I have refrained from blogging about adolescence.
I have hesitated because my oldest three are either in it or on the verge of entering this stage. I have wanted to protect their privacy as they embark on their own journey.
But I do want to talk about the positive aspects of it. There have been challenges. I was prepared for those. There have also been amazing moments which I do want to share.
Some of these moments have arrived because of events I choose to participate in.
I was fortunate enough to attend and teach at a Symposium for Mental Health this past weekend.
My workshop was a tween/teen version of the Book of Hour workshop I teach adults. I only had an hour to make an impact. As always, when I teach, I am the one that learns the most.
I explained what this practice was all about. Even as an adult woman, I know how hard it can be to find the words to articulate what I am feeling or what I need at this moment. The loneliness in feeling disconnected and the assumption that I am alone in my feelings because everyone else has it “together” can be debilitating. We have an inner voice that does not shut up. (All the girls nodded in agreement.) I told them what my inner voice says to me. I told them how I believed the stories it told and how it took me 20 years to finally have the courage to change my beliefs about myself.
My Book of Hours gave me the courage. Through wisdom from other people’s words, I didn’t have to struggle to find my own. After doing this practice over and over again, choosing to listen to this wisdom when I could hear nothing else but the inner critic, I began to internalize this wisdom as my own. My beliefs began to shift. It was a slow shift but they shifted. The first belief that changed, as I read quotes every day, was that I was not alone. I wasn’t alone in my confusion, my anger, my loneliness.
To quote Kyle from Wear Your Label, the keynote speaker at the event, “It is okay to not be okay.”
I gave the girls a handout of quotes and asked them to pick one that resonates with them. One that gives them hope. One that makes their heart sing a resounding “YES!” The key to this practice was finding their way back to themselves, listening to their heart.
Self-awareness and self-reflection doesn’t end. In fact, if you accept this, it makes life a whole lot easier to handle. But we do a disservice to our young people when we don’t help them build a toolkit for life that they can draw upon when they need to find a way back to themselves. We can help them build it by modelling it ourselves or by learning different methods by attending events that open up the dialogue.
This event gave my girls many things to add to their toolkit, many options to “express their stress” as Unity founder, Mikey Prosserman, told the kids to do during his amazing closing presentation.
My good friend Rose taught the workshop with me. She asked this question to our female audience that ranged from 10-18:
What makes you feel stressed out?
Girls started to shout out different things. School, peer pressure, tests, homework, and anxiety over high school for the girls that were not there yet. My two daughters were in the circle. My second and third born. I noticed them silent. I smiled at them and they looked at me with uncertainty, that look they give me when they don’t know an answer. The sisters looked at each other and shrugged. One of them said, “Sometimes I get stressed out about volleyball?”
We talked about it at home and they told me that they don’t really know what stress feels like. My daughter who said that sometimes volleyball stresses her out clarified her position and explained that she gets nervous that she will make a mistake, especially when serving. I asked her if the stress was so unbearable that made her not want to play. She said, “Of course not, I just get a little nervous.”
I spent the entire day in and out of workshops before my own. My daughters attended ones for specifically for girls and others where boys and girls were mixed together. In the workshops, and outside chatting informally, I listened to the worries and stresses about their children in adolescence.
Stress is a foreign concept to my children which has invited many types of questions.
I was asked the question how do I think my children will deal with “real life” when they get out there after being sheltered and protected in my homeschool bubble? I’ve been asked this before. I’ve been asked how my children will deal with bullying as adults when they’ve never face it as a child. I’ve been asked how they will deal with the stress of tests and deadlines. I’ve been asked how they will handle the stresses and pressures of daily life if they have never felt stressed-induced anxiety.
I have a very firm stance on this which I have had to debate with others and even with myself.
Tomorrow, I will address these honest questions I get asked…