Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have to get braces, and I am upset about it. The orthodontist says I am going to have them for four years. I am nervous because I am going to have them for the majority of high school. I am scared I am going to look so bad with them. I don’t want braces. How should I prepare myself? -- Braces for Life, Detroit

DEAR BRACES FOR LIFE: First, take a deep breath and look around. If you look carefully, I bet you will see a lot of students wearing braces. It is virtually a rite of passage between middle school and high school. Even some adults get them in later years. This is because it is healthier for your teeth to be in alignment. Many people’s teeth grow in incorrectly, which can cause a host of dental issues.

Rather than obsessing over how you will look, talk to your orthodontist about options. There are clear braces that are virtually imperceptible. Find out if you are a candidate for those. You can likely work with your orthodontist to select braces that best fit your personality and your dental profile.

Beyond that, do your best to think about the big picture. Braces now means straight teeth later. If you get teased about them, ignore the irritants, or respond with how happy you will be with straight teeth in a few years.

Camping Trip Preparations Causing Reader Anxiety

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am going camping in a few weeks with a couple of friends. I have never been camping or been in the middle of nowhere before. My friend sent me a packing list, and it had minimal things on it. I was told to bring a sleeping bag, food that will stay fresh, a toothbrush and clothes. This freaked me out because I feel like I have to bring everything in my house. I am so nervous. How should I prepare myself? Should I even go? -- Headed to Wyoming, Chicago

DEAR HEADED TO WYOMING: Contact your friends, and find out specifically what they are packing in their bags. What clothes? What shoes? What outerwear? What type of sleeping bag?

Next, go to the website for the campgrounds you will be visiting. Learn as much as you can about the terrain there and the predicted weather conditions. By doing research, you can ease your own tensions. You can also prepare by building up your endurance. Start walking more so that you will be more accustomed to hiking. Invest in a good pair of hiking boots. Bring sunscreen and sunglasses with UV protection.

Talk to your friends openly. Let them know you are excited to join them on this adventure, but you are also nervous because you have never camped before. Ask them to support you by telling you as much as they can before you go so that you can be ready to hang with them in relative comfort.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)