How to be a girlboss: A step-by-step guide on how to enter your slay era


Sofia Gonzalez Bernier

Sofia and Chloe Ravenscraft (12) pose in their eighth grade hot dog costumes for Halloween.

Step 1: Confidence is key. 

If you looked at me freshman year, you would’ve seen an awkward, 5’ tall, horse girl with glasses and a lisp from my retainer. Let’s just say I was not very popular and hated speaking up. I was too buried in my own fear to even try anything remotely new until I saw the audition sign ups for our fall musical. 

   That year, I became part of our theater company and became a “theater kid.” Even though some students in our school might associate that label as cringe, I can proudly say that theater has helped me transform from my awkward freshman year self to practically the same person without a retainer lisp and with more confidence. 

   Not everyone can find their confidence through theater, but high school is a time to explore. Find something you’re good at and work hard to excel at it. The more you’re willing to try, the more confident you will become when you succeed at it. 


Step 2: You’re not that important.

It’s true. Believe it. Now this might sound mean, but it’s one of the best lessons I’ve learned. Nobody cares as much as you do. Stop overthinking! Nobody will remember if you asked a “dumb” question, because they probably won’t even remember being in your class. 

   I’ve met so many people who cut themselves short from opportunities because they think they’ll be judged. I’ve even been a victim to this mentality. But none of us should be. Nobody will hyperfixate on your life as much as you do, so if you think something might be embarrassing, odds are most people won’t even notice. 

   I can’t even count how many embarrassing moments I’ve had in high school. I’ve made a fool out of myself in class, at assemblies and even during performances. You never know shame until you almost fall off the stage in a fat suit in front of 600 people. I just know that whenever you look back on these moments, they’ll turn from anxiety inducing into funny memories. 


Step 3: Dress to impress yourself, not others. 

I can’t help but cringe at the thought of my fashion sense freshman year. It was nonexistent. I tried so hard to “fit in” by wearing off-brand lululemon leggings with a Hamilton sweatshirt and the same neon purple Sketchers every day. It was atrocious.

   If there was anything that the pandemic taught me, it was that there’s always time to dress comfy. However, for certain people like myself, wearing sweatpants to school made me feel like I was still in my room logging onto glitchy Zoom lessons. I started senior year by promising myself that I would focus more on looking how I wanted to feel.

   Flash forward a few months and I’ve started wearing what I want when I want, and it’s honestly really empowering. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, I recommend outfit themes per day and dressing up with your friends. It’ll help boost your confidence and it’s not bad to let your style match how you feel. 


Step 4: Know how to set boundaries. 

If there’s one thing that elementary school taught us, it was to “treat people the way you want to be treated.” This people pleaser attitude is not exactly that simple when extra layers are added to your life. 

   I have always been involved in too many clubs and hard classes while trying to uphold certain expectations. It’s a lot.

   For years I struggled with personal stressors while trying to be a therapist for my friends. I didn’t notice how harmful this was until it was too late and my load was too much to bear. Thankfully, I finally got time and space to myself in quarantine and started to gain a sense of self-worth and pride that I’d never had before. 

  This has been my hardest step to overcome, and I’m still working on it. I’m still trying to find that balance between my social, academic and personal lives. I’m pretty sure most of you are, too. It takes time, but I guarantee, it’s one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. 


Step 5: Make people wonder…

As a Puerto Rican girl coming into elementary school with a strong accent, I wasn’t exactly the kind of person that people thought would get far. I could barely read English picture books while half of my classmates were zooming through the Harry Potter series. I was determined to change that.

   In just about a year, I worked myself all the way up to an enrichment level reading class. I then went on to gain many valuable skills and reach for a vast majority of my opportunities. 

   Even with all of the ups and downs of high school as a whole, I can say that I will be leaving this place much better than I came in. I have an exciting future ahead of me full of unexpected twists and turns. 

   I always wonder how that Latina with a retainer lisp and purple sketchers came to be a girlboss. The answer is simple. I didn’t sell myself short. While most of us might get scared of the future, I’ve grabbed at so many of my opportunities as my way of striving for excellence. With just a little balance, I have made it work, and you can too.

   The best advice that I can give is to really go for it. If you don’t sell yourself short, maybe you’ll look back at high school and know that you’ve made people wonder how you got where you are, too.