Here’s what I’ve seen from my teenagers – pressure, suffocating, self-doubting pressure. All kids, all people have tender hearts. Some just build bigger walls around them. It’s hard to be a teenager! For a teenager, there is pressure by their friends for every detail of life. There is pressure by their enemies. They feel pressure from strangers glancing at them in a store. There is pressure by their teachers. Pressure from coaches, from parents. And pressure they put on themselves.
I have some teenage readers sometimes on my blog. I hope you are listening to me. You are enough. Pressure in life is a thing – just like the sun comes up every morning. The good news is that you get to decide what you do with the pressure. I know it doesn’t feel like it. It doesn’t feel like you get to decide too many things at this point. But you do. You always get to decide how you feel, what you think, and how you act. And as long as you are following your heart and trying to find the right way for you – you are doing an amazing job! You’ll mess up! We all do!
Going in to my freshman year of high school, I had decided that I was not going to let high school be like middle school was for me. I was going to talk to people and make nice friends.
How did I feel? SCARED! Like, I seriously could have thrown up almost every morning. But I decided that feeling was not going to stop me. And every day I talked to someone and pushed myself out of my comfortable silence in the corner of the room. And the scared feeling started to go away.
What was I thinking? NO ONE WOULD LIKE ME! That was my thought. It was fairly justified. Not a lot of people liked me in middle school. I was teased and made fun of, or just shunned. But I decided those thoughts weren’t going to stop me. I knew I wasn’t as bad as the others said. And after a while, my thoughts changed as I learned how to ignore the ones who teased me and focus on the nice ones in the room.
How did I act? Oh my gosh, I tried to act as confident and cool as I could. I probably did not succeed as well as I wished. But, I tried.
Life is messy. Pressure is present. People will always talk and gossip. Some people just won’t like you – even as an adult. But life can be beautiful. Some pressure can be used to feed your drive in life. Some pressure needs you to choose to ignore it or fight it. You learn to ignore those who will always make up a reason to talk negatively. And I’ve found it helps a lot to forgive them and pray for them. The Bible says to pray for your enemies. When I was in school, I found that strange; but I did it anyway. There is wisdom in that.
Anger is consuming and steals away the positive parts of your day. If you pray for someone and forgive someone; that anger goes away. You can start to see the person for who they really are. Happy, strong people don’t go around throwing stones at others. Broken, troubled people do that. You get to choose to be one of the happy and strong ones.
Tonight I am thankful for my teenagers and tweenagers. They make comments about themselves sometimes to me. They seem to think they are a handful at times. And at times they are. But I wouldn’t trade this time with them for the world. I want them to learn to see and think beyond the things that enter their lives every day. They are more than this world knows. They are more than they, themselves know yet. But they will learn. And I will be here to remind them!
For those teenagers and tweenagers who aren’t mine – come talk to me. I see you too. I see the good things in your soul that the people in the hallways at school don’t see. You get to choose what things about yourself you let grow. I understand. In middle school I had let the fear rule too much of my life. It doesn’t have to be that way!