Anxiety and uneasiness is more often than not a common experience in youth. Anxiety could be considered an inevitability for anyone and everyone, prolonged anxiety, for long periods of time, can be debilitating or taxing in one’s daily life.
Anxiety is not a necessary addition to life, though it can be hard to avoid, or hard to deal with when it strikes. In the life of an adolescent, anxiety can affect health, grades, and most importantly, a child or adolescent’s sense of well being. Paradoxically enough, Anxiety at this age can offer be a consequence of grades, while it is a surefire way to affect grades themselves.
At this point in an individual’s life, the adolescent must reconcile with changes in themselves, changes in their peers and social groups, and this stretch of the journey of life is often considered the most difficult, or the most riddled with stress and anxiety.
A common theme for individuals at this point in life, is a feeling that something is missing. True, that at the age of adolescence, the child is no longer an offshoot of his parents, but an independent entity who, whether actively or not, has a dormant desire to actualize this break, or an inner battle in which the individual must reconcile with the inevitability of this break if it causes anxiety or is unwanted. This “loss’ in itself is a legitimate experience as a part of the individuals coming of age.
How does this manifest in the life of an adolescent? It is as if each individual shoots off in their own direction at the point of puberty. While it was once a closer feeling of unity amongst the individual child and his or her peers before puberty, the individualization which occurs (or has not yet occurred for some) sends adolescents on their own paths to self discovery, on a journey to define themselves.
The real question, is how can we assist these individuals, how can we as a community help, and contribute to their becoming their own selves? It is my every joy and pleasure to be able to offer council and direction to youth, to guide them on this journey, and help each individual in the process.
What isn’t always clear for every person in the adolescent stage of life is what decisions can really define them, and how the impact of time and patience can truly benefit them in their individualization. It is not my duty or responsibility to impose a system of values on anyone, rather, I’ve found myself a listener, who through empathy and experience with so many others, can lead others to help themselves- to determine where their real interests and goals lay, to allow those individuals to realize these pathways and modes of thought which will inspire them, on their own, to make those “educated” decisions and life choices.
In a time and community which wants the best for its children, where “the best” is often measured by grades, school performance, and similar gauges from the adult perspective, and an entirely different lens for the youth themselves, it is one of the most difficult things for an adolescent individual to balance.
The weight may seem as if it is all on their shoulders, like no one understands their struggle, or that their peers and their family, and the posters on the side of the street all want to fit them into some category that simply doesn’t resonate with them. And how are those individuals to know that the values by which they themselves feel judged are not the only values on which to judge, and are perhaps not the best values for them individually?