I was 16 years old, a junior in high school. At a time when I should have been enjoying football games, Friday night pizza gatherings and sweet talk from the male cuties in my Math class–I was feeling empty.

For some strange reason, I felt like a misfit. It seemed like all my classmates connected. They talked about the same things and wanted to hang out in the same places. I, on the other hand, found myself thinking about what I wanted my life to look like “when I grow up.” From my teenage perspective, the thought of being an adult excited me.

I didn’t criticize my peers for having what I considered unimportant conversations and seemingly risky behaviors. In fact, it was just the opposite. I was wondering: “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get with this? Any of it.”

Academics bored me. My classmates confused me. And the environment stagnated me. All of which lead to a C student who was called a nerd and labeled as too good to hang out with her peers.

Those were three signs that it was time for a change:

1. I was no longer challenged.
2. I could no longer relate to the people around me
3. My energy didn’t match the energy of the environment. 

One day, I was walking down the hall and Dr. Gilbert, an associate principal, as I remember her to be, yells, “Smith”! Most of the teachers and administrators referred to me as “Smith”. I have three older siblings so most often I was known by my last name, which came with clear expectations.

Wondering if, for some unforeseen reason, I was in trouble my heart started pumping and hands became clammy. I immediately stopped and turned around. She walked up to me and put her arm around my shoulders and casually said, “Hey, how are you doing?” Not clear on whether she really wanted to know how I was doing or if she was just getting cozy to see if I had a pass to be roaming the halls, I enthusiastically responded with my usual “Excellent!”.

Engaging me in further conversation she asked, “how are your classes?” At that moment, I surprised myself. I said, “Dr. Gilbert I don’t enjoy school anymore.”

Forgetting that I was on my way to class, she said, “Come, take a walk with me.” Continuing with the small talk, she led me into her office. After taking a seat she promptly asked, “Have you ever considered going to college or getting a job?”

I lit up! I felt my eyes popped wide open and I smiled broadly. I felt the energy of opportunity. I felt a boost of confidence when she continued, “I’ve noticed you, and you are quite mature for your age.”

Whiling trying to look attentive to the conversation, I thought: Wow! I’d love to go to college. As that thought past, the little bogeyman on my shoulder said: I wonder if she knows I’m a C student? They probably don’t let C students go to college. I wonder what grade point average I have to have to be admitted? This is probably not going to work. I was too embarrassed to ask and I certainly didn’t want her to look up my record. So I said, nothing.

I told her I’d go to the admissions office of the local college to see if I can enroll. Being true to my word, that’s exactly what I did. The next semester, while still in high school, I took Speech and Biology college courses. It was amazing. I found a new space where I could breathe again.

What’s in that experience for you?

Here’s how to take a leap of faith:

1. Listen and Trust Yourself. You know when it’s time for a change. Your body, mind and spirit will never lie to you. You aren’t feeling anxious, unsettled, unhappy and disconnected for no reason. If you take the time to stop, you’ll know exactly what you feel and why you feel it.

2. Open Up. You can choose to suffer in silence and pretend to be happy or open up and share with someone who can and will help you. Consider someone who can see options that you never thought of and with whom you respect.

3. Take Action. Opportunities are all around you! Doors with various labels are waiting for you to walk through them. Many times, you see them and even feel a tug to move toward them, but turn around and step back into your box.  Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen if I walk toward a worthy opportunity?

Copyright 2018 S. Renee Smith. S. Renee is a nationally recognized self-esteem, branding and communications expert, coach, speaker and author. For more information visit is www.srenee.com.

Help! I’m Surrounded By Haters


I recently lost a lot of weight. I have lots more to lose and am losing it, but some people I thought were friends are not supportive. They were happier when I was unhealthy and unhappy. It’s hurting me. How do you suggest I handle the let down and pain?

Congratulations on your weight lost. It represents your ability to be disciplined and your desire to take ownership of your life. I celebrate with you. To your question, many people, including me, have had moments when we discover that the people that we choose to be our friends aren’t friends at all. Of course, it is hurtful, disappointing, and agonizing to think that we didn’t see or respond to the red flags before. Although it is difficult to understand, I encourage you to embrace it and thank God for it. This isn’t about them, this is about you. It is your gift. It is your lesson. If you point the finger at them, you will miss the opportunity to grow and discover new and exciting things about yourself. And, I assure you that, if you shift, you will be in position to attract to you friends that will embrace you for who you are.

Here is an excerpt from my book There Is More Inside that shares what I did when my “friends” turned their back on me.


Every person has to face and accept rejection throughout his or her
life. The important thing is to not take rejection personally. Sometimes
your friends don’t like you. Your boyfriend doesn’t like you or your boss
doesn’t like you. Some people in the church don’t like you. You’re not
light enough. You’re not dark enough. You’re not tall enough. You’re not
short enough. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. You’re too fat.
You’re too skinny. None of this is true, because your look is right for your
path. You are divinely made for your calling. You’re just right for your
purpose. So, with the power you have within you, rise above the haters.

My first major head-on collision with rejection came when I was
fifteen. I’m not saying this was my first encounter with rejection; just my
first major blow. When I was twelve I began developing what I thought
would be lifelong friendships with three other girls. We went to house
parties together, we shared secrets, we worked at McDonald’s together,
and we tried to teach each other everything we were learning along the
way. Nevertheless, after spending numerous hours talking about boys, sex,
tampons, and how to be beautiful, in a single day our friendship ended.
The story is short and simple. These girls came to me and said that
they could no longer be my friend because I was black. They said their
parents were putting pressure on them to dismiss our friendship. What’s
amazing is that I was able to deal with losing my best friends. I didn’t
even spend energy talking about it. I didn’t miss a beat. I decided they’re
entitled to pick their friends and if they want it to be based on color, so be
it. It was their loss. I knew that I was a true, loyal friend.
When you overcome rejection, as I did, you lose something and you
gain something. In every case, what I gained was so much greater than
what I lost. It didn’t always feel like it at the time, but when you look for
the good you’ll find it. This fact gives me comfort in each challenge that I

There will be times when it seems that life is demanding more from
you than you think you’re able to give, but I believe it is God’s way of
showing us the strength He has placed in us. Most of us can’t even
conceive of what is in us.

Be well, There Is More Inside, S. Renee

Share your story. Join the conversation by leaving your comment below.

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

New Dimensional Thinking: How to Make a Quantum Leap in Your Confidence

Hello Ms. Renee,

I need your help. I often doubt myself in most situations. For example: I often think I won’t be able to handle the classes my major requires—physics and chemistry. Math and science are my worst subjects. I can do the work, but I will just have to work so hard at it. It drives me crazy. I try to stay encouraged, and stand on God’s word,  but my main phobia is failing. I get so discouraged when I don’t do as well as I would like to.  Can you help me get over this crisis, please?

Hello Friend:

Thank you for your courageous question. Every day each of us are faced with thoughts, feelings, and challenges that force us to face ourselves and who we claim we are.  That’s what confidence building is—evolving to a state of consciousness where we no longer freeze in doubt, but, instead, know that whatever decisions we make we can handle the outcome. In There Is More Inside, I explain that confidence is learning to trust yourself with your own life.

I’m not sure if we ever earn our own complete trust. I believe, however, that the better the decisions; the better the outcomes. Successful outcomes develop the trust that one needs to build a confident relationship with him/herself.

As I access your email and concerns it is clear that you are, as an older and wiser friend shared with me, “turning on yourself.” The admission that you “often think I won’t be able to handle the classes…” tells me that there is a battle. Like an argument with a loved one, internal battles drain our energy and occupy needed thought space for other important matters. This is what causes chaos and creates fog in our lives.

Quantum leaps always start in the mind. You may have faith to begin the journey, but do you have the belief system to sustain yourself over the course of the trip? As in your case, you had the faith to start college. Do you believe that you can finish it? It is important to have faith. It is equally important to have belief in the faith that you claim you have. You can’t “stand on God’s word.” You have to know and understand the laws and principles so that you can move in God’s word.

You claim that, “Math and science are my worst subjects…it drives me crazy. I get discouraged when I don’t do as well as I would like to.”  I hope that the results don’t come as a surprise to you. Words travel farther than you can see them go. Creating the life you ask them to create. Think of it this way. If you sent a package via one of the express carriers to China, you would expect it to arrive safely. Every word you speak arrives safely to the Creator. The Creator then assists you in creating what you’ve asked for. But, remember, you asked for it. It’s never about what you can or cannot do. You’re not the first person challenged in a subject. And, you most certainly, won’t be the last.

What did the individuals who were in your shoes do? They studied more, got a tutor, and joined a study group. I don’t believe that you are in a crisis. The person who doesn’t have access to food, shelter, clothing, education, and safety is in a crisis. You are learning, growing, and evolving into the person that the internal, real you knows that you are. When you seek, you will find the answer. Remain Powerful and always remember that There Is More Inside.

2009 © SRS Productions, Inc., S. Renee

The response is only the opinion of S. Renee. She doesn’t state any claims or make any demands that her opinion is right or that anyone should follow her advice. If you feel that you should seek medical assistance you are encouraged to do so.