As a teenager, you spend a good chunk of your learning time immersed in subjects such as algebra, history, biology and geography. But the march toward a successful and satisfying adulthood involves more than the ability to add numbers or read and analyze complex material (you’ve been waiting for someone to admit that – right?).
Equally vital are skills that help you develop character and give you the courage and fortitude to deal with the many challenges life will throw your way. During the time of immense physical, emotional and intellectual change of the adolescent years, it’s critical that you develop a belief in your own ability to succeed, a belief that God desires for you to succeed and a belief that He will help you succeed with the plan that He has set before you. If you truly believe you can perform well and can visualize a purpose for your future, you’ll be more likely to view difficult tasks as something to be mastered rather than something to be avoided.
Skills and values that will help lead you to a more satisfying life can range from respecting your parents to understanding that making mistakes is part of life. Here are just five of the many skills that can make a difference.
Learn to listen.
The willingness to listen is a direct reflection of how much you value other people. Being listened to reduces stress too. The best way to learn how to become a good listener is to have a mentor or other adult who consistently speaks wisdom into your life so you can intently listen to them. The ability to listen with intention and compassion creates and enhances qualities like curiosity, empathy and altruism. By learning to listen to others, you’ll inherently learn to hear God’s inner voice speaking to you as well. Through His guidance in your life, you’ll more readily understand His love for you.
Understand and manage stress.
Recent research indicates that the adolescent brain is highly sensitive to stress. It’s essential that you understand the role stress plays in your life and the difference between healthy and unhealthy outlets for handling that stress.
Healthy outlets for stress include the following:
- spending time with God
- creative pursuits
- venting anger through words and exercise in safe environments
Unhealthy outlets include:
- withdrawing and bottling up feelings
- overeating or restricting food
- inappropriate aggressive behavior
- relying on passive activities like TV and video games
- alcohol and drug use
- premature sexual activity and blaming others
By being able to deal with stress appropriately, you’ll come to terms with the significance stress has in your life. Often stress is not something that you purposefully inflict upon yourself. Satan brings about heavy burdens, and God wants to help you carry that load. Giving it to God and trusting Him with your troubles will free you from unnecessary hardship.
Our society has set an expectation that negativity will be obsolete once success is obtained. This idea sets you up for failure. Satan will always try to tear you down, especially as you grow closer to God. By embracing the truth that life is not always easy, you can realize healthy expectations rather than unrealistic ideals. Knowing that negativity is part of life and that it shouldn’t be bottled up, neglected or ignored will help you feel normal when facing life’s ups and downs. Once you grasp that negativity exists, all the other emotions that come along with it can be expressed in a healthy manner. Satan thrives on negativity, fear and anger, but the Holy Spirit desires kindness, gentleness, patience and peace. So, instead of holding onto anger and fear, let it go. Find relief by venting your anger and frustration and live in the fruitfulness of the Spirit.
Reject the victim mentality.
Many young people struggle at times with feeling like victims. That especially can be the case for those growing up in poverty. In reality, you are a victim to a society that is trying to mold you into something that you are not. You may have family members who have hurt or brutalized you. You may live in a high-stressed situation involving a single parent or a mixed family. Every day you’re confronted with harsh realities. The challenge is to separate your experience of literally being a victim from the tendency to develop a victim mentality. You can’t control the former, but you can control the latter. God will give you the strength you need to rise above the situation and pursue healing. Let Christ be your rescue and rely on Him to lift you out of the pit. He hears your prayers and He already has a plan set in motion to free you from your burdens.
You have a great appreciation for humor, who doesn’t? If you can’t laugh and poke fun with friends and family, then pursue a healthy relationship with a new friend or mentor who will allow you to embrace some friendly teasing. God has an extensive sense of humor, and He loves to see you laugh. By engaging friendships that promote positive humor, you’ll learn to trust people – helping you establish stronger, more well-rounded relationships. It’s important to learn to laugh at yourself. Life is funny, so welcome amusement.
While you’re preparing for Back-to-School, and you’re dreading another math class, think about all the valuable lessons you can learn in and out of the classroom all year long. God created you to be a strong, beautiful woman – go and be that person.