Born and bred a British, Shamima, 17, is all about creativity and self-expression. She wishes to pursue a career in Medicine and pursue her interests in poetry, fashion, writing and maybe in the distant future, property development.
Everything about teens, from their furious tirades for independence to their incredulous demands for privacy suggests an overwhelming sense of self. And so it follows that parents go out of their way to teach their teenagers the importance of giving, of consideration for others, the world does not revolve around you etc. While teenagers are taught the humane and essential art of being aware of your surroundings and the people in it, there grows an imperceptible neglect of the person within.
Teenagers are very aware individuals regardless of the common opinion. They are aware that you’re angry, upset, frustrated, worried, depressed but they don’t know what to do about it, or even whether they have the ability to make a difference. They are aware that if they make a mistake it will lower people’s impressions of them and that makes them just that bit more pathetic. They are blatantly aware that there are about several hundred students in their school/college who have stronger abilities than themselves and on receiving their grades, they are clouded by a heavy shadow of remorse because regardless of your reaction, they are aware that good results matter and inside you are yearning for your child to be the best.
This is not about being too harsh on your teenager, or about expecting too much of them, in fact this isn’t about parents at all. This is about teenagers and their perception of themselves.
During the short spell of my pre-teen years, I was obsessed with ‘personality’ quizzes, IQ tests; emotional intelligence/quizzes, zodiac profiles and the likes. It wasn’t the percentages I was concerned about; it was the detailed analysis that followed. Why?
There is one mystery that eats at us all in this period of our life, I hear you experience another as an adult; it’s called the Mid-Life Crisis. The cliché question, ‘Who am I?’
Unlike most other questions, this isn’t one that experts can fill you on in, in their articles and their books; it is one you have to figure out by yourself, for yourself. And it consumed me. I didn’t look them up deliberately, not to start with anyway, something drew me to it, I was intrigued and then I was hooked.
Perhaps, subconsciously, we are all searching for something that defines us as individuals, which sets us apart from everyone else and for a teenager, being truly aware of the specific non-material traits that make you who you are can be the key to a positive outlook and subsequently a healthier mind and a happy teenager.
To know who you are is to know your value as a person, is to be able to justify your very being, and is to be able to feel proud and contented to be you, even if you isn’t the top of the class, or the most athletic or talented in a particular area.
The shinning stars who carry distinguished beacons of their successes are the great mountains that cast their long shadows over their meeker peers, and most teenagers are demoralised and feel as though they are worthless, useless and low in comparison (internally). On the other hand, the person who values themselves understands that while some may be exceptional successes they can never be you. You are [as Katy Perry rightly sings] ‘original, cannot be replaced’. (KATY PERRY – FIREWORK).
You are you, and there is no one in the whole wide world who is better at being you, in fact there is no one quite like you at all.
If you work hard to find the small things that define you as a person, things that you can glow with pride about then it shouldn’t matter that there are many people who are achieving bigger, better things. Stop comparing yourself in a negative light. Stop trying to measure yourself up to others, compete, but compete with yourself. Strive to do better than you did before, strive to get higher than your first grade, strive to push yourself to your limit but mostly importantly strive to reach your full potential and find the light that burns inside of you.
Do yourself a favour, give yourself a chance.
I am writing this article because too many of my friends put themselves down and fail to see just how special they are. What’s more distressing is that there are far too many people who do not even give themselves an opportunity to do well. ‘What’s the point?’ I was asked. ‘It’s not like I’m going to get into Oxford’. Well of course you won’t, not with that attitude. Teenagers need to wake up and realise that when they allow themselves to put their mind and heart into something, anything is possible.
Optimism kills, I discovered that it doesn’t.