Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
If you were to think back over your life and find a period when you had the most social and emotional turmoil, what would it be? For me, it's definitely my teenage years. Junior High and High School aged kids are going through one of the most challenging parts of their development. They are growing into adult bodies, hormones are flooding their brains and bodies, the rules about so many things in life are changing. This is when you really start to think about who you are and who you want to be. Social life takes a huge amount of your time, thoughts and emotions.
If you watch a junior high school student, you can almost see them vacillate between grownup and child. Freedom and independence are nice, but responsibility and heightened expectations can be daunting. Mom is the most embarrassing person in the world one minute and the next, mom is the only one who can help. Do you still like barbies or are they so immature? It probably depends on the given moment.
I have always thought it would be so cool to go back and do high school over again, but this time, with the knowledge I have now as a *$ year old woman.
First of all, I would know that a lot of the things that seemed the most important, really aren't. I would know that I could relax and I would definitely have more fun. I wouldn't let my anxiety, shyness and need to be perfect, hold me back. If I could talk to the beautiful, smart girl, I would tell her that even though you think they are, everyone is not making fun of you. They don't all think you are weird and quiet and bitchy. In reality, a lot of them are probably too busy with their own anxieties and worries to even notice you. Some of them probably like you and would like to be your friend but don't know how to do it. One embarrassing moment is not the end of the world. You don't have to do what everyone else does. You can be you and love you and others will think that's pretty cool, if you do it with a little confidence.
I can't go back and have a redo, but I can apply those things I learned, to who and where I am now. I can tell the next generation of teen girls what I have learned. I can show them how great they are. I can tell them they are beautiful and talented. I can encourage them to go for it. I can help them slog through the social and emotional obstacle course. I can tell them over and over that they will be ok. Things really do get better. What an opportunity!
This is why I adore working with teen girls. They are open and vulnerable and looking for a guide. They are amazing. They are at the beginning of a great adventure. I love being there for them, with them. Even if they make big mistakes, grownup mistakes, things really can turn out ok. And best of all I get to show them how imperfect I am and that I still love myself. I can show them that perfect is boring and not real. The best parts of people are their likes and dislikes, their quirks, their passions. So let them shine.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.