I am writing this letter to confirm that being a teenager is difficult.
You may hear from many adults this is the best or easiest time of your life. Adults mean well. With that said, it is much easier to see the teen years from that perspective when you are 20 years beyond them. The fact is: the phase of life that you are in right now is filled with many different stressors and pressures. Depending on your circumstances, some problems are more crucial than others; nonetheless, your worries, your pain, your confusion and your conflicts are important. In fact, they are just as important as any adults', no matter how trivial it may seem to them in comparison. Hurt is hurt, and pain is pain. Growing up is not always easy or much fun. In fact it can feel very scary.
At a time in your life when you are seeking autonomy and independence it can be very difficult when there are so many details of your life that you have no control over. For example, you do not get to decide if your parents stay married or get divorced; you do not get to decide how your parents interact with each other (whether they are married or not); you do not get to decide who you live with or where you live; you have no control over the amount of money your parents make; you may not even be of age to drive yet, or maybe you are, but your parents can’t afford to pay for driver’s training, to purchase a car or pay for car insurance. So here you are, a teenager with little to no say on issues that have an enormous impact on your life, yet you are at a turning point in maturity where you are expected to make responsible and mature decisions…a conundrum, don’t you think? I do.
As a teenager, you may be facing struggles while trying to pull together all of the different components of your life. Socially and emotionally you might be trying to learn how to get people to like you. If you are considering a romantic relationship, you might be thinking, “How do I tell someone how I feel about them?,” “How do I know if someone likes me?,” “What if I am rejected?,” or “How do I keep someone interested in me?” You may have the very same concerns about initiating or maintaining friendships. Guess what? For the most part, adults have a lot of similar struggles, which means you will be dealing with many of these issues for the rest of your life. Therefore, now is a perfect time to begin learning how to cope in these situations in healthy and effective ways that can lead to more meaningful, healthy and lasting relationships as well as develop stronger conflict resolution skills so that you can confront someone to solve a problem without being filled with worry and anxiety or getting caught up in the drama that others might try to suck you into.
It is very important to feel special and important, and it is also very normal to want be liked by your peers. Therefore, it is necessary to learn appropriate ways to engage with people so that you are not compromising yourself while trying to fit in, be liked, or make new friends. Getting comfortable with yourself is half of the battle. Working one-on-one with a therapist can help you to understand what it is you want most and then help you to determine healthy ways to achieve your desired outcome both personally and academically.