Try this, not that

Recently, I had the honor and daunting responsibility of advising young people on how to deal with their dreams and their fears. Here�s the second installment in a series of their questions and my answers�

�I want to be a counselor for girls with eating disorders. I�m afraid I don�t feel prepared or have the resources to achieve this.� Counselor 2 B

Dear Counselor 2 B,

The need for counselors in this specific area is great, since some 10 million women suffer from eating disorders. In addition to earning a four-year college degree, check out the National Eating Disorder Organization at www.NED.org, where there is a wealth of information.

Even before you are a counselor, you will encounter people suffering from various eating disorders. NED.org has toolkits for people who are not counselors, such as coaches, teachers, parents and friends of individuals with eating disorders.

There�s an old saying, �Where there is a will, there is a way.� I believe whatever course you take in life, if you really want to help young women with eating disorders, you will find your way. Pursue your dreams and never stop believing. Many will be blessed by your efforts.

�I really want to travel, but I am so afraid of the unknown. How do I overcome this?� Future Traveler

Dear Traveler in Waiting,

You are not alone. I think it�s natural to be unsure about what we don�t know. I had a lifelong dream to travel to Europe. Knowing I�d regret not going propelled me to sign up for a guided tour in May 2010. Traveling by tour with expert guides is a safe alternative to going it alone. Experienced tour guides look out for you, enabling you to relax and enjoy yourself. Invite a friend or relative on the tour to share your experience.  Doing something difficult is always easier when someone you know is there.

To overcome fear, start with doing one new thing every day. If daily seems too much, try once a week. Take note and see how this builds confidence to do bigger things, like traveling. Consider smaller trips closer to home and then expand your horizons, going farther each time. Before you know it, you�ll be a world traveler.

�I want to be a writer and a journalist. What is your suggestion for increasing personal confidence in my writing?� Journalist Wantabe

Dear Wantabe,

I can really relate to your goal of becoming a writer, since that was my goal when I was in college. The best advice I can offer is this…

First, major in journalism with a minor in English.

Second, pay close attention to feedback from your professors. No matter what college course you are taking, you will draft papers, essays, reports, short answers and presentations. Professors can offer sound advice on ways to improve.

Third, find a way to report news on a regular basis, doing so will build confidence. Cover campus news for your college newspaper, submit city and county news to local newspapers and/or find an online blog that needs writers to contribute on a regular basis. There are lessons learned from how editors revise your content, so pay attention.

Fourth, read. Make it a habit to read your favorite journalists. Study how they use the language to inform, instruct and enlighten readers. My whole life long, newspapers and TV newscasts were like textbooks to me. I learned so very much from them.

As I always say, read on and write on!

2011 � Copyright Paula Damon.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, her columns took five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamonpaula@gmail, follow her blog at my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on FaceBook.

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