At times teens think their problems are more than they can handle. Family, friends, even your own feelings can get you down. Read this article for some encouraging, positive solutions.
WHAT'S so great about being a teenager? Your teachers tell you that the world is your oyster, that you can be anything you want to be. You wonder, don't you? Your parents tell you that you should enjoy these, the "best years of your life." That would be a good trick — since you may be the shortest kid in your class, have acne and add to your chances of becoming a candidate for lung cancer every time you walk into the smoke-filled school lavatory. If these are the best years of your life, you can imagine what the rest will be like! You're right. Being a teenager isn't easy. It's a time of change — change in your body, in your mind, in your outlook. Books and magazines throw around the issues of hormonal adjustments, peer pressure, sex, drugs and academic pressure so much that you get the impression the teen years are like the chicken pox — something everybody has to endure once. But look at it another way. The changes, pressures and conflicts in your life are not necessarily bad. They are just circumstances. And, circumstances can affect us positively or negatively, depending on how we respond to them. The Proverbs in the Bible tell us to make the most of our lives while we have the chance. So let's take another look at being a teenager, from a more positive point of view.
Perhaps you know that, at least in the early part of the teen years, hormones are signaling the changes that turn your body into an adult's. These chemical changes can also contribute to moody spells, stimulate the oil glands in your skin and, among boys, cause growth spurts that make your limbs feel too long for your body and your trousers rise treacherously off the floor. Seems like your body is playing a mean trick, doesn't it? But don't forget, even in the midst of this hormonal activity, you probably still have excellent overall health. Years of work and stress have not taken their toll. Your body has not had time to absorb many of the poisons society produces. You can probably work hard all day and still feel ready to go out at night, while your parents collapse into the nearest easy chair. Your body is like a new car, just out of the factory, its engine revving to go! Your health allows you to do wonderful things that other people might not succeed at so easily: break athletic records, stay on your feet through a fast dance medley, study and keep a part-time job at the same time, or just enjoy life without the worries and handicaps of illness.
Ever see a middle-aged man or woman talk about a dream, like sailing around the world or writing a novel or visiting the Himalayas? You might have noticed a wistful look in the eyes, and an "if only" attitude. But when a teenager talks about the same kind of dream, he or she's not wistful — he or she's making plans! What's the difference? Middle-aged people, more often than not, have obligations. They have spouses and children and jobs they cannot ignore. With determination and hard work, a dream trip is possible for one person, but taking a whole family can require an exceptional amount of long-range planning and budgeting. Also, since it is likely that nobody depends on you for support, what better time to plan and prepare for what you want to do with your life? An older person might have to take any job he can get just to put bread on the table, but you're probably still living with your parents. Now is your chance to get the education you'll need for the kind of job you'll enjoy. If you want to know how much of a privilege that is, ask someone who had to leave school early to get married and support a family. Of course, preparing can be difficult if you nave no idea what you want that future occupation to be. Funny, isn't it, how everybody wants you to choose your life's vocation when you have not had a chance to do much of anything but sit in a classroom and study? Take advantage of all opportunities, be they school courses, higher education or on-the-job training, offered to you now. How? First, think about what you already do well and explore the occupations that fit your abilities. For instance, if people like you and trust you, you might look into the field of sales. If you like your part-time job at the library, ask the librarian about her career in library science. Second, corner relatives and adult friends and get them to talk about their jobs — ask them what kinds of aptitudes and training they needed and if and why they like the work they're in. Don't overlook your own parents. Remember there's no law against following in Father's footsteps, if that is what you want to do, and he might be able to give you the extra help (like a summer job with his company or as an apprentice) to start you on your way. Third, try to get all the hands-on work experience you can right now. Even if you don't intend to spend your life frying fish or volunteering your services for the handicapped, you might learn useful things about yourself: you perhaps don't like to work too closely with a boss, you learn difficult manual skills quickly, you like (or don't like) dealing with the public. Any direction you choose now, even if it isn't one you plan to follow indefinitely, will get you started toward your goal in the world of work. Who knows whether you might meet a future employer while selling popcorn in a movie theater or caddying on the golf course? The world really can be your oyster — provided you hunt for the pearls.
As important as career and financial preparations are, there's more to life than money. The teenage years are the perfect time to start discovering some of the excitement and rich experience life holds. Start by cultivating yourself. Cultivating yourself means making yourself more valuable and productive. It requires wide reading, some knowledge of the arts — the finer accomplishments of humanity — and social experience. Wide reading can start in the classroom and the library. If you're unsure about where to start, ask your teachers about the classic literature of your language. Don't neglect current events and history. Such reading will give you a deeper understanding of why the world is the way it is. While at the library, don't overlook the record and tape collections. You probably have a keen interest in music. Why not take advantage of it by developing your taste in various kinds of music? Visit museums and be on the alert for cultural events. A wealth of beauty and understanding is ready for you to explore. Get involved in social activities and service projects to develop your skills in that area. As a teen you have an advantage: You are expected to make a few mistakes socially. People aren't so kind when adults commit social blunders. Try to gain experience talking with people of different ages. And don't neglect the opposite sex! If you can learn to talk to a fellow or girl while stringing up crepe paper for a dance or participating in a track meet, you'll find yourself much less self-conscious in a more formal dating situation.
The Biggest Advantage
Finally, we come to the biggest advantage of your teenage years. The fact that you're reading this magazine suggests that you are interested in right ways of living. That's great! Because God is interested in you and your success in life. He created the world with certain laws built in, which, if followed, will guarantee you a worthwhile, profitable life. These laws are to keep us from making the mistakes that cause sorrow, suffering — every evil in the world. Add this to your advantage: Because you can learn about these laws early, you can avoid the painful mistakes that have caused others so much unhappiness. You can learn about these subjects by requesting a free publication of ours, Youth 85. A high-quality, full-color magazine for teenagers, and it is without advertising. A magazine that covers a wide variety of exciting topics. Written for teens about teens. No other teen magazine is like it. No other provides the answers — the missing dimension in knowledge — for the problems all teens face. You need it! It's free! Check the inside cover for the address nearest you. You'll never regret it. And don't forget to enjoy yourself and prepare for a fulfilling life. That's what being a teenager is all about.