, was women’s empowerment…

…how I EMPOWER women to make positive changes in themselves and their marriages.

Please click this link to listen to the episode.

http://thesocialnetworkstation.com/girls-do-stand-strong-with-michelle-kelley/

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Do you feel stuck, hopeless or frustrated in your relationship?

Conflict between man and womanVery little has been written on the topics of empowered women and healthy relationships outside the world of business and the workforce.

The 1940s version of an empowered woman focused on her physical accomplishments more than her emotional well-being or the health of her personal relationships. The iconic Rosie the Riveter poster spoke to women’s changing role in the workplace, where they were rising to the challenges of performing traditional “men’s work.”

In the 1960s, Betty Friedan spearheaded the feminist movement, prompting more and more women to question their traditional roles as homemaker and mother, and seek more fulfilling educational and career opportunities. In the 1990s, Hillary Clinton introduced the possibility that a woman could, indeed, be elected President of the United States.

Today’s empowered woman knows that she deserves – and knows how to command – respect in all relationships. She does not define herself only by her accomplishments in the world (Olympic gold medalist, Secretary of State, Company President or Chairwoman, etc.), no matter how amazing her accomplishments.

An empowered woman:

  • Listens to and honors her inner voice, and uses her outer voice to express herself positively in     all of her relationships
  • Recognizes her strengths and embraces her weaknesses.
  • Does not tolerate disrespectful or contemptuous behavior in her relationships because she values her time and energy.
  • Avoids emotionally-draining relationships and negativity.
  • Understands that the choices she has made in the past have created her current situation and knows that she is able to create a different future for herself.
  • Believes she deserves — and is capable of achieving — success in life, as she defines success for herself.

True empowerment for a woman comes from knowing how you feel and then being able to communicate your needs and feelings appropriately. You express yourself more fully and authentically in all your relationships — with your husband, children, parents, siblings, romantic partners, friends, and colleagues in the workplace. You know when to say ‘no’ and where to draw the line. You recognize your own needs and ask for help when necessary.

If you have not learned how to communicate your wants and needs effectively in your relationships, you likely feel stuck, hopeless or frustrated. Communication is oxygen in a relationship. Without it, the relationship will die.

Many women I have counseled in my private practice have confided in me that they feel their situation or relationship is hopeless, or that their husband or another key person in their lives won’t listen. Many of my clients have chosen to silence their voice, out of a feeling of hopelessness or despair. They may feel overpowered, threatened or invalidated in her key relationships.

I have traveled the road of personal disempowerment, and I know the obstacles women encounter along that road. Through education, guidance and support, I help women just like you create positive change in themselves first and their relationships second.

Please reach out to me for assistance if you’re ready to become one of today’s empowered women. You may contact me via email or phone 703-505-2413 to arrange an appointment.


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Top 10 Ways to Preserve Girls’ Self-Esteem, Part 2

Smiling Mother and Daughter with Lipstick, Looking at MirrorIn my last article, I shared with you the first five of my top ten list of ways in which parents can help to preserve their daughter’s self-esteem during the often emotionally-turbulent years of middle school and high school.

Before we dive into the remainder of this list, remember that girls tend to experience a drop in self-esteem as they reach puberty. The problem is that many girls stop sharing with their parents at this same time when they really need them most. Negative messages from others and the media can leave a girl with fractured self-esteem and an abundance of self-doubt.

As parents, you should make sure your home is a safe place for your daughter to ask questions and discus her feelings.

This list will help you do that.

  1. Teach her it’s okay to say NO.  No is a complete sentence.  Many girls feel as if they are being mean or rude if they say No to a friend.  You can see how this can create problems for them in their social and dating world.  A girl who is not comfortable saying No is lacking the ability to hold boundaries with herself and others.  There is an epidemic of girls who have the people-pleaser personality type.  I did.  Standing up for herself and learning when it’s okay to say No is a skill you can teach and role model.  Have her practice.  We all want our daughters to be able to say No to a boy who is not respecting her boundaries.  You might be surprised how many strong, outspoken girls struggle in this area.
  2. Challenge the ideal beauty standard.  Girls are bombarded with images of the ideal beauty standard.  Today it is being thin, having straight hair (straightened with a flat iron), dark eye liner and a flawless complexion.  The media today often projects an unrealistic and often dangerous standard of beauty.  I hear many girls talk about their dissatisfaction with their physical appearance and their weight.  Talk to your daughter about her standard of beauty.  We need to widen our definition of beauty so every girl can fit into it.
  3. The real scoop on popularity.  I have yet to meet a teen who really understands popularity — or anyone else for that matter.  Popularity is difficult to define.  It’s elusive.  It may always seem just out of reach.  It’s something most girls want at some point and it can cause a lot of emotional pain.  Most adults know the reality is that after you graduate, popularity means nothing.  Encourage your daughter to explore her thoughts on popularity and challenge some of her negative thinking, such as “I could never be popular.”  What if she were popular in a different sort of way?  Again, this is not a black and white issue.  In the grey is where she will find the answers she is seeking.  You can help her.
  4. Dealing with mean girls and mean comments.  The truth is that all girls have experienced life on both sides.  We have all been a bit mean to others, and also have been on the receiving end of it.  An open discussion is what I recommend here.  One of the best pieces of advice is to always validate your daughter’s feelings.  Her feelings are real to her and they can be scary.  If she feels she is being picked on, then that is where you start the conversation.  If she is experiencing emotional pain from being picked on or bullied, seek counseling to help her learn ways to stand up for herself and overcome the self-doubt she is most likely experiencing.
  5. Stay connected — no matter what.  Let’s face it, in today’s world with teens being so connected to technology, it can be challenging to keep our own connection to them.  However, most teens really do want to have some quality time with parents and family members.  Be creative.  Listen to your daughter; don’t just talk at her.  Spend time with her doing something she enjoys.  Research shows that when parents offer an open, supportive environment at home, teenage girls are more likely to reach out in times of trouble.

A daughter is a wonderful gift. Think back to when she was a little girl coming to you about everything.  Well, she still is vulnerable and scared at times on the inside.  Remember this is a difficult time for her and her hormones are causing her to feel even more emotional.  So be patient, take a break, and get support.  The end result will be worth it.

If you feel that your daughter will benefit from speaking one-on-one with a counselor as she enters these uncertain teenage years — or if you would like to learn how to guide her —  please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413 to arrange an appointment.

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Top 10 Ways to Preserve Girls’ Self-Esteem, Part 1

Mother and daughter doing arts and crafts together at home in living roomResearch shows that girls experience a significant drop in self-esteem around puberty — often during the middle school years.  They internalize negative messages they hear from others and the media.  Messages about the ideal body type or ideal beauty can leave a girl with fractured self-esteem and an abundance of self-doubt. The damaging effects of chronic low self-esteem can surface at any time in her life, wreaking havoc with her relationships and happiness.

It’s never too early to start helping your daughter create counter-balance in her world.  This is your job as parents.  Your home should be a safe place for her to question and explore her feelings, right?  The problem is that many girls stop sharing with their parents around puberty and they engage more with friends — through social media or texting.  Oftentimes parents find themselves on the outside looking in and feeling helpless.

Here is my top ten list of ways in which parents can help to preserve their daughter’s self-esteem during the often emotionally-turbulent years of middle school and high school.

  1. Praise her efforts and accomplishments.  Everyone has a unique talent, if not many.  Many of us, me included, did not discover this until well into adulthood. Help your daughter discover her talents be they academic, sports, art, music, communication skills, or whatever it may be.  We live in a time where being athletic can be seen as the end-all, be-all — leading to a first class seat in the popular group.  If your daughter is not athletic, help her find a place/group where she feels accepted.  We all need to be a part of something.  Early on you can guide her in a positive direction.
  2. Talk about self-image.  The media and fashion industry thrive on female insecurity.  Body shame and eating disorders are at an all-time high.  Help your daughter recognize and also reject harmful messages about her body.  Encourage her to define beauty for herself.  Talk about the temptation to compare and the desire to be popular.  Help her realize her value is not in her looks.  I believe that there is great value in each person.  How do you define value?
  3. Discuss social media traps.  Teach your child to use social media with care. Remind her that people often brag on social media and they tend to put their lives in the best light.  What they are seeing may not reflect reality. Having too many friends (such as on Facebook) can easily lead to social comparison.  Great questions to ask her:  What do you notice about other people’s status updates?  How much time do you think you spend on social media and is it balanced with your other activities?  How do you want to show up on social media?  One of my teen clients recently shared with me that social media causes her so much anxiety, but she can’t stop.  In other words, she doesn’t want to miss out.  FOMO is the fear of missing out and it is a real issue for teens.  Be especially aware of Ask.fm or Instagram’s “rate me” posts.  This can be the perfect platform for bullying and dangerous rumors.  Yet at the same time they can be so tempting to girls.
  4. Give her permission to be herself.  A girl needs to feel unconditionally loved and that she is “good enough” as is. I am talking about her physical appearance as well as her emotional world.  I realize there may be concerns that you may need to deal with such as a difficult personality or possibly getting braces to help her feel good about her smile.  All of us will strive for improvement if we genuinely feel accepted the way we are.  If your daughter is having difficulty fitting in with her peers, you may want to seek counseling for further insight and advice.
  5. Nurture positive friendships.  Your daughter will experience a variety of friendships throughout her school years.  Think back to the friendships you had when you were a teen.  Some were likely positive and healthy while others were negative and hurtful.  Some lasted and some did not.  Help your daughter understand the sometimes changing-nature of friendships and to resist the urge to hold on too tightly.  Discuss what constitutes a good friend and healthy relationships.  Help her distinguish between being treated rudely and misinterpreting a situation.  Friendships that cause her pain are not necessarily negative.  Many girls tend to see relationships in black and white.  Either they are good or bad.  The reality is that there are many possible categories for friendships.  Ask her to come up with some of her own categories.  You can also ask her to reflect on what type of friend she is to others.  I often see parents who struggle in this area.

That concludes the first half of my list.  I’ll share the rest with you in my next newsletter, so be sure to watch for it in two weeks. In the meantime, I encourage you to work on the topics listed above.

If you feel that your daughter will benefit from speaking one-on-one with a counselor as she enters these uncertain teenage years — or if you would like to learn how to guide her —  please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413 to arrange an appointment.

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Why Teens are Ill-Equipped to Self-Monitor Social Media for College

In this guest post, Alan Katzman explains in detail exactly why today’s teens are ill-equipped to self-monitor their social media in preparation for the college application process. (February 8, 2014)

Today’s high school students are facing unprecedented competition in pursuit of their academic interests. Although it is widely known that colleges are increasingly likely to view student social media to recruit, screen and assess qualified candidates, most students continue to engage in public social media activities intended to impress their friends rather than college officials.

What surprises many teens is discovering how far removed their social media holograph is from the person they are and how they would want others to perceive them. Why is there such a disconnect?

This discussion begins and ends with today’s currency of teen popularity:  social media likes, friends, re-posts and follows which are the driving force behind teen social media use.

When you hand your teenager a smartphone you are handing them a portal for unlimited self-exploration, discovery and expression where the audience is immediate, mostly anonymous and unbound by social protocol. As a result, today’s teens are experiencing social interactions in ways that we, as adults, can neither understand nor comprehend. Teenagers today are no different than teenagers of the past but with a smartphone in hand there are no boundaries to contain their curiosities.

The power of social media lies in its simplicity and immediacy. We produce the content and we distribute the content to our designated audiences thru self-defined social media channels. The audience for social media is generally measured in the currency of likes, followers, shares and reposts. Make no mistake, teens value how many followers they have and, in many ways, this is how teens today are measuring their popularity. Like everything else in life, it’s all about the numbers when it comes to how many likes, friends, followers and shares teens have.

The pressure many teens are facing to be funnier, racier, and more daring in order to get more followers and likes is at the heart of the problem of using social media to impress their friends.

Just ask a group of teens if any of them has ever taken down a social media post because it failed to collect their own self-defined minimum number of likes. The response will likely startle you.

Teens understand that many of the activities they are sharing online may come back to haunt them down the road but they are naturally putting off dealing with any potential consequences until a later date. It is important to remember they are living in their moment and are using social media as a way to socialize and meet people while dealing with teenage peer pressures and their need for social acceptance.

So, when it’s time to prepare for college, parents expect their teen to be able to clean and enhance their social media profiles for possible collegiate review.  Remember that we are dealing with 17 and 18 year olds with judgments that are not yet fully developed. What happens is that the pressures of the moment to continue to trump future endeavors. The knee-jerk reaction is then adopting an alias or shutting down social media during the college application process.

Unfortunately, there is no longer a safe and reliable way to simply “turn-off” one’s online presence. At best, temporarily shutting down your Facebook profile or using a fictitious name during the application process will raise suspicions that you have something to hide or at worst will prevent you from effectively differentiating yourself from others. College recruiters use social media to proactively search for qualified candidates. Students without a presence or hidden by an alias will never be found and will be missing out on critical opportunities.


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Alan Katzman is the founder and managing member of Social Assurity LLC delivering personalized social media management services focusing on maximizing social media profiles to effectively stand out when colleges and employers take a look. Find more information at http://socialassurity.com/.

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