If you came across this as an adult, look away. This is not for you. Or wait. You might be a parent or aspiring one. You may read on. The rules just got tweaked for you.
For the most part of your teenage years in this age, you are not an adult yet and no longer a child but everyone expects you to behave like an adult and act nothing like a child. It’s difficult because I have been there. Done that.
It’s difficult because before now you had a different perspective of the world and it is not what you thought it was supposed to be. Everything changes quite abruptly. Everything changes markedly but you. There is the constant pressure from your parents and adults alike. There is also peer pressure hanging in the corners of your life to deal with. And there is just you – an inexperienced young one begging to be saved temporarily.
As a child you have this gorgeous illusion of the world. Your parents are shielding you significantly from the perils of external factors. You think the world is perfect and why not? It is how it appears to you at this time. And more often than not you are deeply buried in the chasm of your comfort zone, wallowing but not quite consumed. It is the dream.
As you get older a little of your parents’ protection falls off. In some cases you have to go away for high school or university and you are alone. Alone in a world that does not care if you have potatoes for breakfast or sandwich for dinner. Alone in a world that keeps moving regardless of if you choose to stand still or not. Alone in a world whose emotions are non-existent on a grand scale and you don’t seem to understand why.
At this stage in your life you expect to have substantial amount of control over your life but you are not quite having it. You were not born with a manual. Sometimes you want to troubleshoot and figure out so many things all at once but you don’t know what to do. Welcome to your teenage years. Have a sit.
The teenage years are going to be some of the most difficult part of your life not because other stages are easier but because you are least prepared for this stage. It is when winter catches up with you on your summer clothes. It is one of the coldest stages of your life and that’s okay.
But more importantly, your teenage years are some of the most significant parts of your existence. This is when you model your life into what you would want it to look like in tens of years into the future. This is when you have to build the foundation of your future self. And guess what? You are not a builder, not yet. But you must learn in the storm or cease to exist with it.
In your teenage years you find yourself. You were never missing to clarify things. But you had no complete knowledge of the kind of person you are and still that’s okay. Nobody knows the entirety of a mansion by a cursory ten seconds look!
Now let us do a little imagination, shall we? We are on a trip to your dream island. I am your trip guide because obviously I am conversant with the place. All your life you have wanted to visit this place and in a few days you will. Insane. Unreal. Iconic.
You wake up in the morning earlier than you usually do because never in your life would you forgive yourself should you miss this trip by oversleeping. You rush into the bathroom and rush out faster than you went in begging to be asked if you thoroughly scrubbed yourself. In a few minutes you are ready. Your parents drop you at the airport. I pick you up at the other end. Welcome to where you have wanted to be all your life.
As we get off into an empty space to begin our tour, you turn around and realize I am not there. You call out my name but my name has changed. I will not answer. I am not there. You are alone. Find yourself. That is your teenage years.
One way or the other except you are planning to die you would have to get going and adapt to your present predicaments. Whether you call the police or ask a stranger for directions is up to your discretion. But you must do something. At this point because you have not prepared for this situation in the way it has presented itself and because you now have to make decisions in the presence of adrenaline, you will make mistakes.
Now this is a coin. You can either do one of the two or both. There is no escape. Either you make the mistakes others have already made or you learn from theirs and make new ones.
Either way you will make mistakes and it is part of the learning curve. You cannot learn without making mistakes and virtually nobody tells you this. Everyone you will meet will expect you to have your life all figured out. Everyone will remind you that you are no longer a child and you are now an adult. But nobody will tell you that even adults make mistakes. Nobody will tell you that because you have literally no experience of the world you are allowed to make honest mistakes and so you will keep kicking yourself till your legs wear out and degenerate and afterwards you will continue with your fist.
During this stage, you do not have an idea of what you want to become. Your parents might have predetermined options. They might want you to become a doctor while you are not sure you can stand nagging patients or persistent drugs smell. And because this is the model of the world they have built for you an arranged marriage is set in place. But what they fail to understand is that arranged marriages are bound to fail except when they do not. And on the odds that they do not fail they are not the optimum and you deserve better.
In your teenage years nobody tells you that because you are diligently trying to design a better version of yourself you are allowed to try many great options. They expect you to randomly shoot at the skies and make a star fall. But life is not a jackpot where you guess at random and instantly win. Life is life with ups and downs and you can’t have the ups without tasting the downs too.
There is the bombshell. Teenage years are usually not enough to find yourself. Heck you may not find yourself during this period. For some, your 20s might be an extension of finding yourself for others even more. It is alright. You are not weird. Some people don’t find themselves till they are 40.
Life is not a horse-race. Life is like playing golf by yourself, alone and in your own golf course. Depending on who you are, you don’t stop till you put the ball in the hole and it doesn’t matter if another man in his golf course does that before you. You do not care. It is your golf course. You will get it if you try hard enough.
As a teenager, do not let the chaos of the world drown you. As a parent stop putting unnecessary pressure on teenagers. Allow them find themselves. Help them how you can. Trust me being a teenager is already difficult enough. And remember your teenage years is like playing golf in your golf course. You will get to your aims if you try hard enough. Do not let external pressure make you cave in.
You are human. You will bleed when you fall and rise when it clots. You will keep running. You will get to your destination. You will win because you are a winner and that is what winners do. Now go easy with the worries you create for yourself and go hard on life.
Published by Etenwa Manuel