Annie Fox for Teens... Hey, Terra!

Annie (AKA Hey Terra!) has been around long enough to have experienced a lot of what Life can dish out. But, it hasn’t been so long that she's forgotten what it's like to be your age. Check out some of the thousands of email questions teens from around the world have sent to Terra. You may learn something useful from her answers:

Wish I had one:
“I need to concentrate on studying instead of worrying about guys all the time!”

Hey Terra,

Can you give me like a little pep talk lol.... So I can concentrate on studying, instead of worrying about guys all the time! I really can't concentrate. This guy said he'd call and doesn't and only talks to me online. He's sending me mixed signals, one minute he's all over me, the next, it's like he doesn't care. He's not the only guy who is trying to go out with me, but he's the one I want because he's actually respectful. But I have midterms next week and I can't even concentrate and try to study! HOW DO I START ?

Also, I have this forensic team meet and I have to go in front of all these people and act... I CAN'T!!!!!!!! I joined to get over my fear of public speaking, and now I'm totally scared. It's right after midterms!!!!


Dear Yikes,

You need a pep talk, huh? Sounds like you know what you need to be doing right now, but you're not doing it. I can understand how your mind runs away with itself into some delicious fantasy of this guy or that guy, and what will happen if and when he calls and what you'll say and what he'll say and how it will be when he asks you out and when you actually go out.... Blah, blah, blah. All of this is mildly entertaining, but if you let your monkey mind swing from every branch in the forest, you're going to be totally stressed and unprepared to take your midterms. So, the solution is to get control of your monkey mind.

How do you do that? Well, I could suggest meditation (I'm serious) but that takes practice and a class is helpful to get you started. Instead, since this is just an email exchange, I'm going to suggest that you start paying attention to those random, distracting thoughts of yours. Here's what you do... Clear your work space, unplug the phone or turn the ringer off and tell someone in your family that you'll be studying for the next hour and you would appreciate it if the phone rings and it's for you, would they please take a message and not disturb you until you take a break from studying. Then logout of IM and email so you remove the temptation to do that stuff.

Then choose one subject to study and set a goal for yourself for a 1 hour session. For example, "In the next hour, I'm going to review my history notes, from chapters 3 & 4 and go over the study guide." Make the goal doable so that at the end of the hour you can say, "OK, I did it! YAY for me. Now I' deserve a break and I can do what I want for 15 -- 30 minutes." (Decide what a reasonable "break" is. If you make it too short you'll feel un-rewarded for your studying. If you make it too long, you'll have trouble going back to the studying at the end of the break.)

If, during the break, you want to take a fantasy ride with your monkey mind, go for it and make it a good one! lol Or, have a snack, get some fresh air, or whatever you want. Just stick to the break time allotment and get back to your studying (with a new one-hour goal) when it's time to return.

If, during the studying time, you find your monkey mind wandering, that's okay. Don't flip out on yourself. Just notice it, and bring yourself back to accomplishing your goal for that study session. It's good to keep a clock nearby, so you can see how much studying you've done (Yay, Brittany) and how much time there is left before your next break.

That's the best pep talk I can offer because it gives you practical tools for getting this studying and runaway mind under control.

Please notice, that I didn't say anything about the guy and the mixed messages. It's not important now. You can't control his behavior and trying to outguess his motives is more monkey mind stuff. What you can control is you own behavior and if you stick with the goals and the break times, you'll have an easier time of it.

Finally, regarding the forensic team gig... DO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT NOW. Midterms are the focus. Everything else is your monkey mind trying to distract you from the focus. Don't go there. You'll have plenty of time to prepare for your presentation when midterms are over. OK? So forget about it for now and focus on first things first.

How's that sound?

In friendship,


Need some advice? Write to Terra. She'll give you a straight answer you can trust without any lectures.

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