I don’t consider myself an expert in anything. I’m good at a number of things: ping pong, typing, memorizing movie quotes, stringing words together into a sentence, giving unsolicited advice – but I’m not an expert, by any stretch of the imagination.
So, as I write this guest post about teen angst, I’m a little concerned you will think I’m some professional, and you should follow my advice instead of seeing a therapist, or a guidance counselor. I’m not. If you’re suffering severely, get some professional help. But if you’re just trying to get through the daily grind of your teenage years, here are some pearls of wisdom from someone who has been there.
Take it for what it’s worth.
Speaking from my own experience, angst can be dangerous. It’s defined by Webster’s as a ‘state of anxiety,’ and there was a time in my early teens when I was very anxious about a lot of things. My family life was falling apart at the seams, and because of this I was unable to focus on school, and therefore, my grades dropped dramatically, I grew depressed, I internalized all of these unspoken feelings, and as a result, I contemplated suicide. For many teens out there, this kind of anxiety is overwhelming to the point of being deadly.
There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel. However difficult it is for a teen to imagine, much like the trailers and anti-bully campaigns say, ‘it does get better.’ As time progresses, as life goes on, as you and those around you grow and change, you eventually reach a point in your life when that terrible and horrible anxiety and angst from long ago is no longer so all-consuming and earth-shattering. You succeed by enduring.
You might be saying, ‘that’s dandy, but how does that help me NOW?’ It doesn’t. And here is my completely unprofessional, but experience-ridden advice, from a person who once kept a bottle of pills under her bed just in case she needed a quick get away…(Which I don’t recommend – by the way!)
1) Find a muse
Some people sing. Some people draw. Some people dance. Some people game. You don’t have to be the best at it – you just have to love it. This creative release, in my case, was music and writing, and they were instrumental in giving me a healthy escape from the terrors inside my household. Try skateboarding. Ride bikes. Swim. Play an instrument. Join a book club. Act in a play. I’m not joking in the slightest. Find something else to DO while everything else is crashing down. Take it from one who knows: it helps.
2) Get a day planner
Again, I’m not fooling. Part of my problem with coping with my home life was the fact that I was totally and completely disorganized. It wasn’t until I got into my late teens that a very wise advisor taught me how to create an hourly time manager, so I could plan when I was studying, when I was eating, when I was sleeping, when I was at rehearsal or when I was writing – you name it, I put it on the calendar. I felt in control. I was on top of it. My grades improved because I was able to plan out when certain assignments would get completed. It doesn’t have to be digital, you can make one yourself on a piece of notebook paper. But I totally recommend a weekly, hourly breakdown, so you can get a grip on all that needs to be done. And here’s a free tip: don’t forget to add in travel time!
3) Find someone to talk 100% honesty
It can be a best friend. It can be a school counselor. It can be an Aunt or Uncle. A spiritual advisor. A therapist. Your Mom or Dad. There has to be at least 1 person who you can bare all honesty, and be true to the truth. That someone, when they ask, ‘How are you today?’ that you won’t just blow sunshine and say, ‘Fine!’ when you feel like dirt. This is a hard person to find. You kind of have to audition them. Find one person, give them a taste of 100% you-truth, and wait a week to see what they do with it. If it stays with them, and they don’t blab it all over, or start to treat you differently, try it again and see if they can do the same. If you find this person, you have found gold, and you should treat them as such. Don’t lose hope. These people exist. They can be hard to find at times. But keep trying – because once you find someone like this – your whole perception of what’s really true, changes. No joke. It’s pretty amazing.
As I said before, I’m no expert on anything. But I’ve been around the block, suffered a few blows in life (a few of them are in my new book SHUT UP), so take my advice to heart, and never give up.
Like food poisoning, teen angst doesn’t last forever. It’s just while you’re in the middle of it, that it blows chunks.