One of my teenage relatives was recently having a rough time of things.
This is what I would say to her (and my high school self).
I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and already know: life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I think, a teen’s life can have extra bits of unfair-ness. First, there is school. Don’t even get me started on school. You can read about why school sucks here, here, and here. Then there is the fact that you’re almost sort-of an adult but not really. You are given tastes of freedom and independence but none of the trust or respect to go with it. “Be an adult. Stop acting childish” but also “Listen to me. Do what I say. You live under my roof, you have no rights.” This is in addition to the pressure and expectations of everyone around you: friends, teachers, parents, relatives, your church, your culture, the media, etc. And as the cherry on top are all of the ‘normal’ things in life that suck: trauma, abuse*, hardship, death, etc. What I’m trying to say here is that, generally, a teen’s life can really suck. And when your life has a tendency to suck, you tend to have a few bad days (or weeks or months or…).
This is for those times. The bad days. First, I’m going to give you some advice my mom gave me (yes, parents do actually know something from time to time): you can’t change anyone but yourself. Another gem from the old lady: what other people think about you is none of your business. And lastly: don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides (this includes the crap people post on Facebook). These three statements have profoundly changed the way I look at myself and the world.
© 2016 Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.
Secondly, when I’m having a bad day, I know it’s time to get back to the basics:
- FOOD : Am I eating often enough? Am I eating good, healthy foods? How can I prevent ‘hangry‘ moments?
- WATER : Am I drinking enough water? How can I always have water accessible to me?
- SLEEP : Am I getting enough sleep? Is it good quality sleep? How can I improve the quality of my sleep?
- MOVEMENT : Am I moving my body almost everyday? Is it enjoyable? If not, how would I enjoy moving and strengthening my body?
- OUTDOORS : Am I getting enough time in the sun (and therefore, Vitamin D)? Am I getting enough time in nature? How can I get outside more?
- MEDITATION : Am I spending enough time alone? Do I make time to deal with my big emotions? Do I make time to get in touch with myself and figure out who I am and what I want? Do I listen to my inner wise voice?
- SELF-EXPRESSION : Am I making time to express myself in a way that feels true to my soul? Even if I’m not going to share it with another living person, it still needs to be expressed.
What I’ve just listed is essentially radical self care. And contrary to popular belief, caring for yourself is not selfish. It’s like they say on an airplane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else put on theirs. And let me tell you – self care isn’t easy. Change takes time and you will fall of the wagon. Be kind and gentle with yourself and just get back on. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or get creative.
And if all else fails, get some perspective: read a book, make a list of what you’re grateful for, help someone else, give back, focus on what you do have. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than high school and you are stronger, wiser, braver, and more resilient and powerful than you know. Hang in there – I promise you it will get better.
Oh, and one final thing:
YOU ARE VALUED.
YOU ARE NEEDED.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
YOU ARE LOVED.
All my love,
*If you are currently in an abusive situation, I urge you to seek help. Please call one of the hotlines on this page. You will get through this. You will survive.