Discover the Teen Stress That You Just Made Worse
Until you’ve aged a little and accomplished some awesome things, and come to a place where you know you are fierce and can kill it in any situation, “being yourself” is really stressful. Especially if you want to be a lot more than “yourself.”
As a teen, I never wanted to be myself. I wanted to be the “self” that fit in and was liked for being myself. If I was actually myself, I would have never engaged in conversation, or done extra curricular activities, or been responsible with my chores.
I only did those things to appear normal, to have the hope of being a better ‘self’ someday, and so that my parents would get off my back and let me go back to my room to read as soon as possible. I wanted to escape who I was and imagine who I might be. I did not want to be myself. Myself was trapped in a flawed teenage body, in a house with crazy siblings and stressed out parents, and I was completely unable to express my feelings — let alone change my circumstances. I knew it was a waiting game — at least I hoped. But I resolved to suffer through it.
As a teen, there is no being yourself because you are in training all the time to be a future better self and everyone around you is invested in that future person — parents, teachers, leaders, counselors, etc. It’s stressful. Sure teens might want to be the center of the world — but not that world.
As an adult, engaging in learning, self-development and enriching your life is fun. I find it fun. I like getting better at things. As a teen, it was overwhelming to deal with how much there was to learn just to cope with daily life as it comes at you. Combine that with feeling embarrassed about not knowing things. Even learning to drive today has become an added pressure for a lot of teens instead of a fun journey to freedom. It’s one more thing they have to figure out, and it’s going to catapult them into the very world that might eat the alive.
Teens today recognize that the world is much more complicated than it was for me. Social media and the Internet flood them with stories of
the world that I might have only seen in passing on the evening news before it was turned off for dinner. I had no idea what was really going on — and if I had, I’m sure I would have been even more overwhelmed by trying to make sense of it and how I could possibly fit, live, and succeed in that world. Teens today, are highly anxious. Overly so. Fitting in with their current peers and finding a place in their future world is a big part of that.
The real fear is that “being yourself” is not going to be enough.
Please stop saying it! My inner teen wants hit you.
I know it’s out of love and encouragement, but really — only a super confident teen is going to take that advice. Have you ever met a super confident teen?
Maybe instead of being yourself, people should tell teens to just “be real.” Take some of the pressure off their personal identity. Be respectful of others of course, but be real about who you are in that moment and what you observe around you.
By the time you are an adult, you have so many hang-ups, barriers, protective facades, etc. that the entire adult population has been learning to be authentic for the last ten years. Apparently, we are not real at all. How can we be a good example of being ourselves if we are all faking it?
Let’s let the youth be authentic now. And what is real is only what is right now.
Q: Who do you see right now at this very moment?
Maybe it’s a C-student having a bad hair day who just found the car keys, and made their own breakfast.
That’s awesome! That’s an awesome person to be, and to be with. Celebrate it! Right now, in the moment, while it’s real.
After you do that as a parent or teacher or adult, then you can go forth and “just be yourself.”
Yours in the defense of teens,