See here for overview.
The fairy story “Cinderella” has been loved by grown-ups as well as children for several generations. One reason is that it appeals to our sense of justice to see people get what they deserve with goodness rewarded and wrong punished. Cinderella, according to the story, was “as good as she was beautiful.” She surely deserved recognition and happiness but was deprived of the fun, friends, pretty clothes, and romance young girls want, until her fairy godmother arranged an opportunity for her to have her true worth recognized.
Many modern stories and movies are woven around this same idea. Another reason this theme appeals to us is that at least occasionally most of us feel that we are Cinderellas ourselves and that some unkind fate is preventing us from realizing our cherished desires. Whether our own handicaps and limitations are physical, financial, social, or personal they are apt to seem as unfair and frustrating as the tyranny of the selfish stepmother and sisters.
We often like to do a little pleasant day-dreaming in which we see ourselves like Cinderella, overcoming all obstacles and achieving our fondest wishes. But at the same time we know there is no use crying in a chimney corner and expecting a good fairy to come to our rescue and work a charm for us.
The nice thing is that you can do a great deal without the aid of any magic to make your dreams for yourself come true.
Right now you are at that challenging and often difficult stage in growing up when you are expected to begin to think and appear and behave as an adult. And most of the time you want to be grown-up, but occasionally you get tired of your new responsibilities and want to be a little girl again.
Teachers and parents often confuse you by their sometimes seemingly inconsistent expectations of you. They tell you how grown-up they think you are (or ought to be) and then object to some of the things you want to do because they say you are too young. They want you to assume more responsibility for yourself in some ways and still want you to accept their decisions on other issues. This is partly because they recognize your increasing abilities and independence, but they know they are still responsible for you. And it’s partly because even when they have the sincerest desire to be understanding you are still so much less mature than they are that they do find it difficult to see and think of you as you see and think of yourself.
The next few years will be tremendously important ones for you. There are bound to be some problems but there will also be some wonderful experiences.
If you would like to do what you yourself can about keeping your skies sunny and the course of your life running smoothly toward the fulfillment of your dreams, here are three suggestions:
1. Stand back and take a good square look at that interesting young person, YOU. Try to see yourself as you really are, not as you wish you were. Try to see yourself as you appear to others.
2. Analyze carefully that lovely girl who is the leading lady of your daydreams – the girl you are hoping to become – so you will have a clear-cut goal to work toward.
Take a good square look at that interesting person YOU.
3. Learn all you can about what factors influence the development of attractive personalities so you can work on your problems intelligently and effectively.
This little book has been written especially for you to help you do these three things. But it’s a good thing to remember that printed pages can only point out facts and explain principles and theories. The use you make of these is up to you. If you are looking for a guaranteed recipe for popularity in one easy lesson, there is no use reading further, for there are no short-cuts to genuine charm.
All the fairy gave Cinderella was a glamorous dress, a pair of slippers, and a ride to the ball. With all that she still might have been quite unnoticed in the crowd when she got there, for there were many beautiful and elaborately dressed girls at that notable party. The personal qualities which attracted the Prince and won his heart were already hers and had been developing for a long time.
However humble the circumstances of her life, any girl who has strength and beauty of character and an attractive personality will be ready to make good use of any opportunities which come her way and will be able to obtain for herself and share with all who know her, the real treasures of this life.
What Is Personality?
Actually personality is not a possession of a favored few. Everyone has some kind of personality, for it is the combination of the ways you are like and the ways you are different from everyone else. It is not a separate thing but the sum total of everything about you – how you look, think, feel, and behave. It might be called the “essence” of you, and the impression you make on others could be considered its shadow.
In the popular use of the word, however, we think of people as having personality or PERSONALITY, and it’s that plus quality which you want to develop.
Your Personality Is Important
The desire to be a lovable, attractive girl is not a selfish or trivial whim. It is so important to you, to those around you and to society that it deserves to be one of your very most serious concerns. Here are a few of the reasons:
1. Studies show that among those people who lose their jobs or are unsuccessful in them, failure is many times more frequently due to immature personalities and lack of ability to get along with people than inability to do the work.
2. In this choice land of America the democratic way of life we cherish is built on our belief in the worth of each individual and the sacred nature of human personality. No matter how many wars we fight to defend it, democracy can survive only when people are able to get along happily together. This requires grown-up personalities. Selfish concern over individual rights with no thought of responsibility to others is an indication of immaturity. Freedom can be preserved only where personalities grow.
3. The last sentence of the fairy story is significant – “And so Cinderella and the Prince were married, and they lived happily ever after.” Many girls succeed in winning a prince, but both statistics and observation tell us that for some, marriage is the end of the romance rather than the beginning of the richest and most rewarding part of their lives. According to sociologists, the most frequent reason for failure in marriage is undeveloped personalities – one or the other or both partners not being sufficiently grown-up in their ability to get along well with others.
So your goal should be a personality that will help you to make a good marriage and to achieve for yourself and to create for others through it, happiness that will last and increase “ever after.” Even if you never marry, the same maturity and personal qualities necessary for successful marriage will enable you to build a happy, useful, contributing life for yourself.
4. “Happy ever after” has a deeper meaning, for we believe that one purpose of this earth existence is personal development. The growth we make here is the only thing we can take with us. That is permanent and can be built on throughout eternity.
Now Take a Good Look at Yourself
“It’s a nuisance to be the youngest girl. I’m sick and tired of hand-me-down clothes.”
“Why should I help with decorations for the dance? I’m not going. I haven’t a date, and I won’t go without one.”
“I wish my face would clear up. It looks a fright.”
“I feel like an elephant; why do I have to be so much bigger than the other girls?” Or maybe, “Why am I such a midget? I look like a little mascot tagging along with the crowd.”
“It isn’t that I’m not willing to be on the program, but I always get so frightened I can’t do anything when I get up in front of people.”
“I can think of clever things to say when I’m home; why do I feel so self-conscious and dumb when I try to talk to a boy?”
“I’m afraid to start going to that larger school. it will be terrible if no one likes me.”
“Mary used to be my best friend. Now all she thinks about is boys.”
“I wonder why I didn’t get invited to that party? I used to go with those girls.”
“Why don’t I have more fun?”
Have you ever had thoughts like these? It’s doubtful if any girl ever lived to be fourteen or fifteen without occasional blue moments and a few worries about herself, so don’t think you are alone in this. Every girl has her problems, and we don’t mean just the mathematical kind. It isn’t a good idea to become too introspective, and there’s no point in just brooding and wishing. But the first step in taking yourself in hand and solving your problems is to get them right down in front of you where you can look them square in the face.
So now, take a piece of paper and write down as honestly and accurately as you can some of your own personal problems. Your list may include a few of those mentioned here or some very different ones. Is overcoming shyness a concern of yours, or improving your grades at school, or getting along more happily at home, or learning to worry less?
Whatever you put down, keep your list and, as you read, watch for ideas that might help you.
As you learn more about the common problems of girls your age you may find that some of your worries concern normal phases of growing and if you can just be patient, time will take care of them; for instance, most girls have complexion troubles for a year or two, but these generally clear up. Another thing, the normal growth pattern is a plateau in late childhood when there is little change in size for quite a while. Then there is a growth spurt in height, usually followed by a growth spurt in weight. Each girl goes through these at her own rate, and if you are ahead or behind the other girls, chances are there will be much less difference after a while. Since girls grow tall earlier than boys do, tall girls feel even more conspicuous. But give the boys time. They’ll not only catch up, they’ll get ahead.
Learn to Accept Yourself
Some things you don’t like about yourself are entirely beyond your control. If the star of your daydreams is slender and tall when you are short and a bit on the chubby side, or if you dream of fame as a concert pianist, when after a full year of piano lessons you can’t tell a sharp from a flat, you had better change your dreams. Some things about you just are. This is particularly true of your build, your coloring, and even some limitations in your abilities (though don’t accept failure in those too easily or too early because few people develop all they might). But it’s better to accept some things and learn to be happy in spite of them. If you keep your ideal for yourself realistic and attainable, your daydreams will spur you to action. But if your dreams are only wishful thinking and substitutes for doing, they will get in the way.
One other thing that you need to accept is the fact that you are a girl. Do you want to be like your mother? Are there other women you admire, and want to resemble? Do the things girls do and are expected to do appeal to you? If so, you have the basis for a lovable feminine personality, and the gracious manners, attractive appearance, and other womanly attributes can be added. But if you really wish you were a boy and think they have all the advantages, it will be hard to be a truly attractive girl. This doesn’t mean there is something wrong if you have been called a tomboy and if you like sports and outdoor activity. After all, there are many things boys and girls both enjoy and they shouldn’t be identified with either sex. But it is important to be really and truly glad that you are you!
Face Your Problems but Recognize Your Advantages and Special Assets, Too
Would you like to be able to see yourself as others see you? Have you ever wondered if your friends would describe you as you would describe yourself? Chances are that some of the things you worry about are scarcely noticed by others, and perhaps you are quite unaware of other things they do see in you. Naturally you want people to know your best self, the real you, unobscured by things done out of thoughtlessness, or self-consciousness that may make them misjudge you.
Are you making the most of your advantages and giving your best points a fair chance to show up? If you were someone else, do you really think you would be attracted to “you”?
Just to balance the picture now that you’ve looked at some of your problems, write a description of the “you” that you know, and you want others to know, emphasizing what you believe are your assets and good qualities.