Facing the Challenges of Adolescence
Adolescence is a turbulent period for most people. Understandably so – you are saddled with decisions about career, lifestyle and sex. As a male child, it is even more difficult – you also have to make decisions about drugs, alcohol, family etc. You are under a lot of pressure to live up to society’s definition of ‘a man’. Planning life directions can be especially difficult if you are ill-equipped on how to deal with situations that you face.
In order to enjoy a crisis-free adolescence and emerge a responsible adult, it is paramount that you possess skills such as decision-making, assertiveness and goal-setting skills. You also need to be able to take charge of your life. The following tips will help you to do just that:
Know your values
Your values are what you believe in, what you think is right or wrong, and what is most important to you. Decisions that you’ll make will be based on your values. You draw your values from a variety of sources, such as parents, family friends, religion, etc. However, do not ‘borrow’ other people’s values – let your values be yours.
Draw up a plan for your life
Many successful people set targets for themselves and are goal-oriented. Have a plan of what you want and how to go about getting it. Never wait till you get to the bridge before looking for ways to cross it – decide ahead what you want achieved by the time you are 20, 35, 50 etc.
Your goals will remain dreams unless you develop yourself. Read books on diverse topics; gather facts about successful people and how they dealt with the difficult situation they faced. In short, broaden your horizon.
Have a role model
A role model is someone that you admire and respect; someone you look up to and want to be like. Choose a role model and deal with problems they way your role model would if he/she were faced with your problem. However, it is not advisable that you choose a TV star as your role model, because real-life is not usually as depicted in movies.
Decisions about career, sex, drugs and alcohol are usually some of the toughest decisions you will have to make as an adolescent. Before you make decisions, get facts about each choice, think properly about them, i.e. weigh the pros and cons; and discuss available options with your parents, a trusted friend or adult.
Being assertive means expressing your views about an issue without hurting the other person’s feelings. Behaviours that enhance assertiveness include honesty, speaking for yourself, communicating your feelings as they come up, instead of waiting; and being direct, i.e. use the “I” word. Communicate your feelings and don’t be cajoled into doing things contrary to your values. However, don’t be aggressive – aggressive behaviour shows a lack of concern for the other person’s feelings.
Learn a skill
The feeling that you have a skill is a positive one. There are various skills that you can learn – computer skills, teaching skills, writing skills, drawing skills or acting skills. These skills could in turn fetch you some money and give you some measure of independence. However, you must be ready to meet and overcome disappointments. You must be prepared to work as hard and as long as the situation demands.
Take advantage of holiday periods
Holiday periods are not meant only for fun and play – they are also a time to do something different from the routine school work. Holiday periods can be spent learning poetry, bookkeeping, car maintenance, interior decorating, etc; or acquiring knowledge about issues that range from wildlife and nature to politics and government. These you could do and still have fun.
Believe in yourself
Above all, believe in yourself. Many successful people are where they are today, because of the confidence they have in their abilities. Talking and thinking positively about yourself helps to achieve your goals faster. Believe you can rise above every difficult situation and make a success of them. Do not let negative comment from people set you back. Growing up is all about making decisions – some good, some bad. However, do not let bad decisions discourage you. A popular song sums it up: “there’s a hero if you look inside your heart.