Are you a teenager? Are you dissatisfied with your life? Do you have a low self-esteem? Do you feel it’s important to prove your self-worth to your peers and others? Do you feel the need to keep up with the Jones? Are you afraid of what others will think of you if you lack their lifestyles? If you answered ‘yes’ to most or all of these questions, you must keep in mind: There is life beyond today.
When I was a teenager, I was in a rage to do as much as possible as soon as possible. It first began with landing a job. Then, there was the talk about students going out and partying. Like many others, I was a true music lover and wanted to collect as many albums (or tapes) as I possibly can afford. My thinking was, if I don’t get a particular album pretty soon, I’ll never own it. False! If I could only talk to myself back then, I would tell my teen, “There is life beyond today.”
Destructive Thinking of Teens
Oftentimes teens set high standards for themselves that are rather unrealistic. This may mean purchasing an expensive car as a Mercedes Benz. Those with outlandish goals or self images aim to acquire a lofty lifestyle that not even their parents have. They never even stop to analyze why their parents don’t live the way they’d like to. Once teens believe there is a way to get these things, they’ll go after them with great vigor. Some will believe, “If (name of person) has this, I should be able to get that too.”
The earlier the age teens accomplish things, the better their reputations will be. Such things are dating, sexual intercourse, leaving home and moving in with friends or lovers, partying, taking mood altering drugs, going into business, buying expensive items, getting tattoos or body piercings, getting married, etc. Again, if there’s a way they can accomplish these things, they’ll seek it out. Perhaps, this makes them a superior person. That means peers will think they’re extra special and earn their admiration. Is all of this necessary to inflate their self-esteem? Absolutely not!
Teens that attempt to rush into the adult world too soon encounter tremendous problems. Little do they know how undereducated and inexperienced they are. All they’re concerned about is enjoying life more and building a superficial self-image. Some male teens want the image of a tough guy or macho man and will do things to prove their manhood. Women, on the other hand, feel the need to look beautiful and slim. Some may fear that if they weigh a few extra pounds, they won’t get dates or asked to the prom.
Some teens are extremely restless. They feel an ongoing tension to try to pursue the things they want and feel they deserve. When they run into problems in life, they may feel cursed and perhaps, not meant to have what they want. While some may want to give up, others persist towards their goals. Those who do, have little or no patience and act with great rage and anger. Some are so selfish, they don’t care who they might have to hurt or put out just to get what they want.
The bottom line: Teens today are spoiled brats-unless they’re raised right.
When I Was a Teen…
About 35 years ago, I was in my teens. I remember those days, perhaps, too well! I was angry a lot and felt cursed if I ran into problems. Worst of all, I was greedy and selfish and didn’t care who I had to set back just to get what I wanted. Now I regret such behavior and feel that I might be still paying the price.
At the same time, I was somewhat living in a fantasy world. I grew up in a material family with four other teens and a young adult, all who felt that they must have nice things or others would think they’re inferior. I didn’t have the need for an exotic lifestyle, which was out of the question anyway, I felt that having a nice stereo system and a huge record collection was the most important thing in the world-nothing else mattered.
My older siblings loved rock music and felt they must have the same and unlike me, they were able to afford it. It was like, to be cool, you had to listen to hard rock and crank the music really loud on a high quality stereo system. I couldn’t agree more.
What did this conditioning do to me? I became extremely obsessed with music. Almost every dollar I made had to go to buying records and tapes. I could never have enough music. All I would ever think about and talk about was music. I would spend at least two hours each day playing my stereo. My family members would get tired of me always listening to or talking about music.
On Saturdays, I would buy used 8-track tapes at a flea market nearby. Even if I was down to my last few dollars, if I could find a cheap album, I just had to buy it. I guess you can say I was like an alcoholic who didn’t care about anyone or anything except how he was going to get his next bottle.
Enough of that! The point is, I felt that if I didn’t have a particular album, I might never own it in my whole lifetime. I should’ve been told: There is life beyond today.
Vienna Waits For You
So the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” The point of the song: Vienna Waits For You, simply says there is no hurry to get to where you feel you need to go. Hence, you have your whole life to become the person you want to be. If I could go back in time, these are things I would tell myself:
- Don’t compare yourself to others: This is one of the most evil traps you can fall into. It is natural to want things others have-most commonly, possessions. One of my brothers was obsessed with nice cars and envied his friends for theirs. The point is that some people are more fortunate than you. Those with nicer items may have resources that you lack. Either they know the right people or have wealthy families.
- You can’t do what you can’t do: Sure enough, you’ll be conditioned by the people around you. You’ll hear people say things to make you think they have grandiose lifestyles. When I was in high school, it was partying. Kids were going out, getting drunk and stoned, and having a blast. I wanted to do that also. Little did I realize I was playing against a stacked deck. Still, I persisted in trying to get into the party life any way I could. I would ask around, trying to find parties. That only made me make a fool of myself. I felt rather pathetic and worthless because I was lonely on the weekends. Instead, I should have ditched my efforts to party and find worthwhile things to do.
- Break each goal into small tasks: There is nothing wrong with wanting something really nice. In fact, it’s totally natural. This may be, for example, purchasing a home theater system or becoming a straight A student. Whatever it is, don’t expect to somehow achieve your goal overnight. Therefore, you must break your goal into smaller pieces. In the first example, find a home theater you can afford. Next think about ways you can earn the money to buy it. Finally, think about when you would like to purchase it.
- Never be in a hurry to do anything: Slow down and relax. There is nothing in this world you need RIGHT NOW! Some teens don’t seem to realize it and become stressed, get uptight, and urge those they know to help them immediately. It’s not good to hound your parents for the money to get what you want or even take your stress out on others. Also, if you should rush into doing something, there is a great likelihood you will make a move you will regret later. You are prone to make bad decisions or forget to plan properly and the result will, more likely than not, end in disaster. For example, you may have the urge to buy a used car because you feel you need it TODAY! Once you get the money, you may become overly eager to hand it over to the owner and drive off without even inspecting the car.
- Nothing worthwhile comes easy: There is a high price for attaining the finer things in life. In some cases, the price may be so high it will make your hair stand up on end. For example, if you want to become captain of your school’s football team, you’ll need to develop proficient playing skills. On the other hand, if you want to become a beautiful model, you will have to spend more money on cosmetics, skin care products, and clothing than you realize. Most every good skill or trait takes years of practicing and conditioning. Nothing good ever happens out of the blue.
- Consider your health: Sure, you may have the urge to go out and have some fun-that’s perfectly natural. You may find yourself engaging in dangerous activities or adult-oriented forms of entertainment. You must remember that you’re not indestructible, just because you never had any major health problems. One prime example is under-aged drinking or smoking. Doing these things may make you feel ecstatic and cool but will hinder your body or brain development. Just because you don’t feel any adverse affects now doesn’t mean you never will. Health problems are not just for the elderly. Abusing your body will make you unhealthy years later.
- Accept your life as it is: You must learn to love yourself as you are. So you may lack the skills and or possessions of those you admire. All you can do is try your best at whatever you do. No one can ask any more from you than that. After all, you may not be as fortunate as others in ways. Maybe you weren’t brought up in an environment that promotes the traits your friends may have. For example, if your friend is able to bench press heavy weights but you can’t, it is likely that he’s been weight training for years, but you haven’t. Still, you have qualities he doesn’t. Concentrate more on them and use them creatively to your advantage. Find ways to improve your life.
When I look back on my teenage years I wish someone had told me all these things. If I could go back, I would print up and give myself this blog and urge me to read it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the Internet back then and our resources were rather limited. By just reading this, imagine how much better my life could have been.
- Helping teens build esteem (imconfident.wordpress.com)
- Positive Role Modeling for Teens (parentingwithallthepieces.typepad.com)
- Teens and credit? No way. (bestcreditrepaircompanys.com)
- Helping Teens deal with Peer Pressure (lisaorchard.wordpress.com)
- Teen Binge Drinking: All Too Common (psychologytoday.com)