DEAR HARRIETTE: I consider myself to be a friendly and generous person, although many people in my school consider me to be stuck-up and conceited. I admit that I have high self-esteem and that I expect the best for myself, but I'm not sure how this makes me "stuck-up." I like to lead in class discussions and projects, but then people call me a "control freak." What can I do to stop people from calling me these things? -- Seeking Balance, Queens, N.Y.
DEAR SEEKING BALANCE: You cannot control how people respond to you. Sometimes confident, energetic, friendly people can come off as overbearing or even conceited.
Sometimes, though, there is truth in the observations that others are making. I want you to review your actions over several days. Go back to the first moment that you saw someone at school. How did you react? Did you say "hello"? Did you demonstrate any interest in the various people who crossed your path?
You say you are called a control freak. Can you think back on times when that might be applicable? Do you always lead in class discussions and projects? How would you rate your ability to be a team player?
To be an effective leader, you must also be an effective supporter. You may want to practice that role.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I love your column! This is a belated comment about the young classmate who did not have Facebook and whose classmates were having trouble dealing with this. In all of the comments, I never saw anyone suggest that maybe the student's parents did not allow her to be on Facebook and she was too embarrassed to share this restriction with her classmates. In the age of multiple modes of communication, this is a minor challenge and offers the rest of the group an opportunity to find a suitable work-around, a much-needed skill as they go forward in school and work settings. Just a thought. -- Practical, St. Charles, Ill.
DEAR PRACTICAL: You have a point. While the official entry age for Facebook remains 13, that doesn't mean all parents allow their teens access to the social media site. (This, by the way, could be a good thing as it relates to managing whom teens interact with and when.) And, yes, it would be embarrassing for such a teen to have to explain that to his or her peers. Thanks for bringing up that possibility.
Your letter also brings light to the bigger point, which I addressed initially: If you run into an obstacle, your job is to figure out how to reach your goal, even if that means using other tools to get the desired result. Giving up because your preferred way of accomplishing a task is unavailable should not be an option, as it is not how you succeed in life. Perseverance, creativity, commitment and collaboration are key ingredients to successful teamwork.