Being a teen is not an easy place to be. It is a time of many changes. The body is maturing and the sex drive begins to surge, while other body parts are developing. These changes may be ones you like or you compare yourself to others unfavorably. How you look, how you dress, acne, and other uncomfortable problems arise and can make you unhappy. Normal.
It is a period where you want to be accepted and fit in. Being part of a group becomes extremely important and there is a variety of groups. Hopefully the one you like accepts you. If not deviant groups or standing alone or lonely may result. These reactions stay with us for life often and many are painful emotionally. They leave scars that repeat in our heads for a lifetime, especially when we meet people like the ones that hurt us, when we become older.
A big development takes place within the family.
Here it is no quick task but an appropriate one…to emotionally separate from parents. If there is only one parent that task becomes somewhat impossible because then you are truly alone.
If there are two parents, they can help one another and you. You can separate fiercely with big fights, or leaving, or with arguments over anything, but especially rules and values.
It’s the old story where the parent asks, “Where are you going?” The teen replies, “Out.”
The parent says, “Have a good time.” The teen responds, “You’re always telling me what to do!” BUT this is your beginning of life as a grown up.
It takes time and with time and parental understanding, you will come through it with love and MUTUAL respect. The dangers during this time in life include too much alcohol, drug experimentation or having sex when you are not really ready for it. All of these temptations may be hard to fight off or they may be used to be liked and accepted but they may not help you in the long run. In fact, some of it can damage you for life, and some can grow into real adult problems.
What you do during this adolescence and especially late adolescence sets the stage for the rest of your life. Yes, things can be changed but it is harder later on. If there are major issues, talking to a professional therapist or counselor often helps. There are also teen groups available in many communities that are really a source of help. I used to run them and saw firsthand how one sentence from another teen could do what we therapists and parents could not accomplish in years. Teens listen to other teens. The part to be careful about is that teens also need information and often can’t get good information, especially about sex.
I will address this whole issue by itself at another time. With the Internet now however all, this may be easier. Having a close friend or sibling to confide in will help. Sometimes just being alone, listening to music, hanging out, or keeping a journal may offer comfort. Getting through it is the goal and there will be ups and downs.
If you think that, you may be gay or transgendered that can also be a heavy burden during these years. Having worked and written a book on transsexuals I know how they suffer during adolescence. And working with gay teens was no picnic hearing their struggles.
This is a period of transition, much of it will be done alone, and in your own head, which may be just fine. If you get really unhappy, some of that is normal but if it lasts a while, over months, then seek help. No need to suffer or cause permanent damage. There is help out there. Many suicides take place with teenagers and many because of lack of understanding and acceptance of who they are. Sad.
Just remember, this is a temporary state. While some people remain adolescents all their lives for most of us we move on to young adulthood, which is not so turbulent, and we have some things worked through. Finding love or testing it during these years is a big step.
How do you know if you are desirable, how to connect with someone, what to do next are all issues. What to do if they don’t call or ask you out again or reject you are not easy things to deal with. How to break up? What if jealousy makes you crazy?
All of this is normal, sometimes awful to go through but these experiences, mainly with the opposite sex, are your “training wheels” and the more experience the better for preparing you for when the “real” thing comes along. So, there is no way to avoid it but know this too will pass with time.