Tough Being A Teen

Many people will tell you that the teen years can be the greatest years of your life. They can be — but they can also be the roughest.


One of the most difficult things abut them is that you’re supposed to go from being a child to being an adult in just a few years.  We’re going to talk about what people mean when they say “grow up.” Maybe if you realized how much is involved, you’d get less uptight about not doing a perfect job of everything you try. We’ll also talk about some of the things you can do to make the job of “growing up” a little easier.

There are five basic things that you’re expected to do as you’re passing from childhood to adulthood. One of them is to accept your body and learn to use it effectively. All teens go through a period when they’re self-conscious about their bodies. They worry about things like how slowly –or quickly — they’re developing physically. They wonder about their appearance. Weight or skin problems add to their worries. To learn to accept your body and features, be realistic about the way you do look. Try not to compare yourself with others, but look at your own pattern of growth as unique. Learn to care for your body. Participate in sports and other physical activities in order to use it effectively. For more information on ways to accept your body and to use it effectively, you might want to call two other tapes. They are “Becoming The Person You’d Like To Be,” and “Are You Unhappy With The Way You Look?”

Another thing expected of you during your teen years is that you establish your own sexual identity, and develop more mature relationships with members of both sexes. When you were a kid, most of your friends were probably the same sex as you are. But now, you’re expected to develop friendships with members of the opposite sex, too. This gets a bit complicated at times. While you’re learning to accept your own sexuality, you’re also expected to make friends with members of the opposite sex. But once you’ve got some friends of both sexes, you’ll start to feel comfortable with your own sexual identity. The more friendships you have with members of both sexes, the more information you’ll have which will help you define your own sexual identity.

Becoming emotionally independent is another big task facing you right now. As a kid, you depended on your parents to fill all of your emotional needs. But now you’re faced with the challenge of getting love, understanding, respect and support from people other than your parents. While you’re learning how to do this, you may run into problems at home. It’s often hard for parents to let go, and for teens to grow emotionally independent of their parents without hassles.

Another thing you’re supposed to be doing right now, too, is to prepare yourself to become financially independent in a few years. This means deciding on the job or career you want, and preparing for it. But first, you have to identify your goals in life. These goals should reflect your interests, abilities, and values. Trying to get ready to become financially independent can put tremendous pressure on you — but it’s just one of the big things you’re faced with during your teen years.

And, finally, you’re expected to develop your own personal set of beliefs– in other words, your own value system. This means sifting through all the beliefs that your family, teachers, your church and society, in general, have taught you are important and valuable. and then choosing the ones that mean the most to you personally The beliefs that will probably mean the most to you are those that will let you live in peace with yourself and others. Trying to find a balance between values that express your inner feelings and those that society expects us to have can often create problems. For example, if you think going to church isn’t important, but your parents do, it can really become a hassle. Maybe it would help if you let your parents know that you understand their concern, but that you need time to explore your own reasons for going to church. And that if you do decide to go to church, it will be for reasons you believe in. For the rest of your life, you’ll be trying in ways like this to create a balance between doing what you believe in and what others expect you to do — but when you’re just starting out to develop your own personal set of beliefs, it can be rough on you emotionally.

We’ve said that the teen years can be difficult because you’re expected to do a lot of growing up in a few short years. We named five things that you yourself, your parents, and society expect you to do. They are: accepting your body and learning to use it effectively, establishing a sexual identity, becoming emotionally as well as financially independent and developing your own value system.

All of these expectations can sometimes seem like too much to cope with You may get down on yourself because you think you’re not doing as well as you should. Just remember that you’re facing an awfully big job, and nobody expects you to get it done all at once without any mistakes. Who knows — someday you must might look back on your teen years as the greatest years of your life.


For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.