If you are a teenager who feels that no one understands, or that your parents are unfair, or that people are holding you back, this column is dedicated to you.
Many of you face some pressures that previous generations did not. But in spite of that, there are still many people older than you who understand the difficulties that come your way. Don't be quick to write them off.
If you can hear them out - if you can listen to what they say - they will tell you how to make it through tough times and will provide some rock-solid insights that you can count on. They can help you find clear guidance if you will remember the following.
First, there are many individuals who understand your situation, even when it feels like no one does. Every adult knows what it is like to be a teenager. They may not know every detail of what you face, but generally speaking, they've gone through teenage years and even handled some things that you haven't. Don't sell adults short. For the most part, parents understand you, grandparents understand you, teachers understand you, coaches understand you, and ministers understand you. In addition, you need to give your parents a break and not hold it against them for loving you. They do some things that you may not appreciate or understand at this time but you can trust their judgment.
Go to reliable people for help. This is important. It is a bit ironic that the most reliable people in a teenager's life are adults, yet when teenagers are upset they often talk to other teenagers. Listen. There is nothing wrong at all with having good friends to lean on, especially during difficult times. But if you only talk to others who don't understand things any more than you do, you miss out on some very good advice. Listen to the adults in your life. They really do know some things that you don't.
Realize that your own feelings can lead you astray. It is perfectly normal to feel afraid growing up. You may fear others laughing at you. You might be afraid of being rejected by others your age. You may be embarrassed in front of others or by something one of your parents did. You may be angry inside because of things that have happened in your life or in your family. You may have had your heart broken by a girlfriend or boyfriend. Don't let those emotions overrun you. If your feelings take over your thinking, you will get bitter inside, and it will contaminate your relationships with others. When that happens, you would likely have trouble getting along with anyone. That's not what you really want, is it?
Every day doesn't have to be a fight. This is another area where controlling your emotions is important. Don't let anger get the best of you. If you don't like what happened or what someone did, you have to deal with it in a reasonable manner. Calm yourself down. Choose a pathway of peace. You can find someone to get in to a confrontation with every day if you want, but don't. You want a happy life; not one in which others don't want to be around you.
Stop blaming others. A wise person once said the person who always blames others doesn't have an accurate view of reality. And that's because the idea that something is always someone else's fault isn't reality. Reality is that difficult times happen to everyone. They are the result of unfortunate circumstances or bad choices. Sometimes someone else might actually deserve the blame, but only rarely is that the case.
Admit where you are wrong. Is it likely that in every disagreement you are the one who is right and the other person is always wrong? Think about that. When we are completely honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that at times we are the one who was at fault. When we all admit our shortcomings, the world is a better place. You should apologize regularly and seek forgiveness when you have wronged someone. If you can never ever admit you are wrong, you will have fewer friends, or no friends.
In practically every situation during your teenage years, things aren't really as bad as you feel they are. If you let your emotions get the best of you, things will look worse. If you allow yourself to get in to a confrontation with everyone, things will feel worse. If you think everyone else is to blame, your perception will be worse and you will find it difficult to cope. But in reality, things are usually not as bad as you think. All you need to do is master your emotions, remember the reasons you have to smile, think clearly, listen to good advice, and genuinely appreciate those who love you. When you can do that, life tends to look better all around.
David Wilson, EdD, is one of the assistant principals at Jefferson City High School. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.