Growing up is difficult. It feels like everyone expects teens to have it all figured out when in reality, their lives are just beginning. Pick a sport. Pick a hobby. Pick a career path. Pick a college. Pick a major. Pick the right clothing. Pick the right friend group. Pick the right mindset. Pick your life’s path after living on this planet for only 17 years. No wonder kids today are so stressed out. But do teens really need to succumb to these pressures? Absolutely not.
The Dangers of Comparison
Sometimes finding your way can be difficult. Most people don’t wake up one morning and decide what they will do with the rest of their lives. It takes time, experience, and self-reflection to get to a place of choice. Comparing ourselves to others can cause this life task to become far more daunting and halt our progress because we get lost in someone else’s dreams. At times, these comparisons can make us feel defeated and emotionally shut down because when we turn away from our truth, things begin to hurt. It’s in this space that addiction looks for land and builds a home. From here, it can become a slippery slope. We alter our looks, our perspectives, our mindset, and our choices to fit the will of others. When we do this, we begin to lose ourselves. One day, we wake up and look in the mirror to find a stranger. It’s almost as if we are looking in one of those distorted fun-house mirrors, and the more we try to make ourselves look “normal”, the stranger things seem to appear. We can become depressed, anxious and use in those moments to fill the void of purpose and self. So, how are we supposed to start the process of knowing? It’s easier than you think. We don’t look to the world, to friends, or our families. This process starts with the self. It means taking a deep dive inside our minds to discover who we are and what we want. We don’t have to figure it all out by 18, but we do need to get the ball rolling.
Figuring out what we want takes time, but we can start the process by having an honest conversation with our heart. Ask yourself some of these questions, and see if they spark an internal conversation:
- What makes you happy?
- What brings you joy?
- What skills do you have?
- What can you see yourself doing in the future?
o What’s one step I can take to get there?
- What hobbies could I use to connect to my future?
- Which parts of myself am I afraid to show the world?
o Why? Maybe one or all of these questions provoke an internal conversation. If not, check out these examples. Jayden has been hanging out with the same friend group since first grade. His friend, Bobby, is going to take over his father’s local hardware store. He’s known it since he was a kid. Bobby is excited. He’s ready to have the freedom of running a business and ready to start a family in the town where he grew up. Isaiah, on the other hand, has been itching to get out of their small town and go play football at a big school. He’s working hard to get into Texas Tech and won’t let anything stop him from living his dream. But Jayden has no idea what he wants to do. Moving away scares him, but he feels his hometown is stagnant. He doesn’t have a physical skillset like Isaiah, and he doesn’t have a career path to follow like Bobby. The closer they get to graduation, the more depressed Jayden feels. He believes he is stuck and has nothing to offer the world. Then there’s Treyshaun, who feels hopeless. He’s tried to ponder these questions before, but to no avail, he feels he has nothing to offer the world. What Treyshaun doesn’t realize is that his passion for music could be a great starting point. While he feels he’s not good enough to be a famous musician, he forgets the other options: music production, working for a radio station, learning the ins and outs of running a concert venue, and so much more. The problem is that Treyshaun feels he has no one to reach out to, and because of his anxiety, he stays in his room playing video games. What if Treyshaun reached out to a teacher or guidance counselor at school, talked with one of his friends/family members, or visited a career counselor to learn about the different options out there based on his likes and dislikes? What if Jayden stopped comparing his life to his friends’? What if he realized he could take some classes at the local university and give himself more time and freedom to think? What if his dream life is waiting just beyond his fear? These options aren’t always available to us, but there are people all over this planet that are trained to help us move forward. Sometimes that help is only one step outside of our comfort zone.
The Inner Work
It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to take time. And it’s okay if your decisions about life are constantly changing but sitting in our rooms hiding won’t bring us any closer to finding our path. It may seem scary but taking the first step towards our internal truths can help us find the steps we need to take externally. And sometimes, it’s not about finding the path we want; it’s about realizing what we don’t want. Eventually, with some soul-searching, everyone, including you, will find their way. The only constant you need is believing in yourself, even if that feels impossible at times.
We don’t need to forge our path alone. That’s where Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center can help. Using proven methods for addiction and individualized treatment plans, the staff at Stonewater can help create the path that’s right for you. If you or an adolescent you know is struggling to find their way through addiction, depression, and anxiety, reach out today: (662) 478-946